Forgery is the process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents (see false document), with the intent to deceive. The similar crime of fraud is the crime of deceiving another, including through the use of objects obtained through forgery. Copies, studio replicas, and reproductions are not considered forgeries, though they may later become forgeries through knowing and willful misrepresentations. In the case of forging money or currency it is more often called counterfeiting. But consumer goods are also "counterfeits" when they are not manufactured or produced by designated manufacture or producer given on the label or flagged by the trademark symbol. When the object forged is a record or document it is often called a false document.

In the 16th century imitators of Albrecht Dürer's style of printmaking improved the market for their own prints by signing them "AD", making them forgeries.

In the 20th century the art market made forgeries highly profitable. There are widespread forgeries of especially valued artists, such as drawings meant to be by Picasso, Klee, and Matisse.

This usage of 'forgery' does not derive from metalwork done at a 'forge', but it has a parallel history. A sense of "to counterfeit" is already in the Anglo-French verb "forger" "falsify."

Forgery is one of the techniques of fraud, including identity theft. Forgery is one of the threats that have to be addressed by security engineering.

A forgery is essentially concerned with a produced or altered "object." Where the prime concern of a forgery is less focused on the object itself— what it is worth or what it "proves"— than on a tacit statement of criticism that is revealed by the "reactions" the object provokes in others, then the larger process is a hoax. In a hoax, a rumor or a genuine object "planted" in a concocted situation, may substitute for a forged physical object.

Forgery as a subject in film

The Orson Welles documentary F for Fake concerns both art and literary forgery. For the movie Welles intercut footage of Elmyr de Hory, an art forger, and Clifford Irving, who wrote an "authorized" autobiography of Howard Hughes that had been revealed to be a hoax. While forgery is the ostensible subject of the film, it also concerns art, film making, storytelling and the creative process.

In the Steven Spielberg 2002 motion picture "Catch Me If You Can" which is based on the real story of Frank Abagnale, a con man who stole over $2.5 million through forgery, imposture and other frauds is dramatized. His career in crime lasted six years from 1963 to 1969.

Documentary art

Before the invention of cameras, people commonly hired painters and engravers to "re-create" an event or a scene. Artists had to imagine what to illustrate based on the information available to them about the subject. Some artists added elements to make the scene more exotic, while others removed elements out of modesty. In the 18th century, for example, Europeans were curious about what North America looked like and were ready to pay to see illustrations depicting this faraway place. Some of these artists produced prints depicting North America, despite many having never left Europe.

Topics in forgery

* Archaeological forgery
** Discoveries of Shinichi Fujimura
** James Ossuary
** Piltdown Man
** Moses Shapira
** Tiara of Saitapharne, Louvre
** Shepton Mallet, Chi-Rho amulet
** The Lady of Elx saw a controversy circa 1995 regarding its authenticity. Recently (2005), the Spanish National Research Council concluded in a research that the pigmentation was, in fact, from ancient times.
** "See also" Kensington Runestone controversy
** Drake's Plate of Brass
** Sinaia lead plates
* Art forgery
**Tom Keating
**Eric Hebborn
**Mark Hofmann
**Elmyr de Hory
**Dürer's imitators
**Camille Corot's imitators
**Han van Meegeren's Vermeers
**Michelangelo's Cupid
**Etruscan terracotta warriors, Metropolitan Museum of Art
**The Rospigliosi Cup or The 'Cellini Cup'
**Samson Ceramics forgeries/reproductions
**Black Admiral
* Literary forgery - these literary forgeries all had some effect on the course of cultural history. Other literary forgeries, such as the Hitler diaries, briefly achieve wide notoriety, without affecting subsequent history; they are brought together as literary hoaxes.
**"Epistle to the Laodiceans"
**"Theology of Aristotle"
**Ademar of Chabannes' forged "Life" of St. Martial
**Thomas Chatterton's pseudo-medieval poetry
**Ossianic poems
**The Book of the Zohar, a primary text of medieval Kabbalah, was written by a 16th century Spanish Rabbi but attributed to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, an ancient sage of the Second Temple period. It was widely accepted as genuine until the advent of modern scholarship.
**The Salamander Letter, which offered an alternative account of Joseph Smith's finding of the Book of Mormon, written by master forger Mark Hofmann.
**Jack the Ripper's Diary
**Clifford Irving's Howard Hughes autobiography
* False documents
** Yellowcake Forgery
** James Maybrick
** Donation of Constantine
** Vinland map
** "Dossiers Secrets", the document forgeries planted in the Bibliothèque nationale de France that were developed into "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" etc.
** Identity document forgery
*Musical Forgery (Music allegedly written by composers of past eras, but actually composed later by someone else)
** W. A. Mozart, "Adélaïde" concerto for violin (by Marius Casadesus)
** G. F. Handel, Viola Concerto (by Henri Casadesus)
** J. C. Bach, Cello Concerto (by Henri Casadesus)
** Valentin Strobel, Concerto (by François-Joseph Fétis)
** Works for lute by Sautscheck (by Roman Turovsky-Savchuk)
** Works for lute by Ioannes Leopolita (by Roman Turovsky-Savchuk)
** Works for baroque guitar by Antonio da Costa (by Paulo Galvao)
** "Kanzona" for lute by Francesco Da Milano (by Vladimir Vavilov)
** A.Sychra, Elegy for guitar (by Vladimir Vavilov)
** Fritz Kreisler's works for violin attributed to other composers
** Joseph Haydn, 6 Keyboard Sonatas (by Winfried Michel)
* Philatelic fakes and forgeries
* Relic forgery - It is not the efficacy of a relic that is in question, but only its provenance.
** "cf" True Cross
** "cf" Shroud of Turin
* Biblical archaeology - Ancient artifacts
** Moses Shapira
* Political forgery - false documents used for purposes of black propaganda.
** The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
** Zinoviev Letter
** Tanaka Memorial
** Ems Dispatch (actually more of a document altered by Otto von Bismarck in order to incite a war response from France against Germany)
** Killian documents (Memos critical of the United States National Guard service of President George W. Bush, now widely considered to be forgeries. "See also" Killian documents authenticity issues.)


