Boer War Page 90s

Anglo-Boer War Fakes - ebay Follies

As a public service, to prevent eager collectors from being duped by unscrupulous antique dealers, we offer our Fake Pages courtesy of our friends on ebay.

The Sousa Band: "The Liberty Bell March" c 1904

No, Monty Python did not write this song, John Philip Sousa did, late in the 19th century. You are listening to a very early recording, featuring "The Liberty Bell March" played by the Sousa Band. This march was extremely popular during the Boer War era, though possibly it's even more famous today as the Monty Python theme song for their TV series during the 1960s and 70s.

What does this march have to do with a Kruger money box????? Read on...


SHAME! SHAME! We recently received a stern admonishment from a neighbour of Crocodile Dundee!!! The offending page - Kruger Money Box 1900 - is shown below.

Yuk! Yuk! From Down Under

Hi, I, together with my fellow Boer War collectors, find your web site quite entertaining. Your often make incorrect assumptions about things, without checking the facts. However, your Kruger money box really takes the cake. These fakes have been around for at least the past 20 years. The main difference, besides the size, is the wording across Kruger's shoulders. The authentic one reads "WESTMINSTER GAZETTE" while the fake reads "WESTMINSTER GAZELIE".

Did you not wander what a "GAZELIE" was? In future, if you don't know, ask an expert. Regards,

Mike Hulks, Australia

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Below is the info panel which caused the outburst...


Kruger Money Box 1900

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Transvaal President Kruger Money Box, c. 1900
Orig. cast iron - Size - 6" x 4.5"w, weight 1.2kg
Found - Dundas, ON
Signed "By permission of the proprietors of the Westminster Gazelie" on back. Mechanical, movable pipe.
One of the finest Kruger money boxes we have ever seen turned up at an obscure country auction. It offers also a salutary lesson about auction cruising for memorabilia.

I had already seen everything the auctioneer had to offer - absolutely nothing of memorabilia interest at all. Slightly annoyed that my wife wanted another look at something, I decided to look once more and - lo there hidden among some trashy items on the table sat Paul Kruger looking reproachfully at me for having missed him on the first go round.

I was literally stunned. I had seen these on ebay, many of whom looked like a modern repro to me. And this one, far from a repro, is one of the finest ones I've ever seen. Age that is impossible to fake is in every part of this heavy cast iron money bank.

The Lesson: Always, always, look through everything, at least, twice...

It has paid off numerous times since.


Kruger Money Box 1900

Would you call this a "fake?" Another one of the popular multi-coloured banks that exudes age from every pore and was sold at an international auction as a c 1900 "made in India" money bank, patterned after a c 1896 version.

Faking It! While we admit to trying to be "entertaining," we also try to be more than a bit "educational." Sort of a bit like Steve Irwin, though we don't have a baby to dangle in front of the crocs. How about a money box???

Mike - like others we've heard say - consider that there has been a conspiracy of late by someone intent on faking Kruger money boxes and getting rich! We do admit that Australia has been - by far - the main source of more than a few Kruger money boxes that have shown up on ebay in the last while... It might even make the unknowing sophisticate suspect that someone is making these and flooding the market? No wonder Mike is touchy!

So how do you tell the real ones from the fakes? Well you can't use the old tried and true method, and bite them to see "because the fake ones taste like rubber!" So we have to use the powers of deduction, common sense, and corroborative information. Here goes our attempt...

Paul Kruger: In 1883 Paul Kruger became President of the Transvaal Republic, and was seen as a giant among his people, at a time when the Boers had just defeated the British army at Majuba Hill (1881), and caused the British Government to sue for peace, so ending the First Boer War, in the Boer's favour...

Paul Kruger's whole life had been to serve as a bulwark of his people against the aggression of British colonial interests in South Africa. Wherever he went, photos showed him with his pipe. He had reputedly killed his first lion at age 14. Later he was said to have wrestled a buffalo to the ground, pinning it by the horns. Kruger as a man was heavy set and exuded great vitality and strength.

Some British wit thought he was a perfect subject to front as a symbol of security for a bank. The bank portrait was modelled after a drawing by political cartoonist FC Gould that had been published in the Westminster Gazette - not please, the Westminster Gazelie...


