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Slavery artifacts, it turns out, aren’t the real deal

The slavery items that the Museum of Culpeper History purchased at a Pennsylvania auction on Memorial Day turned out to be fakes.

Questions about authenticity began to surface from knowledgeable readers after photos of the neck collar and shackles appeared in Wednesday’s Free Lance–Star.

Those questions—and the skepticism of others—led museum curator Lee Langston–Harrison to have experts check them out.

“I took the collection to Steve Sylvia in Orange [with J.S. Mosby Antiques & Artifacts in Orange and publisher of North South Trader’s Civil War magazine] . . . and he said without any reservation that the pieces are fake,” Langston–Harrison said in a news release Thursday.

Langston–Harrison paid an undisclosed amount of money for the five-piece collection at Mishler Auction Service near Johnstown, Pa., in large part because the collar had a nameplate that said it was owned by a “Banncroft and Chadwick” of Culpeper, VA.

“To say that I am embarrassed and in absolute disbelief is an understatement,” Langston–Harrison said. “As the director, I take full responsibility for this situation, and I apologize profusely for getting the Museum involved in such an unfortunate matter.”

Langston–Harrison said the auction company has offered a full refund for the collection, which was paid for with donated funds and no taxpayer dollars.

According to experts, many fake slavery items were manufactured in the 1970s and now occasionally appear on the market, especially on buy-and-sell websites.

Donnie Johnston: