Caveat Emptor on E-bay

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Thru December 2001: Caveat Emptor on E-bay
By Etienne on Monday, November 19, 2001 - 08:02 pm: Edit

I think it depends on what's been done and how well. I believe in restoration as a concept, but good work is REAL expensive. If it isn't worth the money to do it right, leave it alone. A little worn lettering isn't worth the bother, and it probably would look better as is. There are people that can do amazing things with ceramics.

By Crosby on Monday, November 19, 2001 - 07:51 pm: Edit

An ugly restoration at that. I'd prefer it worn. I don't think retouching an item adds to it's value. do you? The shape also is a little different.

By Etienne on Monday, November 19, 2001 - 07:09 pm: Edit


There's a "restored" example of your pyrogene listed on eBay now. You might want to take a look, just for the heck of it.

By Aion on Monday, November 19, 2001 - 02:02 am: Edit

What would be a reasonable price for a toppette
as shown?

By Oxygenee on Monday, November 19, 2001 - 01:25 am: Edit

In so far as one can tell from a photo, your Oxygenee pyrogene is completely OK. There are no fakes recorded of this particular striker, and since its probably the easiest to find Oxygenee absinthe period striker (there are 7 or 8 different ones), its unlikely that anyone would go to the trouble and expense of faking it. I think the problems with faked strikers are not really in the field of existing models, but rather with so-called "unrecorded" pyrogenes, like the Premier Fils.

By Absinthedrinker on Monday, November 19, 2001 - 01:04 am: Edit

This Absinthe Cusenier Oxygenee pyrogene looks just fine

By Crosby on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 08:15 pm: Edit


Thanks for taking the time to upload all the images. As you can see from the green background, I have reason to be doubtful.

By Crosby on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 08:11 pm: Edit

Is this a well known form of this pyrogene or should I be suspicious?

By Crosby on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 08:08 pm: Edit


By Absinthedrinker on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 02:33 am: Edit

This pyrogene is not mentioned in MCD's 'Histoire d'une marque: Premier Fils' in the November 1992 review issue of L'absinthe which suggests that it was not well known at the time. Thus is is either a rare example or a fake and if it is rare why are so many now being offered for sale?

MCD has a feature of topettes in the January 1993 issue of the same review series. The design of the topette was first registered with the tribunal de Commerce de la Seine on 18th March 1893 by the distillers Delizy et Doisteau. It was for designated for 'des fruits a l'eau-de-vie, liqueurs et autre liquides et alcohols'. But it is common when registering designs to make the claim as broad as possible. The design shown has nine doses. The article suggests that the topette was brought into use because customers at cafes were taking advantage of being given the bottle to take more than they paid for. Single or double dose topettes would be given to a single customer, the larger topettes were given to groups of customers. This serving of absinthe in small topettes is also recorded by Sterling Heilig in a 1894 article in the Atlanta Constitution. It would have been more usual to serve absinthe in topettes rather than other spirits because absinthe was more likely to have been drunk in the quantities which make multi-dose topettes necessary.

By Oxygenee on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 10:52 am: Edit

I guess Phil would be the best person to give us a definite opinion on the Premier Fils pyrogene.

On the one hand some experienced collectors seem to accept it as genuine - for instance, Phillipe Machet (Bistrophile) illustrates it on his website. On the other hand others believe its faked, and when I examine my own example there are several things that worry me: the fact that it is stylistically so different from other Premier Fils pyrogene (with the lettering in blue rather than the red used on almost all other Premier Fils publicitie), the quality of the gilding which looks very "yellow" and modern, the letters themselves which seem painted or stencilled and slightly unevenly spaced (look at the "M" of "PREMIER"), the visible brushwork on the blue band at the top, the absence of wear on the wooden strike surface....taken all together, they add up to a large question mark on the authenticity of this striker.

To answer your other question, the carafe in the background on the right, is post 1915.

By Dr_Ordinaire on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 10:14 am: Edit

Oxy, I own one of those possible Premier Fils fakes (luckily, I didn't pay a lot for it. One just like the one in the pic went for close to 500 bucks on Ebay), is there any way to know if it's a fake?

Also, the carafe on the right (with the hat logo) is that one post prohibition?


By Oxygenee on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 07:27 am: Edit

I think there is no question that other items are also being faked. Most toppettes (especially the "Michelin Man" type) are relatively modern - and were anyway not specifically used for absinthe, but rather for any eau-de-vie type drink.

