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Would you like to buy a bridge?

It's almost Christmas and I bet you're still rushing around trying to find that perfect gift for the fossil collector that has everything. But a word of caution. If you're thinking of purchasing a fossil for your favorite collector you should make sure that it's not a fake. During the last few years there has been a dramatic increase in fake fossils on the market. The Moroccan fossils are probably the first thing that comes to your mind. But the Chinese are catching up. Exciting new Chinese fossil species are turning out to be composites of two or more fossils. So how can you determine if the fossil you want to purchase is real? Here are a few guidelines. Purchase fossils from dealers that will give you a 100 percent return guarantee. A reputable dealer will stand behind his fossils. Ask if there has been any repairs. If there has been, ask for a signed, typed statement describing the repairs. Have them add an estimate of the percentage of the fossil that is repaired. Compare prices at several websites. A price that's too good to believe should raise a red flag. Ask for locality data for rare, expensive fossils. Illegal, or stolen, fossils can be confiscated by the federal government. And don't expect them to give your money back. If you find an item on the Internet with a picture, ensure that you get what's shown. The item in stock probably doesn't look like the picture that's been on the site page for years. Ask for a picture to be sent to your E-mail address. This gives you proof of what the dealer is offering you and will stand up in court. Just remember to save your E-mail picture until after you receive your item. Remember that your purchased fossil, or cast, is an investment. Keep all paperwork in a safe place. If you decide to sell it later you'll need to prove it's what you say it is.
Location Berkeley County, South Carolina, USA

ID738
Memberpaleobum
Date Added12/21/2006

Here's an example of two casts from two different Internet dealers. They are from the same fossil fish Xiphactinus. Over a period of years original casts are re-cast. Each re-cast leaves out details. Can you pick out the differences? Can you tell which is the original? One sells for $180. The other for $300. Buyer beware!
I was asked to make an Eocene fossil display for a dealer. I started by taking this Eocene decapod and cleaning it up.
A little facelift makes it much more desirable.
I had a partial right claw from the same species. I first cast it in plastic. I then added epoxy putty to both ends. I use the claw from a smaller specimen for a reference. After a little grinding I have a matching claw for my decapod.
This is a smaller crab of the same species. I used clay to reconstruct the front claws. I then cast it in plastic.
The same crab showing the underside.
I've taken two casts of the reconstructed crab and placed one upright, and one upside down, in a wood putty base. I've also added two of the fake claws. A large shark tooth and vertebra are added for artistic balance.
I couldn't decide where to add the small crab. I finally placed it on top of the shark vertebra. I brushed the base with sand mixed with butvar. This gave it a sandstone look. Now you know how easy it is to fake fossils. I hope that you take a closer look the next time you get ready to hand over your money.
  

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