We can never say it to you enough: always beware fakes before you considering buying a collectible. This was the problem encountered by Sheffield Railwayana Auctions following its sale of a Manchester United football memorabilia plate at Derbyshire County Cricket Club, UK, on Saturday.
The piece in question was a Manchester United football club locomotive nameplate. Auctioned with a £100,000 estimate, bids eventually reached £40,000. Yet when the winning bidder examined his win, he deemed it a reproduction and refused to continue with the purchase.
Chris Dickerson, from Sheffield Railwayana Auctions, told the Derbyshire Telegraph: "The customer came to see it yesterday morning and when they took the back board off they said it looked quite modern and not as though it dated back to 1937.
Above, the 'reproduction' Manchester United locomotive plate sold
"He is a well-known collector and has got over 100 locomotive nameplates... The hammer might go down but an item is only sold when the customer hands over the money. Sometimes items do get through auction and then prove to be fake."
The plate, understood to have been designed by Nigel Gresley, had been shipped over from America for the auction. Dickerson stated that the plate will "either be sent back to the vender in America or will be sold privately here. But as a reproduction it is not expected to reach more than £500 now."
The buyer of the Manchester United FC plate learned his lesson the hard way. But you can avoid making the same mistake by doing your research prior to bidding in an auction.
Inspecting the item first-hand prior to a sale, quizzing the seller thoroughly and digging deeper into researching an item's provenance are all steps you can take prior to bidding in an auction.
Pieces we've handled in recent times which boast impeccable provenance include this 1966 England World Cup squad autographed menu. It has been signed by the legendary World Cup-winning '66 England squad and other players.
That's more than 22 autographs on one sheet, including such legends as Geoff Hurst, Bobby Charlton and team captain Bobby Moore. And, because we're a dealer rather than an auction house, you can ask us as many questions as you like about this rare piece of football memorabilia.