Well, what is claimed to be an original TOS Tricorder is up for sale again on eBay. The item comes with no provenance and a questionable COA. The Tricorder appears to many who know TOS props to be a Mark English fake. Interestingly, the members over at The Trek Prop Zone, who are some of the most knowledgeable and scholarly TOS prop collectors, have unanimously stated that this is a Mark English fake.
For those of you who don’t know, there was a chap in the 80’s who made very good copies of TOS props, even went to the length of aging them to make them appear old, and sold them as real. His name was Mark English. Many Star Trek collectors were taken in, and still are. (The B&W Phaser in the Azarian Collection is most likely an ME fake).
Even the former owner of the current Tricorder claimed that the Tricorder is indeed a Mark English fake.
Now, it is not only that the vast majority of the Star Trek prop collecting population who are knowledgeable here state this is a replica, but most collectors’ find the terms of sale questionable.
1) A savvy original prop collector (which the seller clearly appears to be) would not likely list a five figure important and iconic prop such as this for sale on eBay – it makes no business sense. Such a piece would be consigned with a reputable auction house, and subsequently, be required to stand up to the further public scrutiny of the collecting world. A seasoned collector would take the time, energy, and expense to have it professionally authenticated by the top expert(s) in the field. The more solid provenance, the higher the market value. With a prop such as this, provenance is everything.
2) The marketing description in the auction is dense with text, information, and opinions, but when it comes down to it, all there seems to be in terms of provenance is a COA from a long defunct auctioneer. Most of the comments provided by the seller have no relevance to provenance and authenticity, and in many instances are distractions and misleading (namedropping other auction houses, talking about extensive research and reference materials, and references to other tools that are apparently not applicable or employed with regards to the prop actually offered).
3) No mention is made of the many fake TOS pieces in the marketplace, the unfortunate reality that an iconic piece such as a tricorder is more likely fake than authentic, and that such pieces have been falsely authenticated by prop dealers, experts, and even current and reputable auction houses.
4) The seller showcases the values realized for presumed authentic examples of such a piece at Profiles in History, yet the seller lists his on eBay for well below the true market value of a genuine piece – still a remarkable sum of money for any prop – yet it comes across as a sales tactic to induce a novice or casual collector into believing that they can buy this piece and consign it with Profiles and make a lot of money.
6) Citation of the Business Wire as well as the “Movie Poster Almanac” as authorities on the reputation of the seller’s source, Heather Holmberg Auctions, as an original prop expert, when those entities do not in my opinion have the capacity to do so.
7) The boilerplate, “As Is” sales policy borrowed in part directly from the Profiles in History catalog and amended gives a potential buyer no recourse in the event the piece is not authentic.
So my suggestion is to stay away from this Tricorder.
The Tricorder on eBay: