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Master Forger

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A character who specialises in creating fakes which are undistinguishable from the real thing. - Will launch very soon.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
MGD107 on Dec 30th 2018 at 11:13:24 AM
Last Edited By:
MGD107 on 11 hours ago
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

No living man in England could tell a Prescot from a Bank of England...
Killer Evans, The Adventure of the Three Garridebs

Whether running a criminal conspiracy, a high stakes theft, a professional espionage operation or sometimes simply trying to get ahead in life, it is an accepted fact certain resources are essential to pulling it off, be it sufficient funds, official permits, counterfeit works of art etc. But these are all hard (if not impossibility) to obtain. So quite often your best option is to make your own. But in these stakes, ordinary counterfeits simply won't cut it. You need them to undisguisable from the real thing.

Enter the Master Forger. He (and it is normally a he) is your expert when it comes to producing Counterfeit Cash, forged papers or duplicate paintings. Whatever it is they forge (and don't be surprised if they specialise in several areas) they are the best.

Expect them to be getting on in years, a sign of having spent their life learning and perfecting their craft. If they forge practical objects (such as money or papers), expect them to be a skilled artisan, but clearly a working man potential even in overalls. If they forge art however, expect them to be cultured, refined and most likely a bit pedantic, they will commonly see themselves as Artists equal to (or perhaps superior) to whoever's masterpiece they copy.

In either case, expect them to be a meticulous professional (at least when working), who take an enormous deal of not underserved pride in their talents and do not take kindly to those who mock their skills. Don't be surprised (especially in the case of art frauds) for the question to be brought up why someone of their obvious talent spends their life making copies. Perhaps they dreamed of being a great craftsman in their youth but lacked originality; maybe their talents were ignored by an ignorant populace or maybe forging just pays more.

The key mark of this archetype is their skill, whatever they forge is so good that only professional experts would be able to tell them apart from the genuine article (with some good enough to fool even them), and if they work is discovered as fake it most likely down to sheer bad luck.

Overall this is a morally flexible trope with the Master Forger being anywhere on the scale, from the Loveable Rogue to a dangerous criminal. Due to Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness if the antagonist it is rare for them to be the Big Bad, more often a highly skilled underling. Quite commonly the Boxed Crook in espionage works.

Not to be confused with Ultimate Blacksmith who works in a forge.

See also Effective Knockoff, which the main product of this trope.

Note: As Tropes Are Flexible, perfectly legitimate craftsmen and artists can also qualify for this trope, provided they are renowned for or shown to be able to create impressive counterfeits of something that it isn't their profession to create.


Examples:

Anime

  • Lupin III: In The Castle of Cagliostro, the MacGuffin that starts the plot and occasionally is referenced are the "Goat Bills", created in secret inside of the titular castle by the evil branch of the country's royal family with quite the Historical Rap Sheet (being allegedly one of the main reasons The Great Depression happened, among others). The operation has been going for so long that the Bills have achieved a legendary status as being virtually impossible to distinguish from the real deal (unless you are just that good at spotting them, like Lupin is).
  • Black Lagoon: The "Greenback Jane" arc involves the titular counterfeiter, who is allegedly the best in the business, being hunted down through Roanapur by a Carnival of Killers. Turns out that said carnival was hired by the same branch of The Mafia that hired her to produce counterfeit cash, but because as good as she is she's also The Perfectionist, the massive loss in time and money that she was causing them because she was continuously working to create a "perfect" (well, in her eyes) counterfeit bill ended with her project being deemed Awesome, but Impractical (infuriatingly so) and the Mafia deciding to cut their losses and just kill her.

Comics

  • Bookhunter: The thief "Kettle Stitch" (real name Susan Lovelace) makes a forgery of a priceless historical Bible, so when she steals the real thing from its display at Oakland Public Library, she leaves the copy behind in its place. Her forgery is good enough, the library staff don't even notice the theft until weeks later—though it's not good enough to fool a trained document analyst from the police. Then the ending twist reveals the book she stole was actually another forgery. Chief Spencer, head of Oakland Library's security, had swiped the real Bible months before and replaced it with a copy of his own creation.
  • Mickey Mouse Comic Universe: Being a Master Criminal, amongst his many other talents over the years the Phantom Blot has often been portrayed as an expert forger. Usually if his plan involves stealing paintings, he will have personally painted identical forgeries to swap them for. He's also been the mastermind behind several money counterfeiting scams.