I've seen several pyrogene that I believe are faked - the opportunity to do this is obvious - plain white belle-epoque pyrogenes fetch only a few hundred francs: add an absinthe brand and you instantly have an item worth several thousand francs. I believe the Premier Fils pyrogenes with blue lettering and a wooden striker fall into this category of fakes.
Premier Fils

I'm also suspicious of the Junod Anis publicity fountains that have recently been turning up in mint condition - possibly someone found a cache of unused glass reservoirs (as happened with the Berger reservoirs), but its also possible that the publicity has been repainted onto existing plain reservoirs, thus virtually doubling the value of the fountain. No doubt Phil would have a more accurate idea of whether these are fakes or simply a fortuitous discovery.

By Crosby on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 12:13 am: Edit

Don't give jabi & rols any ideas.

By Thegreenimp on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 11:34 pm: Edit

You should sell them on eBay as training spoons.

By Head_Prosthesis on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 11:26 pm: Edit

Sold in packs of 100

Every spoon is an original

By Crosby on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 11:14 pm: Edit

Having seen the faked spoons and induvidual fountains, I have to wonder about the possibility that other types of absinthe antiques are being faked. Pyrogenes fetch large sums. Aside from the royal blue and gold Royer Hutins, is any one aware of a problem with these? Same for topttes. I've seen some stuff that looks more like lab ware than anything one would find in a bistro, easy enough to rule out. Cormenier recently put a lot of nice topettes on ebay under one of his other aliases. I'd be suspicious of the originality of any item that comes from a seller who puts so many fakes on the market. Unfortunatly, it doesn't seem possible to immediately ascertain who the seller really is.

By Absinthedrinker on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 06:30 am: Edit

Thanks for spotting the typo David, I must stop updating my site at 6.30 in the morning when I am still half asleep. In view of the current concern with fakes I will be putting a notice up on my site to reassure new buyers of what my regular customers know, I will refund any items that people are not happy with for any reason, provided they are returned in the original condition within 30 days. I know how nerve wracking it can be to order on the strength of pictures on the web.

By Oxygenee on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 06:18 am: Edit

As these things go, the Cormenier fakes are not very good, even from photos the differences can usually be seen, and as Petermarc will also attest, in the flesh they are usually fairly crude and quite obviously moulded, rather than stamped as were the originals.

If you look closely at the picture of the genuine Les Grille #12 on Ian's website (listed through an oversight as #11), you will see very significant diferences between it, and the Cormenier fake illustrated below.

Ian's genuine spoon is, in every respect, visually identical to the picture in the new Delahaye book. All the cutouts in Cormenier's fake however are smaller than they should be (something I've noticed with many of his faked spoons, and consistent with the fact that some of them seem to be cast from moulds taken from genuine spoons).

The net effect, is that there appears to be far more space around the star in the center on the faked spoon, than is the case with the genuine example. If you compare the distance between the tips of the star and the inner circle of holes, you'll quite clearly see the difference between the two spoons.

By Aion on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 04:57 am: Edit

Wouldn´t it be a good idea, to establish
a site here (on the buyer´s guide), where every manufacturer and seller is listed with full name, address, what he/she did offer/sell/make, and
how to find out the difference between genuine
and fake.

These Cormenier fakes, especially the Les Grilles,
seem to be very close to the originals.
I looked at the picture of this fake #11 and
the picture on Absinthdrinker´s site showing
a genuine one, and to be honest I saw no difference. And I´m notorious for seeing more
failures than are actually really there.


By Oxygenee on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 04:13 am: Edit

"Absinthe_fr" is, according to a Swiss dealer I spoke with this morning, one of Cormenier's many eBay disguises.

By Absinthedrinker on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 04:07 am: Edit

they do have a remarkably similar address...

By Crosby on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 08:52 pm: Edit

The faked Cuilleres #8 sold for FRF3,500.00 = $470.00. Unfreakin' believable. I've found that some of the French sellers have more than one user name that they sell under. Also I'm pretty sure that Cormenier is in partenership with a woman who sells under the name "absinthe_fr".

By Etienne on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 06:09 am: Edit

You got it Geoff, it's a tea strainer.

By Geoffk on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 05:59 am: Edit

The one with the windmill looks a bit like a tea strainer. The windmill is kind of a dutch thing, and they drink a lot more tea than absinthe in Holland.

Just a wild guess though. With what I know about absinthe spoons, I'm lucky I don't use a garden trowel by mistake.

-- Geoff K.

By Oxygenee on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 05:30 am: Edit

By Aion on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 01:21 am: Edit

What about these, genuine or fake:

By Aion on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 01:07 am: Edit

Maybe this was:
though it looks like a noodle-sieve.

By Mr_Rabid on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 12:15 am: Edit

But... But... what was it FOR?!?!?!!?