President Paul Kruger as Canada's French-Canadians thought of him in posters they put in their tobacco shops to show their support for the Boers, a fellow minority, like themselves, oppressed by the British...

Kruger, sitting on the porch of his house in Pretoria in the final months leading to war. Now the cares of his people are etched into every crevice in his face. Just a perfect subject for a cartoonist to play with...


The portly President gave shape to the money box, his clothes, the covering. So just how creative did FW Gould have to be?

This Kruger money bank is coated in one of the less popular "bronze" finishes. This is also the easiest and most popular finish to "fake" today because one dip, does it all, though this specimen has decades of accumulated dust so caked into the crevices, that it confirms this as a very old bank, a lot older than 20 years - or even 50 years Mike. Let's try 100 years!

Not authentic or fake, but different production runs: The pipe is missing on all these "bronze" cast models likely because production managers probably warned it only creates problems in mass production, storage, and shipping. Many of these fragile, protruding pipes would be broken off before they reached the stores; why not just leave them off these non-mechanical banks altogether?

And oh yes, Mike, they will vary in size as well. Smaller means savings in materials and so a cheaper price. If the bank is not intended ever to hold coins but just look nice, a little smaller wouldn't hurt. In an age when crested china miniatures were all the rage a smaller Kruger money box would fit into a collection much better.

The construction of all the banks is basically the same, two cast iron or bronze halves, held together by a single bolt through the back.

The Originals: History records that the first Kruger money banks were made by John Harper & Co. Ltd. from 1885 to early 1900. In one of their old catalogues is written "After F.C. Gould, Esq. By permission of the Proprietors of the Westminster Gazette." FC Gould had drawn the cartoon, published in the Gazette, which served as the model for the bank. Because the likeness was so strong, Harper asked permission from the Gazette to avoid possible copyright complications...

(Above, is one of these ultra rare original Harpers, and the only one featured on this page.)

The original Harper bank was not manufactured as a mechanical device - that is, one with moving parts - so the pipe in the Harper banks was fixed. It is also extremely thin - unlike the later more robust pipes. These 1880s originals are so hard to find that few people anywhere have even seen one.

Harper made the bank in "maroon bronzed, venetian bronzed (highly finished)" and "in various colours." Of the three types, the coloured are the most desirable ones today. The original colours were as follows: hat: black-bronze, jacket: brown, vest: yellow with black buttons, trousers: blue-green, shoes: black, hair, beard, face, and hands: creamy white, lips: red, pipe: black stem and yellow bowl.

"Transvaal Money Box" was written boldly on the front, and "By Permission of the Proprietors of the Westminster Gazette," on the back. Some collectors - presumably including Mike and his friends - seem to draw a line in the sand here. If it doesn't say Gazette, it's not Boer War, it's not an authentic antique, and it's a "fake."

Authentic & Fake: .

The Wrong Spelling: Mike suggests that any klutz should be able to tell the difference, just by using the spell checker, "The main difference ..... is the wording across Kruger's shoulders. The authentic one reads "WESTMINSTER GAZETTE" while the fake reads "WESTMINSTER GAZELIE". Did you not wander what a "GAZELIE" was? In future, if you don't know, ask an expert." OOOh! That hurts, Mike.

The Dumb Forger: Common now Mike, we can all read. So you're saying the forger misspelled the word Gazette and made it Gazelie because he was dumb; and we are too, for missing a clue that is so obvious? A possibility I guess by an inept forger with the same mentality that thought he could make a living faking Kruger money boxes.

The Careless Forger: Why would a good forger - even an amateur forger - misspell Gazette and signal his incompetence to the entire world for decades - a century - to come? Is that a great economic initiative?

Sort of like a Picasso forger signing off as Picassorie on all his fake paintings or Rembrandt as Rembrannerie... Do you believe any forger would do this by mistake, or because of bumbling, and expect to sell a single copy, to anyone, anywhere, for any money? Or try to fool anyone, let alone a collector? Who can read? With such a careless fake?

The Careful Forger: The first rule of forgery is always, get the signature - in this case the writing - right. If that is wrong no forgery, no fake, will ever work...