Comic Strips

  • Rex Morgan, M.D.: Rex once took his young daughter Sarah to meet an art teacher at his warehouse studio. When asked why he lived so shabbily, the man's response was that he'd been under the thumb of criminal art dealers who demanded that he paint forgeries of acclaimed works. Once the shady dealers were nabbed by the police, this artist went into hiding. He works a subsistence job, and tutors vouchsafed pupils on the side.

Animated Film

  • Anastasia: Count Vladimir from Don Bluth's animated feature. Planning to escort his partner Dmitri and orphan Anya out of Soviet Russia Vladimir has already forged their passports. But discovers during the escape that the new government has changed the design from the old czarist blue; the new ones under Stalin are in red. "Everything in red," he laments. Somehow, Vladimir is able to forge completely new passports in less than an hour aboard a moving train that pass a cursory inspection by the Soviet police.

Live-Action Film

  • The Counterfeiters: Sally Sorowitsch is one of Europe's foremost experts in counterfeiting money. Unfortunately for him, he's also a Jewish man in Nazi Berlin. In exchange for his life, he agrees to help with a scheme to flood America with counterfeit dollars in order to destroy the US economy and prevent them from joining World War II.
  • F for Fake: Orson Welles's documentary is about Elmyr de Hory, a forger who spent decades selling fakes of Picasso, Matisse, and others, before the art world finally caught on.
  • The Great Escape: Blythe is a heroic version of this trope, being a forger who forges travel passes, identity cards, etc. for the allied POWS.
  • The Three Musketeers (1973): The Duke of Buckingham, having met The Three Musketeers while on a secret mission in France, discovers that two large jewels are missing from his collarpiece. These were taken by the guileful Countess de Winter to keep the Duke from spoiling her machinations. The Duke visits a decrepit-looking fellow called Felton who happens to have a talent for making copies, and hires him thusly:
    The Duke: Can you make two more exactly like these? [displays the collarpiece]
    Felton: Eh, I'll need two, maybe three weeks...
    The Duke: Two hundred crowns if you have them by tomorrow.
    Felton: Done!
  • Without a Trace: Mexican art seller "Ana" sells to wealthy Americans what she claims are ancient Mayan artifacts. In actually, they're modern day creations made by contemporary Mayan artists, traced over their own ancestors' artifacts and artificially aged.

Literature

  • The Emperor's Soul: Wan ShaiLu is a supernatural version being a master in the magic of Forgery, which transmutes objects by changing their past through Retconjuration. To manage this, she became an accomplished Polymath and studied under one of the greatest artists of the age — and then she's recruited to Forge a soul... and, against impossible odds, succeeds.
  • The Day of the Jackal: The titular Jackal acquires a set of false identity cards from a forger, who is not only able to make such papers but also advises the Jackal how to make himself look older (his plan is to disguise himself as an elderly wounded veteran so he can conceal a Scaramanga Special rifle in a set of crutches). The forger makes the fatal mistake of trying to blackmail the Jackal for more money.
  • Making Money: As part of his efforts to move the economy out of gold standard, Moist finds the forger who'd been making his own perfect versions of Ankh-Morpork stamps and recruits him to design paper money.
  • The Odessa File: Klaus Winzer, a side character, was a calligrapher in his youth before being commissioned into the SS to work at forging Allied banknotes; after the war, he goes to work forging ration coupons for the black market and then forges identity papers for fugitive Nazis.
  • Red Square: This Arkady Renko novel features Borya Gubenko AKA "Boris Benz", who attempts to sell a "lost" Soviet painting, in an interesting variant the painting itself is genuine, but the crate and documentation that contain the painting are forged. The only way Boris could figure to sell the painting after the fall of the Soviet Union, was by faking where he found it.
  • Sherlock Holmes:
    • The Valley of Fear, McMurdo presents himself as a forger, showing Boss McGinty several coins which "never saw the Philadelphia Mint" and look indistinguishable from real coins, managing to hide his equipment in a single small room even when the police come calling. In fact they were likely real, since McMurdo is actually a Pinkerton Agent infiltrating the Scowrers.
    • The crux of events in The Adventures the Three Garridebs is the antagonist, dangerous gunman 'Killer' Evans was in a partnership five years before the story, with one called Prescot, which ended when Evans shot him. Released from prison he attempts to get hold of the fortune in Counterfeit notes Prescot had already made. When caught he even claims he should have received a medal, as even the Bank of England couldn't tell Prescot's notes were fakes.

