The Keswick school of industrial arts and the Keswick home industries produced beautiful arts and crafts items to strict construction rules which although slightly changed over the century of its production never deviated to any great degree.
Due to the popularity of both the Keswick school of industrial arts and the Keswick home industries FAKES are now appearing on the market. Some of the pieces are being sold as blatant fakes marked to deceive by sellers who should know better and others are being sold by sellers who have been unlucky enough to be caught out and are selling the pieces as genuine KSIA KHI pieces without knowing. There is a difference but the items are still FAKES.
Some construction rules that relate to the KSIA KHI are worth remembering when looking at any item you are considering buying before even looking at the marks.
ALL THE IMAGES BELOW SHOW CORRECT EXAMPLES OF HANDLES,MIRRORS,SEAMS,MARKS,STIPLING.
Handles on all items with handles carry a solid piece of either brass or copper and do not have folded edges grooves or folds. They will be riveted to the piece or beautifully and cleanly soldered not just soldered where you can see big blobs of solder or glued. The school teapots and spirit kettles often had a decorative 3 wired handle which is the exception to the rule. Flagons, Jugs, planters, handled vases etc should all have solid strong handles not folded over edge handles. One of the most common fakes is a jug that has a folded over handle and an overlapping seam. The jug is also not of the quality you would expect from either the KSIA or KHI. The mark is also spurious but we will get to that later.
Mirrors made by either the KSIA or KHI are always made in the same way by affixing the decorative worked metal to the backing wood by screws from the front. The screws are often used as part of the decorative pattern. The edges to the worked metal will always have a rolled or turned edge often on to a half wire for structural purposes. NEVER are mirrors made with the metal fixed by either being folded over the back and glued or tacked with little pins or simply just attached. If the mirror is not screwed to the back from the front then it's not a KSIA or KHI mirror. The backing wood is always either ply or 4 pieced.
Seams on all KSIA KHI items are flush butted joins soldered on the inside showing only a pencil thin line of solder to the outside if any. The join is smooth and flat to the touch and should not be over lapped, dovetailed nor riveted. Any pieces that aren't flush soldered will not be KSIA KHI. That applies to vases, jugs, boxes, planters and any other item made at either place.
Marks are always the last thing to look for. Once you are sure the piece is right then look for the mark. The mark was struck with a single strike with the letters reading clockwise KIAS generally in a diamond formation but early pieces may bear a straight line mark KSIA or the KSIA in a diamond encased with a 4 line border(see below)The diamond jubilee mark carries the Victoria crown and the date 1897(yet to see a fake diamond jubilee mark) WH Mawson KHI was stamped in line format and when Mawson left his showrooms on lake road the mark changed to WH Mawson Keswick instead of the KHI. The fake marks are generally easy to spot. Letters are spaced too far apart or touching. The letters of one faker are actually put in the wrong order. The letters are too large or they are placed in a stupid place. Often there will be an obvious dip under the letters where the mark was applied using a softer underplate like wood and the metal bends under the strikes.The latest fake mark appearing is showing the ksia mark as a triple strike.The same rules apply.
Also thinking of dubious marks when the very early pieces were made in the parish rooms before the die strike was made the letters would have been added singular but the piece would still be made to the strict construction rules of the school and the freehand marks of this period are always on the most beautifully made pieces.
Stippling on the metal from the KSIA and KHI was often very fine and circular apart from the known crows feet technique. So when looking at the work on a piece look at the back stippling and ask yourself is it quite fine and skilful. Lots of hammer strikes went in to the back stippling on work and each hammer strike was time and as we all know time is money. If the stippling is random chunky and more random be suspicious.
Night School work is just that. Often made by amateurs often quite skilled but done in the parish rooms under the tutelage of KSIA workers. Sometimes night school pieces carry a fake mark but often the work is just not quite up to the standard; remember a good unmarked Keswick piece is far better than a night school piece carrying a fake mark. Workers often made pieces for family members and these pieces are often of the highest quality but Unmarked.I was lucky enough to buy a lot of Mr Robinsons pieces that he made for his wife.All the pieces were Unmarked but were of the highest ksia quality and as such I was delighted to have the pieces in the shop as Unmarked ksia pieces all sold as such.....
Please use your instinct and common sense...if it sounds like a duck, walks like a duck and looks like a duck it's probably a duck...the same applies...if it feels and looks like a piece from the KSIA KHI then it probably is...using all the info above should help to keep you safer when buying...lets all stop the fakers together..if in doubt get in touch although it is only my opinion it's based on handling and selling hundreds and hundreds of pieces......enjoy!!