*Robert Cohon, "Discovery & Deceit: archaeology & the forger's craft" Kansas: Nelson-Atkins Museum, 1996
*Oscar Muscarella, "The Lie Became Great: the forgery of Ancient Near Eastern cultures," 2000
* [ "Imaginary Images" in "Detecting the Truth: Fakes, Forgeries and Trickery"] at Library and Archives Canada

ee also

* Authenticity
* False document
* Falsification
* Counterfeiting including coin, currency, drugs, watches and postage stamps
* Replica
* Phishing
* Questioned document examination
* Epigraphy

External links

* [ Wide-ranging bibliographies of archaeological forgeries, art forgeries etc.]
* [ Museum security Network: sources of information on art forgery; with encyclopedic links.]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • forgery — forg·ery n pl er·ies 1: the act of falsely making, altering, or imitating (as a document or signature) with intent to defraud; also: the crime of committing such an act 2: something that is forged Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam… …   Law dictionary

  • FORGERY — of documents is not, either in biblical or in talmudic law, a criminal offense: it may be an instrument for the perpetration of fraud and come within the general prohibition of fraudulent acts (Lev. 19:35; Deut. 25:13–16) or fraudulent words (Lev …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Forgery — For ger*y, n.; pl. {Forgeries}. [Cf. F. forgerie.] 1. The act of forging metal into shape. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Useless the forgery Of brazen shield and spear. Milton. [1913 Webster] 2. The act of forging, fabricating, or producing falsely; esp …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • forgery — for‧ge‧ry [ˈfɔːdʒəri ǁ ˈfɔːr ] noun forgeries PLURALFORM 1. [countable] LAW a document, piece of money, or signature that has been copied illegally: • It turned out that the will was a forgery. 2 …   Financial and business terms

  • forgery — (n.) 1570s, a thing made fraudulently, from FORGE (Cf. forge) (n.) + ERY (Cf. ery). Meaning act of counterfeiting is 1590s …   Etymology dictionary

  • forgery — [n] counterfeiting; counterfeit item bogus*, carbon*, carbon copy, cheat, coining, copy, fabrication, fake, faking, falsification, fraudulence, imitating, imitation, imposition, imposture, lookalike, phony, pseudo, sham*, twin, workalike*;… …   New thesaurus

  • forgery — ► NOUN (pl. forgeries) 1) the action of forging a banknote, work of art, signature, etc. 2) a forged or copied item …   English terms dictionary

  • forgery — [fôr′jər ē] n. pl. forgeries 1. the act or legal offense of imitating or counterfeiting documents, signatures, works of art, etc. to deceive 2. anything forged 3. Archaic invention …   English World dictionary

  • forgery — /fawr jeuh ree, fohr /, n., pl. forgeries. 1. the crime of falsely making or altering a writing by which the legal rights or obligations of another person are apparently affected; simulated signing of another person s name to any such writing… …   Universalium

  • forgery — A criminal offense at common law and under statutes defining the term variously. 36 Am J2d Forg § 1. Essentially, the false making or material alteration, with intent to defraud, or, under some statutes, intent to injure. (Green v State (Fla) 76… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

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