Live Action TV

  • 'Allo 'Allo!:
    • Monsieur Roger Leclerc is a professional forger who provides whatever papers, passports and anything else the resistance need to implement whichever Zany Scheme they are trying this episode. He is introduced in the first episode when the resistance (literally) break him out prison to exploit his talents. Whilst an utter bumbler in just about everything else (his disguises in particular are especially unconvincing, even by this shows standards), throughout the shows run not a single one of his forgeries is ever caught. A plot point in early seasons however, is that the only thing he can't forge are paintings, forcing them to look for outside help in their many schemes to steal the priceless painting 'The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies'.
    • Roger's identical twin brother, Ernest, whom he switches places with in prison sometime before season six (as the prison food is better than Madame Edith's cooking) takes over this role for the rest of the series. If anything, he is better than his brother as he can also forge paintings.
    • Lt. Gruber is also a master, if reluctant, forger of paintings, revealing that he had spent several years before the war studying Art. As part of one of the Colonel's many plans, he creates copies of both "The Fallen Madonna With Big Boobies by Van Clomp" and "The Cracked Vase with the Big Daisies by Van Gogh", which are stolen, confused with the originals, and generally used in the multiple bait and switch thefts throughout the series.
  • Blindspot: Boston Arliss Crab, Rich Dotcom's old associate and on again/off again boyfriend, is a recurring character throughout the series. As well as being a highly capable cybercriminal Boston is an expert art forger. When initially called in to repair one of the priceless Gardner paintings which the team need for a sting operation, he not only succeeds but casually switches the real paintings; with identical copies he made beforehand right beneath the FBI's nose.
  • Hawaii Five-O: One case involves a man who was a professional counterfeiter for the mob in his youth, before he faked his death to escape the lifestyle. Decades later, now a happy retiree he learns that his facility is going bankrupt. Attempting to save it, he unearths two steel printing plates for $20 bills that he'd made in his younger days. One of his "test" printings is only detected because a bank has a policy of checking older bills with specialised computer-assisted imagine scanning. Unfortunately, the teller informs a news crew about this, which alerts the man's old mob boss that his lackey is alive and well. The man's friends are held hostage while two thugs coerce the man into printing more fake $20's.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent:
    • The episode "Art", which has the detectives covering a murder case involving art forgery has a renowned forger as a supporting character. His work is considered so impeccable that a number of his forgeries are still hanging in museums undetected.
    • The episode The Gift, has a Catholic charity falls prey to an expert forger who seeks to discredit its patron saint because he blames the charity for taking advantage of his mentally-ill mother.
  • Leverage: Whilst primarily a computer expert, one of Alec Hardison's many talents is creating forgeries to the point that he taught himself how to create period-looking art that can hold up to close inspection.
  • Lovejoy: As the series is based on wacky schemes involving antiques, it has featured several master forgers, including Lovejoy himself; both good and villainous forgers. One particularly ingenious forger had to be tracked down in Italy where he was turning out brand new genuine old Italian paintings.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: The subplot of Notes involves Cookie finding out about a mysterious figure called 'Le Forger' who can perfectly forge excuse notes for anything, even allowing people to sleep in class, which he sells to students in exchange for Macaroons. The operation only ends when Cookie gets to greedy, exploiting his notes so much that the teachers catch on and almost follow him back to Le Forger. The ending implies he is secretly Martin Qwerly.
  • Porridge: Whilst never seen, "Inky" Stevens, described by Harry Grout as "the finest forger in the country", is severing a term in Slade prison. As such in No Way Out when under pressure from the other East End bosses to arrange the escape and disappearance of a dim-witted but well connected inmate; rather than have the papers forged by his contacts on outside, Grouty forces Fletcher to smuggle a blank passport into Slade and recruits Stevens to forge it.
  • Private Schulz: In retaliation to the British dropping forged ration coupons, the SS recruit the greatest forgers from prisons and concentration camps, supervised by an also recruited convicted con artist (the titular Schulz), to make forged British pound notes in an attempt to wreck the British economy. The fake money turns out to be so well made they use them to pay their own Agents. Schulz spends a large part of the series trying to steal a large portion to secure his future after the war. He only succeeds in getting one five pound note, which he promptly loses to a waiter who mistakes it for a tip.
  • Trial & Error: It's revealed that there's one living in East Peck who has a skill for creating forgeries. His name is Forge "Clooney" (yes, Clooney is his nickname, not Forge) and he works at the local ice cream shop. Joshua goes to him to ask about something from Jessie Ray's trial. He's later found frozen to death inside his own freezer.
  • White Collar: Neal Caffrey is a conman who is also a master forger, capable of forging paintings, sculptures, banknotes and even rare whiskey. A number of episodes have him and the FBI go up against other master forgers or people dealing in fake artefacts. In one instance Neal and fellow forger Mozzie create a perfect forgery of a painting and then deliberately add minor flaws so the FBI lab can expose it as a fake and thus stop investigating what happened to the original.

