New Ecclesiastical ProductsBy Mark Chervenka
New Ecclesiastical Products
Vintage items used in home worship or in formal services—referred to as ecclesiastical items—are becoming increasingly popular with collectors. Although items of many faiths are collected, the most interest is in material from three religions—Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox and Judaic.
Collectors should be aware that many ecclesiastical items, like other categories of antiques, remain in current production. Entire catalogs, with names like Monastery Icons, for example, offer a wide variety of new material virtually identical to vintage pieces. Of course, all this material is perfectly legitimate but it can be confusing if it is ever offered in the secondary market.
Jackson's International Auctioneers & Appraisers is a recognized specialist in Russian icons and usually includes at least some ecclesiastical items of other religions in most sales. President James Jackson says a buyer's best defense against the new items is to maintain a healthy skepticism.
"At least fifty percent of Russian icons in today's market are either new, or if genuinely old, have been so extensively reworked they should be considered new," said Jackson. "Judaic silver is routinely made with forged antique hallmarks. Stone and wood relics associated with the Catholic church are being mass produced in cast resins that look very convincing. Collectors should just be aware that fakes and reproductions are out there."
Jackson said most buyers of vintage ecclesiastical items are devout members of their faith who buy the material as keepsakes.