Straining the urine of Don Quixote?

Does it induce visions, this urine?

By Head_Prosthesis on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 10:57 pm: Edit

You gotta chase them windmills.

By Dr_Ordinaire on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 10:39 pm: Edit

They keep getting rococoer and rococoer...

By Chevalier on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 03:11 pm: Edit

The grillagées spoons would be most appropriate. Just light some charcoal underneath, get out the barbecue sauce and go for it!

By Etienne on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 03:06 pm: Edit

How about the super rare T-Lautrec spoon, that's a pretty pattern. One of the larger Eiffel tower patterns would have more surface area to heat up though.

By Chevalier on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 02:53 pm: Edit

Tattooed on his ass, you mean? He could heat a spoon and then brand himself with it, I suppose. Stranger things have happened ...

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 02:49 pm: Edit

as i told david,
it's time to get 'belle epoque' on his ass...

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 02:44 pm: Edit

actually, the 'tune-server' spoon is very awkward
and heavy and surprisingly unpleasant in real life...the amount of stuff is amazing now...remember, if someone just says it's an absinthe spoon, etc. and doesn't say old, genuine, or reproduction, it is technically not misrepresentation...but super-weazely...

By Etienne on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 01:59 pm: Edit

Of course Phil isn't responsible for the activities of less than honest individuals who may get their hands on what he produces. I don't think anyone here feels that way. Perhaps we're doing the best thing we can right now, discussing these things in a public forum, keeping information flowing about exactly what is going on in the field. As Peter so rightly said, an informed public creates interest, and an educated one will keep the fakes where they belong, as nothing more that items of curiosity.

By Chevalier on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 12:41 pm: Edit

Wonder if Ted & Don will offer "Jade" spoons (a la "La Fée")?

By Chevalier on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 12:24 pm: Edit

I'd be happy if an honest metalsmith created original, new absinthe spoon designs -- and advertised them as such. If they caught my eye and were reasonably priced, I'd be in line to buy them.

The second spoon from the left in Oxy's top photo was cobbled together from the trowel of an antique tuna server and the handle of an "ouvragées" absinthe spoon handle. It's quite nice, I think, and worth maybe $30 of my money. What a pity that its maker(?), M. Cormenier, didn't offer this spoon as what it is: a new, attractive hybrid. Instead, he lied and claimed that it was antique and authentic. Something potentially good became shady.

By Oxygenee on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 12:05 pm: Edit

I really don't think you can hold Phil responsible for the activities of unscrupulous vendors who may have modified his reproduction spoons to pass them off as genuine. The activities of JF Cormenier are another matter, and will I fear cause lasting damage to the field. He seems to be producing (either himself or via a partner) an ever increasing number of fakes - generally copied from extremely rare spoons. The problem is not the items Cormenier sells directly - by this stage every serious collector is aware that he is a highly dubious source. The problem will come in the months and years ahead, when entirely honest but not very knowledgable dealers (like the eBay vendor with this latest batch of spoons), unwittingly sell Cormenier's fakes as genuine. I'm attaching some jpegs of Cormenier fakes for reference.

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 10:26 am: Edit

well, my van gogh example was a little extreme...maybe we should look at all serious collecting with a darwinian attitude...we've all been burned, and then you decide how much you want to risk or how much you trust the guy(or gal) you buy it from...people end up more interested in the original when it is copied because -why was it so good to have it copied in the first place?- as chevalier says he has repros so not to worry about an original, so do i...i have phil's copy of the eiffel tower in my bag all the time because i like it and haven't been able to find a real one, and the fake one looks pretty bad, plus if it gets scratched, no big deal or if i want to use it or give it away, i can, without cringing...there will always be copies and fakes of everything that is interesting, popular or just good...when i lived in the florida keys, i made jewelry from spanish treasure coins that my friends found on shipwrecks...there were fakes and reproductions all over, and we refused to sell reproductions, so as to not lend suspicion that we were selling fakes...even the largest source
(the atocha wreck in key west)had a museum that sold reproductions along with the real thing...i predicted(badly) that this would eventually kill(or badly hurt) the market and the real ones have shot-up in value (it is almost impossible to find this type of spanish coin in spain now!)...what this has also created is a more informed public and a new interest in history by the people who picked one up...many collectors don't like it when the average joe starts buying a couple of things because then the sharks start to circle, and the price goes up...this is what's happening and i can tell you there are alot of french and swiss collectors who are pissed at the new internet world market for absinthe items, and they cuss and moan all the way to the bank...and a couple (at least one very prolific guy) are misrepresenting and faking's just the way it is...the guy who bought all those fakes had a pretty good idea the price was too good to be true...he was's a game with the real stuff, it's just commerce with the reproductions...