Video Game

  • Ace Attorney: Drew Misham made and sold forged paintings on the black market and sometimes even forged evidence. Phoenix lost his license when he was tricked into presenting one of Misham's works in court. In actuality, Misham was just the seller. The true forger was his daughter Vera, who copied the paintings while her father sold them to keep them financially solvent. This ended Drew's murder and Vera's attempted murder when the true culprit behind Zak and Magnifi Gramayre's deaths tried to silence both Mishams with poison.
  • Dragon's Dogma: Mountebank sets up a shop named The Black Cat, which provides a counterfeiting service providing forgeries of most items for a fee. Normal items and scripts can be perfectly replicated, effectively duplicating them. Magical items such as Wakestones don't work as the original do, however.

Web Comics

  • The Order of the Stick: Though he's not a forger by trade, Redcloak commissions a master goblin craftsman to produce a forgery of Lord Xykon's phylactery. Despite not having the original at hand as a reference, he recreates it perfectly down to "every detail, every scratch" and passes it off as the original.

Western Animation

  • The Flintstones: One episode had Betty pretending to be an old woman so she could work for a crippled old lady that needed a gofer for her grocery purchases. It turned out that the "crippled old lady" was a notorious forger that was testing her newest batch of fake dollars by making Betty buy stuff for her, and the whole reason for the "old lady" disguise was that she had become so wanted by law enforcement that she needed to create a Fall Guy. Betty was eventually caught by the cops and she led them to where the "old lady" was and sure enough, nothing was found and Betty became the prime suspect of the forgery scheme. It took Fred tricking the police into a high speed chase after him to expose the real forger.
  • The Simpsons: The climax of one episode reveals that the painting that the family believed was a priceless work of art is in fact a forgery painted by one. When asked why the arts officials didn't notice it was a fake, he happily boasted that his paintings had fooled the greatest arts experts all over the world for years, and defended his habit by arguing that obsessing over the paintings value defeated the whole point of appreciating the art.

Real Life

  • Han van Meegeren was a Dutch painter who, distraught with his failure at following the fashions of the time, decided to make and sell fakes of Veermer and other artists from the Dutch Golden Age, which managed to fool even experts. After World War II, faced with the possibility of being shot for treason and collaborating with the Nazis (he sold fakes to Goering), he managed to make a painting whilst under guard, which caused him to be pardoned.
  • During World War II, SS Major Bernhard Kruger gathered Jewish prisoners to work on the Operation Bernhard, which aimed at making false Pound notes to ruin the British economy. The results were so good it was only by a clerk noticing two notes had the same serial numbers the Allies discovered the plot.


Indexes:

Feedback: 80 replies

Dec 30th 2018 at 12:30:36 PM

Not bad so far, though you'll want to use the All Caps markup for media sections.

