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Is it wrong to learn by copying antiques?

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We live in a world with many fake netsuke.  They flood ebay and lower tier auction houses and sell for hundreds to new collectors.  So is it wrong then for an amateur carver to learn by copying actual antiques?  If they are being made just to practice and learn, with no intent to deceive or sell then no harm no foul?

What about putting my own signature on a copy I've made of an antique?  Certainly it's wrong to fake the original artist's signature, but putting your own on their design? Iffy?

One counter point - didn't actual in period netsuke-shi students learn by copying designs of the masters in their school?  Then isn't learning this way "in tradition"?

Certainly these copies being made to practice and learn are going to be very crude and low quality which wouldn't fool any serious collector, especially when there is no intent to fool anyone.


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What I do is to use their carving to guide me . A lot of the old antique are out of Ivory, so if you use wood for your carving,it will be different and look different. I would not try to make my carving look exactly like anybody’s else carving. If I used another’s carving as a guide for mine I would let anyone who looks at it know that I used it as a guide.

What the copyright laws , rules are I do not know . 

I do a lot of insects carving and they are my guide , if someone has a famous carving of one and you carve one also , I don’t feel you are , or could be making a copy of theirs. 

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Thank you Ed that's a great way to think about it.  I'm not intending to make a facsimile of the original, I'm only intending to practice and learn.  So the original really is just a guide 👍

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