Dabbling in cast iron and pottery collecting we quite often frequent antique stores in our travels. We’ve seen people using black lights in examination of various items but gave it little thought until I stumbled on about.com.antiques on the internet. Some of the information presented here comes from them.
Many antique lovers use a long wave black light to date objects and test for authenticity. Some clues to age or telltale signs of repair aren’t easily visible to the naked eye, but will fluoresce under ultraviolet light. While it’s not the end all answer in antique authentication and dating, it is a good place to start.
We mainly collect Griswold cast iron and Watt pottery and have seen some reproduction pieces trying to be passed off at authentic pieces. We haven’t used a black light yet but I’m looking to unpack the box where I do have 2 from my Haz Mat instruction days. The reproductions we have seen look authentic at first sight but upon close examination you know they are not real.
Vintage banks, mechanical toys and door stops from the early 1900’s were made from cast iron. If they contain the original paint, they are quite valuable to collectors. It’s generally this high dollar type of antique that is being reproduced. One has to be careful when purchasing these items.
Most modern paints will fluoresce whereas the older, original paints do not. Not noticing painted repairs and reproductions of cast iron pieces could prove costly. Besides the paint not glowing, also check for signs of age and wear to make sure the represented age is authentic. If extremely valuable, have the piece evaluated by an expert besides your personal evaluation.
Black light use is valuable in:
Detecting porcelain repairs
Dating glass and testing for reproduction
Authenticating works of art
Detecting repairs of cast iron
These are probably but a few uses for a black light in testing antiques and collectibles.
Keep your fork