UPDATE: 29 June 2015, 16.35
This item has now been withdrawn! The seller has informed me by email that they are now going to get the item “properly examined by an expert” and will “reoffer it for sale with his findings”.
I am leaving the posting below as it was published, as it contains important information about modern engraving techniques.
Another item which claims a wartime Dambuster connection has just turned up on eBay. This is a silver cup which is said to have been given to Guy Gibson in 1940 in order to mark the award of his first DFC. It is being sold by a Sawbridgeworth antique dealer who would seem to have some perfectly legitimate material on his website, which makes it all the more peculiar that he is apparently selling this item without checking its provenance.
What is even odder is the eBay heading for the item. As can be seen from the screenshot above, it reads: “Old Silver Plate Cup Inscribed To D.Bader”. The photograph, however, quite clearly shows that the inscription is dedicated to “G.Gibson”. The seller has added a later note: “It is actually to g.gibson not d.bader. Sorry.”
The lettering has obviously been generated by a modern computer-aided machine engraving program. The giveaway is the superscript “th” after the number 9 in the date. This happens by default in Microsoft Word, as can be seen below, but would have been very uncommon in any engraving done in wartime:
In the 1940s all engraving was done by hand so each letter was slightly different. This is very obvious on genuine engravings of the period, for example on this silver tankard engraved during the war for Plt Off John Cockshott:
Unfortunately, there is a market for Second World War artifacts given a fake Dambuster connection. In December 2014, a dealer paid £17,000 back to a collector when the collector produced evidence that more than 20 items he had purchased had been “enhanced” with fake names and provenances. Last month, a telegram supposedly sent by “Bomber” Harris about the death of Guy Gibson was withdrawn from auction after it was shown to be a fake.
Glassware and tankards with engravings which supposedly have 617 Squadron connections have also sometimes appeared, but they too have had modern computer-aided machine engraving.
At the time of publishing, someone (1***7 in eBay language) has bid £102 for this cup. More fool them. And there are just over five days to go before bidding closes. It will be interesting to see what transpires over that time.