By Chevalier on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 09:11 am: Edit

Hmmm ... have mixed feelings about this one.

Frenchman Phil's repro spoons look great and can be used and abused without fear of devaluation. I can't really afford the originals he copied from; furthermore, I don't need the stress of worrying about whether the original is really a fake. Buying reproduction spoons -- clearly stated to be such -- from Frenchman ( Absinthespoon ( guarantees me a fair price and good night's rest.

Kudos to Phil for not reproducing the rarest spoons, such as the Feuilles de L'Absinthe. He's aware that doing so would hurt more than help. As for the forgers out there: screw 'em all with a pointy Les Feuilles. The best we can do is educate potential buyers and unknowing sellers. Kudos to the many here who have done just that.

By Etienne on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 07:24 am: Edit

My point wasn't that repros destroy the value of the originals, when you can be sure just what is original, but that for a beginning collector they can pose enough of a problem to completely turn them off of a particular item. This problem still exists for the more advanced collector, but they at least have more experience and probably a support network to turn to for advice, such as we have in several people here on the forum. Overall, why complicate life more than it already is?

By Etienne on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 07:07 am: Edit

Not the same thing at all, Peter, and I think there are a lot of Coca-Cola collectors that would agree with me. They've been one of the hardest hit fields. Talk to people who collect militaria, there are some areas where the repros are so good that you have to count the number of threads in a piece of Bullion work to try to tell if it's real and 70-80% of what's available is fake. I just hope that we never have to deal with a situation like that.

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 12:24 am: Edit

i know, ever since they got that van gogh in the poster shop, you can't give away an original...any coca cola collectors want to dispute this effect?

By Etienne on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 05:48 pm: Edit

I'm sorry to see that someone is reworking Phil's spoons, but it was inevitable that this would happen. The primary effect of issuing reproductions isn't to destroy the profitablilty of fakes, but to damage the market for the originals. Most people can't tell the difference, and all that is needed is to say "it's been reproduced" to kill a large part of the collector market.

By Petermarc on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 10:46 am: Edit

these spoons were presented to me at my office in paris on friday, where i gave the new owner (not the infamous source) the bad news...i complimented him on his desire to get a verification, and suggested that he not try to sell them as originals...he was obviously disappointed that these were faked, and i really felt that he would not try to represent them as original, if he tried to sell them, which he has done so in his disclosure...if they sell low, they would be amusing additions to a collection...are far as the quality is concerned, i don't remember saying 'belle' and the difference between the original long spoon #1 i had brought with me to show him, and the one he has was striking...however, it would be tough to know the difference, if you have not seen the real ones...i mentioned this quite some time ago, that in many cases the fakes are in silver or are much heavier and appear 'better' made than the real ones, many which were stamped out as opposed to will see pitting in the texture of the metal of many of the modern fakes...this leads to the new 'fake event' on the market...phil's eiffel tower (statement: phil does not sell fake spoons!)...i don't think ian had handled it, but i had one of phil's in my bag at the time to compare, when phil told me -look, my spoon is being trafficked!-...'FRENCHMAN'was filled off the back and the silver plating was off the end of the handle,exposing shiny brass... but also there were spots were the plating had been removed all around it, but because it was so shiny, it was hard to see...the woman wanted 1500 francs (around $200) for it and had confirmed it was original...very sad...the original was also stamped and plated, but the worn plating will sometimes look 'flakey' or be an obvious layer, instead of silver blending into brass which happens when it is polished...the irony is that phil made these in part to stop the fakes from being sold as originals, and made his spoon of excellent quality, obviously now tempting the unscrupulous...the same dealers that give phil a hard time for selling 'reproductions' as reproductions can often be seen with a fake spoon in their stock, being sold for's a tough crowd that should probably drink more absinthe,lighten up, and watch their own affairs ...

By Absinthedrinker on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 08:37 am: Edit

But the prize for blatant in-your-face fakery goes to the woman seller at the Jour de Pub in Paris who had erased the 'Frenchman' mark from one of Phil's Eiffel tower spoons (exposing the brass in the process) and was selling it as an antique on her stall. No attempt to distress the rest of the spoon had been made.

By Absinthedrinker on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 08:28 am: Edit

Aren't these the items mentioned in another thread? The seller does say that they are replicas in his description

By Chrysippvs on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 08:22 am: Edit

Just so that no one bids on them, all of the following spoons up for auctions are fakes:

Oxygenee, Peter, it looks like the Absinthemania may have more pseudonyms or this person just doesn't know any better.


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