Frankly we don't know what Gazelie is and have never found anyone who does. But it is clearly displayed on many money boxes going back, say, a hundred years. That's a fact. Gazelie is there because that is exactly the word the original designer wanted to put on his money banks. It is not a mistake and an accidental miscopying of Gazette. More to the point, it is definitely not a forgery of any kind! And it certainly does not denote or identify a money box that is "fake," as Mike and his friends would have us believe. It merely points out that it does not read Gazette.

The Clever Forger: Why Gazelie, not Gazette? For exactly the same reason that John Harper clearly printed Gazette on their banks. They didn't want to get copyright problems with the newspaper whose cartoonist's artwork they were copying.

When competing manufacturers saw the original Harper banks, they immediately said, "We can do better, a whole lot better." The first thing they did was make the "stiff" Harper bank "mechanical," hoping to capture a market that Harper was missing. And so they made that pipe moveable. Whenever a coin was dropped, a lever made Paul's pipe jiggle up and down, surely a delight for kids of all ages!

But they had a problem. They did not have the Gazette's permission and probably wouldn't have received it. Besides, they were now infringing on Harper's copyright as well. So their lawyer probably said, "Change Gazette to Gazebo, Gazelie, or Gadzooks! Anything but Gazette!"

And so the Gazelie multi-coloured mechanical money box with the moving pipe was born. The public embraced the new one as enthusiastically as they rejected the old.

This bank sports many traditional Harper colours for the vest and most of the other parts. If the "aging" on this bank is a forger's work he is a master who shouldn't be wasting his talent on hundred dollar money boxes, but faking Napoleon's swords or Rembrandts.
If this is a fake, then the forger made about 7 cents an hour for his effort. Hope he got a sale so he can feed his starving wife and kids!

Aging on metal and paint done by Father Time that cannot be done as convincingly by any artist with brush, or file, or steel wool, or elbow grease, and any amount of creative destruction. One key to note is the "uniformity" of the aging. Paint, and iron have obviously aged together creating an overall patina that can not be achieved by artificial means in a "forced" or speeded up environment.

Boer War Era Money Banks: In the years running up to the Boer War, Paul Kruger's fame spread as the Boers in South Africa took up more and more space in the British press. Everyone, it seems, wanted a Kruger money box and so these mechanical banks spread like wildfire.

Nobody wanted the stiff old pipe ones which were thrown away; everyone wanted a mechanical one to enthrall kids of every age. And everyone wanted a multi-coloured one too.

And that's why there are so many around. Not because forgers are busy nowadays - or recently - but because these banks were all the rage at the time of the Boer War!

Age Burn! Time leaves a mark that is virtually impossible to duplicate, effectively or economically, by any forger. So forgeries and fakes - items created specifically to deceive, and con the unwary and uninformed into spending lots of money - are not done on small, low value items - like Kruger money banks. It just wouldn't pay or make economic sense for anyone to do it.

Because it takes enormous talent, skill, and time to fake the aging process on new materials, forging is primarily done on "high value" items such as Picasso paintings or those by other masters, or on old rifles or pistols which you can sell for thousands.

You may put a frame into an oven to get that alligatored effect on paint or a finish but it still looks like a modern crackle effect on new materials. Now you have to find a way to add the generations of dust and crud that accumulate in the crevices, the warping of the wood, etc. that time can do effortlessly but costs the forger nothing but endless headaches and wasted effort.

Gazette or Gazelie? Authentic and Fake? Hardly. Both are authentic memorabilia items from the Boer War era. Neither we, nor anyone else we know of, pretends our Kruger money bank is one of the original 1885 Harper Gazette banks. Ours was a later 1890s version with a mechanical pipe. Many of these were reputedly manufactured in India; ours may have been. (Hey British army Boer War pith helmets were manufactured there as well!)

Nevertheless ours - like many others out there - is an original Kruger money box from the Boer War era. It is authentic. It is not a fake anything, except to those - like Mike - who want to make it something it never was, an original Harper 1885 Westminster Gazette money box! It is not 1880s but 1890s.

To purist money box collectors - who may already have one or more Gazelies in their collections - it may be way down the list for interest. They may still be holding out for an earlier 1885 Harper in original colours featuring a slimmer unmovable pipe. But to Boer War collectors these mechanical non-Harper banks are every bit as interesting because they were manufactured at the time, played with by people during the Boer War, and were the center of countless joking conversations by people now long gone.