Dec 30th 2018 at 12:58:27 PM

In the Lazy Town episode "Crystal Caper", Robbie creates a fake crystal for Sportacus to use after Stingy takes the real crystal and the whole town went on a mad search for it. Justified, since Pixel offered one wish for those who found it, and Robbie could have used it to banish Sportacus from town.

Dec 30th 2018 at 2:27:12 PM

Video Game

  • Ace Attorney: Drew Misham made and sold forged paintings on the black market and sometimes even forged evidence. Phoenix lost his license when he was tricked into presenting one of Misham's works in court. In actuality, Misham was just the seller. The true forger was his daughter Vera, who copied the paintings while her father sold them to keep them financially solvent. This ended in Drew's murder and Vera's attempted murder when the true culprit behind Zak and Magnifi Gramayre's deaths tried to silence both Mishams with poison.

Dec 30th 2018 at 2:46:37 PM

War: Thank you, I've implimented it.

Dom: Not sure if that's an example, but I'll leave it open the floor.

Rep: Sounds like a good example, I'll add it. Thank you.

Dec 31st 2018 at 6:36:13 PM

Film Live Action

  • In The Counterfeiters, Sally Sorowitsch is one of Europe's foremost experts in counterfeiting money. Unfortunately for him, he's also a Jewish man in Nazi Berlin. In exchange for his life, he agrees to help with a scheme to flood America with counterfeit dollars in order to destroy the US economy and prevent them from joining World War II.

Live Action TV

  • In the Law And Order Criminal Intent episode "The Gift", a Catholic charity falls prey to an expert forger who seeks to discredit its patron saint because he blames the charity for taking advantage of his mentally-ill mother.
  • In Leverage, one of Alec Hardison's many talents is creating forgeries.

Jan 1st 2019 at 1:25:37 AM

  • The Emperors Soul: Wan ShaiLu is a master in the magic of Forgery, which transmutes objects by changing their past through Retconjuration. To manage this, she became an accomplished Polymath and studied under one of the greatest artists of the age — and then she's recruited to Forge a soul... and, against impossible odds, succeeds.

Jan 1st 2019 at 5:48:25 AM

  • Also from Sherlock Holmes: In The Valley Of Fear, McMurdo presents himself as a forger, showing Boss McGinty several coins which "never saw the Philadelphia Mint" and look indistinguishable from real coins, managing to hide his equipment in a single small room even when the police come calling. In fact they were likely real, since McMurdo is actually a Pinkerton Agent infiltrating the Scowrers.
  • Making Money: Moist finds the forger who'd been making his own perfect versions of Ankh-Morpork stamps and recruits him to design paper money.

Jan 1st 2019 at 6:19:31 AM

  • Fate Stay Night: the Servant "Archer" has a special ability in his Projection Magecraft ("Tracing"), in which he can create an almost perfect copy of a legendary weapon (primarily swords), including their abilities, and then use them with similar skill as their original owners. Gilgamesh calls him "Faker" because of this.

Jan 1st 2019 at 12:06:33 PM

Strix and Chanbal: Thank you for all those examples I've added them up.

Intastiel and 4: I'm a tad unsure about them, as their abilities stem from magic. I've added Wan as she sounds like the fantasy equivalent, but for Archer I'm not sure if that's not more a variation of power copying, tell me how are they portrayed in the medium?

Jan 1st 2019 at 1:00:50 PM

Two anime examples:

  • Lupin The Third: In The Castle Of Cagliostro, the Mac Guffin that starts the plot and occasionally is referenced are the "Goat Bills", created in secret inside of the titular castle by the evil branch of the country's royal family with quite the Historical Rap Sheet (being allegedly one of the main reasons the Great Depression happened, among others). The operation has been going for so long that the Bills have achieved a legendary status as being virtually impossible to distinguish from the real deal (unless you are just that good at spotting them, like Lupin is).

  • Black Lagoon: The "Greenback Jane" arc involves the titular counterfeiter, who is allegedly the best in the business, being hunted down through Roanapur by a Carnival Of Killers. Turns out that said carnival was hired by the same branch of The Mafia that hired her to produce counterfeit cash, because as good as she is she's also The Perfectionist and the massive loss in time and money that she was causing them because she was continuously working to create a "perfect" (well, in her eyes) counterfeit bill ended with her project being deemed Awesome But Impractical (infuriatingly so) and the Mafia deciding to cut their losses and just kill her.

