This is a brief basic guide. Over the years I have constantly seen black powder flasks that are replicas/reproductions presented as being original, valuable flasks. Many times these flasks are innocently presented by sellers who do not know what they have or the sellers have incorrect information.
I have over thirty seven (37) years constant experience with these flasks.
Sometimes these replica/reproduction flasks are presented as rare, valuable, originals by sellers hoping to take advantage of unsuspecting ebay buyers. Some flask listings are outright fraud. Flasks pictured here are replica/reproductions.
Sellers often use wording and descriptions such as: "Civil War", "Antique", "I have been told it is from the Civil War", "Civil War era", "antique flask", "believed to be from the Civil War" , "found in the estate/attic of ______ ", "vintage" and many other words that seem believable. "Vintage" may not add value if the exact same item is currently available new. Flowery word descriptions of flask images can be misleading. Patina can be and is done on brand new items. Often these descriptions are pulled out of thin air. Sellers sometimes have some "family history" which may be incorrect.
There are also many genuine flasks on ebay.
In this guide we are ONLY addressing the most common incorrect listings. Replica/reproduction flasks in many types/styles have been around since the 1960's. They have been made in huge, huge, quantities and many variations.
Flasks can look "antique" with just a few years use and handling contact with corrosive residue from ignited black powder. New flasks can have the factory clear coat, if any, removed and be made to look old by many methods. Patina can be done on modern flasks.
Following are some of the most common "red flags" to look for in item pictures:
1. Brass screws. Very small brass screws are used mainly to hold flask top on. Original flasks generally used iron or later on steel screws. (Screw holding a spring will be steel on replicas and iron or steel on originals.)
2. If made with a thumb lever which operates the spring to open valve & release powder - look on lever top for a round circle in the brass (sometimes there will be a letter inside the circle) - this is a sign of modern investment casting. Caution: Not all thumb lever style flasks will have the circle and it can be removed.
3. Any markings on the flask, especially the spout, which state: "Made in Italy" or "Italy". The majority of flask spouts are not marked.
4. Or seldom seen, marking on the upper flask body in block letters, which state: "MADE IN USA".
To see lots of replica/reproduction flasks go to Dixie Gun Works or Cabelas and search flask.
Included in flask search results at Dixie Gun Works you will usually see various original flasks.
If you doubt the originality of a flask, ask the seller a question through ebay. Most sellers are honest and will try to help you. I like to preface questions with "No offense intended". If you get back "weasel words", vague answers, or no response - these are more red flags. If you still want the item; ask the seller if they will guarantee the item to be original or as they described it. Also ask what proof, if any, the seller will require that the item is not as listed before they will refund your money. Always be polite when asking seller's questions. Look at the seller's policies and feedback for information about their business practices.
Most ebay sellers are honest, but also remember: "Caveat emptor".
Do not rush into buying a powder flask without doing your research. Remember ebay is an ongoing auction and there will be lots more flasks to bid on. The few dishonest sellers hope unknowing buyers do not find out they were cheated and then request a refund in a timely manner.
It is VERY IMPORTANT to remember that ebay can not possibly police all the sellers who knowingly or innocently present replica/reproductions as genuine antiques.
This basic, brief guide was written out of frustration with the repeated, very few ebay sellers, who continue to cheat ebay buyers with fraudulent flask listings and the constant innocent incorrect listings.
PLEASE > click below on Yes or No to rate if you were helped by this guide. Thank you for reading this and good luck. Thank you to the ebay members who took a moment to rate this guide. Your feedback is appreciated !