Sure there were good copies and bad. The trick with good antique hunting is to find the best copies that still remain, of furniture, busts, paintings, or money banks... We're just pleased that we snagged a really fine example of a genuine authentic real Boer War Kruger money box.

Finally! Common sense would tell you that forgers wouldn't bother making copies of the original Boer War money banks we feature on this page. There are enough around that they're not rare enough to drive up the price where forging an item is worthwhile. The real money to be made is by forging and copying genuine 1885 Harper money banks emblazoned with original Gazette lettering targetting - you're way ahead of me - precisely, Mike and his jolly expert friends.

So, just when they let their guard down - because they have just spotted a rusty "authentic Gazette" bank, as Mike calls it - zap, they are seduced into paying huge amounts, and end up falling for a genuine fake!

So the easiest way to find a genuine forgery Mike, is to find one that says Gazette - not Gazelie - across Paul Kruger's back. That's where the money is; that's where the real forgers go. Want to see what a real fake looks like? Just check your collection!!

Rust: Generations of rust from condensation during many seasons of hot and cold temperatures working on moisture on metal, inside these cast iron banks is another sign of "age-burn."

When counterfeiters use artificial "rusting techniques" on metal objects, the "rusting" that results is uniform across the entire piece. It all looks "equally rusty" because "differential rusting," the type that Mother Nature does, working on different areas of the metal at different times, over the passing decades, is too cost prohibitive and time consuming to apply to inexpensive items. On this ancient (our) bank the metal has been attacked at different times in different ways - obviously by time, not a forger.

Half way down is the extened arm of the pipe which is directly under where the coin drops. As it falls it hits the protrusion and tips up the pipe on the other side. This feature makes this a "mechanical" bank as opposed to a "non-mechanical" model like the original Harpers were.

A Comparison:

The pipe is one way to tell the original copies of the money boxes from later copies.

Left, is the long, slim, slender pipe of the kind found on earlier Harper models of which this may be a copy and may very well say Gazette on the back. Sadly, these fragile "fixed" pipes often broke off.

Another "Gazelie" version, far right, shows the shorter, heavier "moveable" pipe almost universally favoured for later 1890s banks. They "gave," rather than broke, so more survive today.

A Comparison:

Age-burn is quite evident here between a new "Made in China" money box, left, which we found in an antique shop being sold as such, and the upper and lower banks on the right which are 100 plus years old.

A wonderfully instructive set to show how age works its miracle over time. The ones on the right once looked like that on the left.

Who could possibly believe the ones on the right are "fake?" Or for that matter, the one on the left, made for the modern "notions" trade?


The Winner is! My mom's pick for certain, as surely as she would wince at paying good money for the other "dirty old thing" on the right.

Note that the China version is so badly made "to make a quick buck," not to fool collectors, that the "T" in Transvaal was so shallowly cast that the painter, working in a second language, missed it entirely...

Old & New: The hat below looks badly labelled and doesn't appear to have the age burn of 100 years behind it. It is very likely a modern copy - and a cheap copy, not a conniving fake - that is still interesting for collectors because it shows that a popular item from a major "folk hero" of a hundred years ago, still has market appeal today for the "Grumpy Old Man" notions buying public.
The old and the new. A modern replacement screw on an old bank - carefully pointed out be an ebay seller - shows how the effects of variable aging often makes it easy to tell the difference.

And a cheap later bank also displays a poor "Made in England" stamp, showing this as a post Boer War copy. If the manufacturer had wanted to fool a collector he could have just stamped it "England," giving it an earlier 19th century provenance for people going by stamps alone.

With the longer stamp it doesn't pretend to be anything other than a later, 20th century bank. At any rate definitely not a bank made during the Boer War.

All About Copies, Fakes & Forgeries!

Everything of value ever made, has been, or is still, being copied, whether it's furniture or memorabilia items like Kruger money boxes.

An Original: Actually virtually no one, anywhere, has an original of anything. They all have "original copies" though collectors prefer to drop the second word, when by all that's fair, they should have dropped the first! They talk of having an original because it enhances the value of their artefacts while talking of copies sounds like it cheapens their collection. An original Webley holster from 1901 is a copy: so is a Pattern 1888 Lee Metford bayonet. These were copied by the hundreds of thousands - if not millions - as were rifles, and uniforms, and helmets, and busts, and plates.

That is why "named" original copies are so valuable. They are the actual "one-of-a-kind" item that actually belonged to a particular person. These copies really turn into valuable originals as a result - like for example, the original bayonet used by Otto Moody (see search engine). In memorabilia or antique collecting, this approaches the level of owning the original "Sunflowers" by Van Gogh, of which only one original exists.

The collector has to decide from what period he/she wants their copies to be from. And - besides the manufacturer's marks - they have to learn the tell-tale signs of "age burn" to differentiate the early from the later copies. Earlier copies are more valuable because they are more scarce, and also come with the "emotional" link to the times which later copies do not have. That is why Boer War collectors have less than a marginal interest in Kruger money boxes made in modern times for the curiosity, notions, or decorator trade. (Sorry Mike but manufacturers are not trying to fool Boer War collectors with fakes.)

Copies or "repros" are not forgeries. They're copies or duplicates, if you will, of the original work of art. Only a rare few buyers could afford to buy an original Remington bronze; so copies have been made down through the years to feed the mass market. These are authentic copies, many dating to Remington's own time, though modern copying is still going on. The buyer has to decide whether he wants an authentic original bronze worth multi-thousands of dollars or a mass-produced copy or reproduction from the time or a later period, which can be had for hundreds of dollars. And it often takes an expert to tell the difference.

I shouldn't have said that; after all there are more Rembrandt fakes in world class museums than anywhere else, unless it is in the collections of Hollywood celebrities and industrial tycoons who all have professional antique evaluators advising them on which fakes are authentic!!!

Leslie Harradine made only one original of "The Old balloon Seller" in 1929, but between then and 1998 when they stopped cloning Leslie's original, Royal Doulton made untold thousands of copies, thrilling generations of collectors. Though you can still find them at almost every auction today, these mass-produced copies of his most famous piece still fetch $200 or more - more than a Kruger money box.

Copies are not fakes! They're honest to goodness, authentic duplicates of original works of art, whether of a bronze casting or a ceramic bust. Manufacturers are not crooks; they are producing copies to satisfy a market of collectors with wildly varying tastes.

The Smart Collector: So the knowledgable collector does not divide memorabilia items into "black and white" authentic and fake categories - however attractive this sounds in conversation and make one sound informed to the uninitiated. Both words are really most unhelpful.

All memorabilia items or antiques should be regarded as "real" items, manufactured in a certain time and place for a certain market. It is your job to guess where and when that was, and not to let "middlemen" antique selling hucksters try to fool you about the "provenance" - the real life history - of an item. To arm yourself you have to learn about manufacturer's marks that are there and the amount of "age burn" that corroborates or discounts these marks or stamps.

The Real Crook: It is not the manufacturer but the salesman in all this who is, most often, the real crook - the antique huckster - the people who pick up an item, embellish it with a story to enhance its economic value to buyers and pass it off as something it never was.

Ebay is full of them. Some honestly offer opinions on what an item may be; others, many others, wildly overblow or patently misrepresent items to snag the unwary and the trusting.

But I have never found the sellers of Kruger money boxes to be among them. They show clear photos, and often several of them, and even send you larger ones if you ask. And they tell you that the pipe is broken off or that parts of the bank look new. Not once have I seen one say they are selling a Gazette version but go out of the way to show they are selling the Gazelie version. The items they sell often have the age burn of a century. Frankly I don't believer any of these sellers even know the difference, or are even aware of a seeming controversy because I don't believe any of them are even collectors of these particular items. So make up your mind. Do you want to collect a hundred year old Kruger Gazelie bank or don't you?

Sir Francis Carruthers Gould 1844-1925:

The very same FC Gould, who had inspired the Kruger money box in 1885 would return during World War I for a final glorious burst of creativity, and produce the cartoon drawings that gave rise to the most spectacular historical memorabilia items probably ever produced, the 11 magnificent Wilkinson toby jugs of World War I leaders.

Gould was the first political cartoonist ever hired by a British daily newspaper, the Pall Mall Budget in 1888. He also was a cartoonist for the Westminster Gazette..... but then, we know all that....

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