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“Collectomania” may with some reason be looked upon as a comedy in which the leading parts are taken by the Collector, the Dealer, and the Faker, supported by minor but not less interesting characters, such as imitators, restorers, middlemen, et hoc genus omne, each of whom could tell more than one attractive tale.

In analysing the Faker one must dissociate him from the common forger; his semi-artistic vocation places him quite apart from the ordinary counterfeiter; he must be studied amid his proper surroundings, and with the correct local colouring, so to speak, and his critic may perchance find some slight modicum of excuse for him. Beside him stand the Imitator, from whom the faker often originates, the tempter who turns the clever imitator into a faker, and the middleman who lures on the unwary collector with plausible tales.

It is not the object of this volume to study the Faker by himself, but to trace his career through the ages in his appropriate surroundings, and compare the methods adopted by him at various periods of history, so far as they may be obtained.

Ethically, there is a strict line drawn between the imitator and the forger, but in practice this line is by no means rigid. Many imitators place their goods before the public as imitations; others tacitly permit their work to be sold as genuinely antique, influenced no doubt by the fact that though possibly12 the imitation and the original may possess equal merit, the one is handicapped by modernity, the other is hallowed by age. The inexperienced and unwary collector is in most cases the innocent originator of fraud; if there were no buyer there would be no seller. Too often fashion leads folly, and so fictitious values are created, and as demand increases so, too, do the sources of supply, but unhappily they are frequently not legitimate.

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