Faking a fossil...Trilobites!!!
Is this guide helpful?
I'm writing this for those that don't know, hopefully to prevent someone from getting burned!
The idea of a fossil being faked is unbelievable to some people, but there are both sinister and legitimate reasons for "created" fossils.
Museums are experts at making replicas, and the legitimate reason for doing so is to provide study material of a priceless or one-of-a-kind fossil to distribute to other museums and colleges.
As you can imagine, the crooks out there have always sought to take advantage of peoples lust for rare fossils, and trilobites are easy to fake. And I can say with FULL CONFIDENCE that there is a great deal of fake fossils being sold on Ebay!! It isn't ebay's fault...but here's a few things to watch out for.
Morrocan trilobites.....treat EVERY one with skepticism!!! Especially trilobite multiples or plates with more than one species present, as this is incredibly rare in the real world. A trilobite 'plate' with several species on it would be an incredibly rare find and worth hundreds of thousands to museums...why would someone sell it on ebay for such a deal???? (Usually, if you do a little homework, you'll find the different species are from different time eras!!!)
Beware of very rare species being sold for very little or no reserve.
(And beware of species that are advertised as rare, many of them are common!)
Beware of trilobites that are missing key details, like the articulation of the thorax joints, or the lenses of the eyes.
Beware of 'too much' scratching on the matrix of Moroccan trilobites. Its done to hide or blend in false matrix that has been applied around the base of the trilobite.
READ sellers feedbacks! If there is ONE negative feedback claiming a fake trilo received...don't buy!!!!
Pay attention to how many people are bidding on that perfect and very rare species for sale. If there aren't a lot of bidders, then most people know somethings wrong!
Ask the seller questions! Species, age (era), how was it prepped, etc.. Usually the crooks will stumble on the tough questions, or not reply at all. Deal with knowledgable sellers or collectors that will answer your questions and know there stuff.
Beware of "perfect" or "Museum quality" specimens. Trilobites in the real world are usually imperfect in some way. Lab preparation of a fossil costs real money and time, and drives the price of "excellent" (real) fossils up quite a bit. Sellers would lose their shirts selling all these perfect trilo's on ebay for so little!
The best deals I've got came from individuals selling one or two trilobites. I've been burned several times buying trilobites from fossil "dealers" that deal only in Morrocan trilo's.
Trilobites from America and Europe are generally the real deal. Can't really say I've seen a fake from either areas. Morroco has always been a problem and will be in the future.
Check a sellers return policy. Obviously the crooks won't offer a return policy or have a lot of conditions.
Lastly...look carefully at the pictures! That trilo that is squashed, twisted, and broken and being sold by some old lady in Illinois is the real thing! BE CAUTIOUS of the guy that has 30 perfect trilos for sale!
As I sit here now, I have just observed 3 complete fakes and several suspect trilobites for sale on Ebay, and people are bidding on them! It infuriates me to no end!
I have at times seen replicas offered for sale and that IS a nice way to obtain a replica of a rare species if the price is fair. Don't be afriad to reward a sellers honesty with a bid if its a nice trilo.
I hope this prevents someone out there from getting ripped off,as this is a very ripe market for crooks! I DO wish everybody good luck and good bidding!