Jan 1st 2019 at 1:58:06 PM

Thank you, Macro. At this rate I'll have to change the laconic.

Jan 1st 2019 at 7:53:56 PM

^^^ do you have to limit the "forgery" here as in "creating a fake version of something to deceive people"?

Jan 1st 2019 at 8:49:03 PM

Live-Action Film

  • Without A Trace: Mexican art seller "Ana" sells to wealthy Americans what she claims are ancient Mayan artifacts. In actually, they're modern day creations made by contemporary Mayan artists, traced over their own ancestors' artifacts and artificially aged.

Jan 2nd 2019 at 12:45:00 AM

In Dragons Dogma, Mountebank sets up a shop named The Black Cat, which provides a counterfeiting service providing forgeries of most items for a fee. Normal items and scripts can be perfectly replicated, effectively duplicating them. Magical items such as Wakestones don't work as the original do, however.

Jan 2nd 2019 at 8:40:10 AM

Tucker and Mhazard: Thank you, I'll add them up.

4: Well I suppose not technically, but the idea of the trope is to focus on the archetype of someone whose a skilled forger. I'm not sure if Archer qualifies, as their abilities are both magical and used more for replication. They sound closer to the Ultimate Blacksmith than this trope.

Jan 2nd 2019 at 9:06:59 AM

Live Action Television

  • On Trial And Error, it's revealed that there's someone in East Peck who has a skill for creating forgeries. His name is Forge "Clooney" (yes, Clooney is his nickname, not Forge) and he works at the local ice cream shop. Joshua goes to him to ask about something from Jessie Ray's trial. He's later found frozen to death inside his own freezer.

Jan 2nd 2019 at 9:43:20 AM

  • The Order Of The Stick: Though he's not a forger by trade, The Dragon commissions a master goblin craftsman to produce a forgery of the Big Bad's Soul Jar necklace. Despite not having the original at hand as a reference, he recreates it perfectly down to "every detail, every scratch" and passes it off as the original.

Jan 2nd 2019 at 10:44:32 AM

Film Live Action

  • The Duke of Buckingham, having met The Three Musketeers 1973 while on a secret mission in France, discovers that two large jewels are missing from his collarpiece. These were taken by the guileful Countess de Winter to keep the Duke from spoiling her machinations. The Duke visits a decrepit-looking fellow who happens to have a talent for making copies, and hires him thusly:
    The Duke: Can you make two more exactly like these? [displays the collarpiece]
    Felton: Eh, I'll need two, maybe three weeks...
    The Duke: Two hundred crowns if you have them by tomorrow.
    Felton: Done!

Jan 2nd 2019 at 11:07:33 AM

Thank you B Kelly and One. I'll add them now.

And thank you Intastiel. That entry makes me wonder if I should expand the description to include legitimate craftsman recruited or forced by the villains to make forgeries? What does the floor think?

Jan 2nd 2019 at 11:53:35 AM

I'm a little glerky on the details, and Comics Kingdom won't let me archive dive deep enough to check. Nonetheless, I'm certain this instance applies.

Comic Strips

  • Rex Morgan MD took his young daughter Sarah to meet an art teacher at his warehouse studio. When asked why he lived so shabbily, the man's response was that he'd been under the thumb of criminal art dealers who demanded that he paint forgeries of acclaimed works. Once the shady dealers were nabbed by the police, this artist went into hiding. He works a subsistence job, and tutors vouchsafed pupils on the side.

Jan 2nd 2019 at 12:06:40 PM

  • Live Action TV: Private Schulz had a convicted con artist work for the SS making forged British pound notes.

  • Live Action Film: The Great Escape features Blythe, a heroic version of this trope, as a forger who forges travel passes, identity cards, etc. for the allied POWS.

Jan 2nd 2019 at 1:20:53 PM

Cheers One, well even if its not 100% accurate, I'm sure someone who knows better will update it. This is only the proposal page after all.

Thank you Luke. I'll add both your examples now.

