Mass Produced Black MemorabiliaBy Mark Chervenka
Mass Produced Black Memorabilia
All of these new pieces of black memorabilia have one feature in common: all are very carefully made to resemble construction and wear normally associated with similar vintage pieces.
The mammy pin cushion is probably the most well made and hardest to detect. The upper body is cast in a white resin that looks very similar to plaster. It has been carefully chipped in a random pattern to let the white resin show through the paint just like natural paint wear appears. The cushion is made from old-appearing patterns in a fabric that has been discolored by brown staining. Pins are included and are of various sizes and heads. If you encountered this piece online or at a show, how could you tell it's new?
About the only substantial difference we discovered is the appearance under black light. The apron in particular, and the red paint to a lesser extent, both fluoresced brightly under long wave black light. New thread also fluoresced brightly but doesn't show up well in the photo. This piece is absolutely one of the harder to detect pieces of new black memorabilia we've encountered. It retailed for only $20. A similar original would probably easily be worth $60-$75, maybe more.
A paper print with a black subject has also been extensively altered to appear to be an oil painting. A crackle glaze has been applied to the surface of the print to give the texture and network of dark lines typical of old genuine canvas varnishes. Sandpaper or steel wool was then used to buff random spots across the surface to further suggest wear.
The new crackle glaze not only gives the appearance of age but also partially obscures the dot pattern which proves the piece to be a print, not a painting. A 10X loupe is required to properly view the regular pattern of dots left by printing process color on a printing press.
Inspecting the back side of the piece was impossible because it was sealed with a wooden panel fastened with nails. The black and gold painted wood frame is also extensively worked to suggest age. Corners are rounded, there are a few splinters and random areas of scuffing.
The third new piece is a common wall-hanging grocery list. It's a plywood plaque with wood pegs. Most of the vintage pieces like this are solid wood, not plywood.
All of these pieces are being mass produced. These are not individually made.