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A replica is an accurate copy of an object. Replicas of watches, archeology, paintings, sculptures, cars and historical buildings are made. Replicas of art objects are shown, as the original object must be preserved in a special way. This is then too expensive or too fragile to show. An example are the Lascaux petroglyphs. Large buildings that were lost in military conflicts, for example, are sometimes also rebuilt as replicas, such as the Burmese Palace of Mandalay.
Replicas of art objects are also made because they are cheaper (and possibly more available) than the original. The Chinese town of Dafen is known for the large production of painted replicas of paintings. Around five million are produced annually. Dafen therefore accounts for 60 percent of the world production of replica paintings.
Replicas of devices of historical interest are often made for display because the original item has been lost or is unavailable. There are replicas of the first aircraft in an aviation museum.
Musicians who want to perform old music in an authentic way do use replicas of old instruments, for example of a viola da gamba, a fortepiano or a harpsichord.
Replicas are sometimes made as “tribute” to the achievements of a particular person, such as a car or motorcycle racer. Replica motorcycles of well-known racing bikes as well as replica helmets are sold.
A replica of a weapon falls under the Weapons and Ammunition Act if it resembles a weapon in such a way that it is suitable for threat or imminent threat.
A forgery is an object or document that the forger wants to pass off as the work of another. In case of doubt about the authenticity, an expert tries, by comparison with recognized authentic material, to determine whether or not there is a forgery.
A counterfeit is different from a replica. A replica is not made with the aim of passing for real and authentic. For example, the maker of a replica of a painting will not place the signature of the original maker, but his own signature.
Counterfeits occur in many areas. For example, there are forgeries of art objects (paintings and drawings, archeology, relics, etc.), official documents (diplomas, government documents such as passports), and products of beloved brands. Counterfeiting of money and passports is most common.
The motives for forgery can vary widely. In World War II, resistance groups forged passports and coupons in their fight against the occupiers. Sometimes there is a mystification, a joke or trap that got out of hand, for example to embarrass gullible or overly convinced experts. The forgeries of Johannes Vermeer’s paintings by Han van Meegeren are an example of this. In particular, the authority of the art connoisseur Abraham Bredius was undermined by this affair. One can falsify documents to commit falsification of history. In many cases people are generally convinced that this is a forgery, but it also happens that others still maintain the authenticity. This situation occurs around the Shroud of Turin. Medieval charters were forged in order to acquire more rights to the territory, for example.
Documents can be judged on their authenticity by means of internal and external criticism. Internal criticism looks at the style, credibility and consistency of stated facts and at the language use; the method of dating is also a criterion. External criticism looks at the materials used and their application: the writing support, the writing hand, the layout and the ink used. For medieval charters the so-called discrimination veri ac falsi, the distinction between true and false, was the motive for developing a separate historical auxiliary science, the doctrine of charters or diplomatic. The medieval popes already issued decrees explaining the criteria for establishing the authenticity of papal charters and seals. Among other things, to prevent forgery, certain legal acts must be recorded and recorded by a notary in an authentic deed. The practice of reading notarial deeds in the presence of parties and signing by witnesses also serve this purpose.