Jan 2nd 2019 at 3:21:00 PM

Thanks, and a nod to Luke for jiggling my head.

Film Animated

  • Count Vladimir from Don Bluth's animated feature Anastasia plans to escort his partner Dmitri and orphan Anya out of Soviet Russia. Vladimir has already forged passports, but they're in czarist blue; the new ones under Stalin are in red. "Everything in red," he laments. Somehow, Vladimir is able to forge new passports in less than an hour aboard a moving train that pass a cursory inspection by Soviet police.

Jan 2nd 2019 at 4:46:33 PM

"4: Well I suppose not technically, but the idea of the trope is to focus on the archetype of someone whose a skilled forger."

So you're indeed focusing on the criminal aspect of forgery, right?

And if it's about a "master forger", a legit artist who's forced to do forgery wouldn't count (unless if he used to be a master forger). Such legit artist beong forced into forgery may worth a separate draft, though.

What's the trope for "forgery" itself? I thought we had one.

Jan 3rd 2019 at 10:18:09 AM

One: Thank you again. Whilst its not given to much focus, that's a pretty impressive example.

4: Well I guess it doesn't have to be criminal, but yeah the majority of examples are going to be. I intended this trope to be what the Ultimate Blacksmith is to The Blacksmith, or the Master Poisoner is to Tampering With The Food And Drink.

What really matters is that their overall skill and ability to make forgeries is showcased, not what the forgeries are made for. Thus I'm willing to accept examples from legit craftsmen and artists forced/hired to make forgeries, just as long as it isn't their actual job (so no examples of people who make money or passports for example). Tropes are flexible after all.

Still that is a good point, maybe another trope all together would be better for those examples.

Honestly I couldn't find a trope about Forgery itself.

Jan 3rd 2019 at 10:37:02 AM

Dunno if this fits but here goes:

  • The Flintstones:
    • One episode had Barney being paid with a wad of Rock-Dollars that was bigger than usual at work and deciding to prank Fred by making him believe that he's a forger with "untraceable" bills. Hilarity Ensues when Fred buys the prank too well and tries to get rid of the "fake money" to prevent Barney from going to jail and some random crook overhears the whole conversation and forces Barney to print some of the "fake money" for him under threat of death.
    • Another episode had Betty pretending to be an old woman so she could work for a crippled old lady that needed a gofer for her grocery purchases. It turned out that the "crippled old lady" was a forger that was testing her newest batch of fake dollars by making Betty buy stuff for her, and the whole reason for the "old lady" disguise was that she had become so wanted by law enforcement that she needed to create a Fall Guy (Betty was eventually caught by the cops and she led them to where the "old lady" was... and sure enough, nothing was found and Betty became the prime suspect of the forgery scheme).

Jan 3rd 2019 at 10:56:26 AM

Live Action TV

  • Hawaii Five O has one case of a retiree learning that his facility is going bankrupt. The man unearths two printing plates for $20 bills that he'd made in his younger days as a counterfeiter. One of his "test" printings is detected by a bank that checks older bills with a scanner. Strangely, the teller informs a news crew about this, which alerts the man's old mob boss that his lackey is alive and well. The man's friends are held hostage while two thugs coerce the man into printing more fake $20's.

Jan 3rd 2019 at 11:30:43 AM

A side character in The Odessa File was a calligrapher in his youth before being commissioned into the SS to work at forging Allied banknotes; after the war, he goes to work forging ration coupons for the black market and then forges identity papers for fugitive nazis.

Jan 3rd 2019 at 2:00:08 PM

Marco: I appreciate you looking for them, but I don't know. The first I think not, as Barney wasn't really forging anything and the audience was always aware he wasn't so its not even a subversion. The second, maybe. I'm just unsure if she's skilled enough to qualify, the main mark of being a Master Forger is that its incredibly difficult to detect their works are fakes.

But if you disagree, I'd love to hear your views.

One: Again, I'm a little unsure if he makes the mark. It sounds like he falls for a rookie error, but I could easily see the argument of him simply being out of practice and unaware of technological advances. Tell me how does the episode actually portray the quality of his forgeries? If their impressive, then he's a qualifier.

Luke: Yeah, they sound like a keeper. Thank you Luke. But are we given this side characters name?

