WHAT'S THE REAL DEAL?
Can you tell the difference between an original, a fake, a copy or a restoration? What's the difference? Does it even make a difference if it has intellectual, monetary or evidential value? How do you even define these?
When it comes to evidential proof, look no further than the importance of celebrity signatures. These are evidence that a firsthand event between the celebrity and the signature receiver happened, such as so-n-so racer was at that track when Jane Doe got him to sign her hat, maybe even one she got from a sponsor at the track that day. Is the fan's signed hat valued more or less if that same racer signed a helmet to be sold for charity to the highest bidder?
Many would say either has more value than a mass-produced poster that has that same racer's signature printed on hundreds of posters mailed out to fans. But what if that poster was of his final win of his career? What if it gives a best still-accessible representation of his car for that racing season? Depending on whether you're looking at the intellectual, monetary or evidential worth will define the value placed.
A term that comes up in archivists and collectors circles is the term "provenance" which is basically the history of an item. Provenance is one of those markers that let you know whether something is "real" or not. But what does that really mean?
Provenance n. (provenancial, adj.) ~ 1. The origin or source of something. - 2. Information regarding the origins, custody, and ownership of an item or collection.
In the world of motorsports vehicles, terms like restoration, maintenance, reproduction and modification are common terms which are easily found in the world of museum collections as well. The trick is taking the time to follow and record the provenance when available, noting the physical difference from one version to another as well as the history or story line. It's when the provenance of an item is tampered and a known falsehood or possibility about the origin, custody or ownership of the object is defined as a definite truth that the line between real and fake becomes more defined. What if some parts are original but new parts have been added to change it, such as a coat with patches or or an older car with a new engine? What about a printout of a digitally produced image?
Authenticity n. ~ 1. The quality of being genuine, not a counterfeit, and free from tampering, and is typically inferred from internal and external evidence, including its physical characteristics, structure, content, and context. - authentic, adj. ~ 2. Perceived of as genuine, rather than as counterfeit or specious; bona fide.
Authentic Copy n. ~ A reproduction that has been officially certified, especially so that it may be admitted as evidence.
Each item has a story, has a history, can give evidence of an event or share intellectual understanding of the subject(s) an object encompasses, especially when an original is not available. For many donors, items gifted to the World of Speed Archive represent experiences in their lives either taking part in motorsports themselves or as a fan of others in motorsports. Whether or not its real or fake does not devoid their story and have shared value.
Often it's not simply what is real and what is fake, or whether a copy is necessarily not authentic. Sometimes modifications are made to match the needs of the present and sometimes modifications are made to bring an item back to an earlier version. Others are simply copies that hold the information before the original becomes too damaged or deteriorated. Here at World of Speed we do our best to divulge any information we have about our donated and loaned objects' origins and history along the way, and most of all the stories surrounding them, and where they may lay in the spectrum of real and authentic.