"Grey Zone" fraud advice from Japan- Please read!


Hello from Japan. I am an American Photographer living in Okinawa at the moment. I was linked to your "FRAUD" pages via another ebay sellers site, and enjoyed looking at all of the examples and comments you had posted, especially the photographic items.

I collect old Japanese related photography, and am happy to say that I have not been scammed yet...but that does not mean that I am exempt from it ever happening to me.

I would like to mention a "grey zone" problem...

I do see sellers offering old authentic, original half-tone (or litho) photographic prints from ca 1898 -1910. Many of these are "color photos" copied directly from hand-colored black & white photographs...then printed in large press runs. As you know, at that time (100 years ago), they were using a 3 color process (no black ink), instead of the 4 color used now.

On the ebay auction page scans, these often look like original hand-colored albumens or silver prints, not half-tone reproductions. The problem I have in these cases is that 99% of the time, while the seller truthfully states that the "item is 100 years old", and etc, they fail to mention that the item is a period half-tone (dot matrix) litho print, and not an actual photograph. I am sure many are very disappointed when they get their "original 100 year old picture" or "colored stereoview" etc. winning items...and find that it is an old litho.

While this is not a direct scam, I have always felt that the sellers ommitting in their description the fact that an item is a colored or b/w litho, and not an actual photographic print, is un-ethical.

We cannot all go to photo-shows and see for ourselves what the true nature of an image is. Ebay sellers should more fully descibe the nature of the photos they are selling, as often times the scans are far from adequate for us to make a judgement.

And again, I am not talking about outright criminal scam of purposely faked images...but about truely authentic antique images, the value of which can vary vastly depending on the process used to produce it.

Litho or real photo ? This has been my only problem with ebay sellers and their descriptions. Thankfully, "ask the seller a question" has always kept me from disappointment. I would advise all "new collectors" shopping on ebay to ASK ASK ASK before bidding.

Thanks again for your very valuable, instructive ( and entertaining) site."