Jan 3rd 2019 at 4:08:08 PM

Well, there's Forgery Plot.

"What really matters is that their overall skill and ability to make forgeries is showcased, not what the forgeries are made for. Thus I'm willing to accept examples from legit craftsmen and artists forced/hired to make forgeries, just as long as it isn't their actual job (so no examples of people who make money or passports for example)."

Ah, I get it. They can fall here then, as long as they're renowned for making good forgeries (even if they are normally legit workers).

Jan 4th 2019 at 11:11:17 AM

^ Exactly, or if they prove they are good at making forgeries.

Um I think that page might have gotten deleted.

Edit: Never mind I found it. Well if it gets voted up, then yeah it needs a link.

Jan 3rd 2019 at 4:38:23 PM

@MGD 107: The Series.Hawaii Five O example mentions "retiree," so thirty, forty, fifty years have passed since his counterfeiting days. Also, such plates were engraved in steel, as softer metals (though much easier to cut and shape) tend to deform rapidly after repeated pressings in a printer. So, this man is skilled enough to etch steel into a passable master plates that were only detectable when the bank used computer-assisted image scanning to screen for counterfeits; computers were still the clunky IBM monstrosities when his plates were made. His skill at counterfeiting is why the Mob retained his services, and why they're so set on getting their mitts on him once more.

Jan 4th 2019 at 11:41:41 AM

One: Yes in that case he definately counts, just let me amend the post a little to make it clearer. Thank you, is the retiree given a name?

Jan 4th 2019 at 1:51:53 PM

@ Draft maker: You may like to note in the description that this can count legitimate artists/workers so long as they're well-known in-universe to be able to make good forgeries.

Jan 4th 2019 at 3:39:31 PM

^Okay, its a little clunky but it should prevent any future misunderstandings. What do you think?

Jan 4th 2019 at 3:47:56 PM

wouldn't "Master Counterfeiter" or "Master Of Forgery" work as a less confusing title? I'll admit the first thing I think of a "Forger" doing is actual crafting like a blacksmith would. You make this distinction, but still...

Jan 4th 2019 at 4:01:54 PM

^I'll be perfectly honest, when writing this trope the idea that the title could be mistaken for that sort of forging was pretty much the last thing to occur to me.

The title was the very second thing to come to my mind after I realised we didn't have a trope for this. But yeah maybe your right, anyone else want to weigh in their opinion on the title?

Jan 4th 2019 at 4:40:40 PM

Well, not sure about the latter about the Big Bad of that episode (the woman who was pretending to be an old lady) was explicitly mentioned to have a rep as one of these. In the episode where Barney makes the prank things go "horribly right" for him because (obviously, because it is real money) Fred checks the bills and sees they are perfectly similar to real money.

Jan 4th 2019 at 8:57:07 PM

  • The Law and Order: Criminal Intent episode "Art" (covering a murder case involving art forgery) has a renowned forger as a supporting character. His work is considered so impeccable that a number of his forgeries are still hanging in museums undetected.

Jan 4th 2019 at 9:21:26 PM

The Odessa File forger's name is Klaus Winzer. Another example from one of Frederick Forsyth's works:

  • In Dayof The Jackal, the titular Jackal acquires a set of false identity cards from a forger, who is not only able to make such papers but also advises the Jackal how to make himself look older (he's disguising himself as an elderly wounded veteran so he can conceal a Scaramanga Special rifle in a set of crutches). The forger makes those papers and provides said advice, but makes the fatal mistake of trying to blackmail the Jackal for more money.

Jan 5th 2019 at 6:27:13 AM

Marco: Well if she had the reputation, then yeah she probably does count.I have to say its nice to have another animation version.

But I'm still unsure about Barney. I might be remembering it wrong, but I thought the audience was aware from the start he was pranking Fred. So whilst Fred (and that crook) believe him to be a master forger, its obvious he's not.

Dr: Thank you, tell me is the guy's name Rudy?

Luke: Thank you Luke, and thank you for this other example.

Jan 5th 2019 at 8:53:45 AM

Add to the Allo Allo examples: Lt. Gruber is also a master, if reluctant, forger of paintings. He creates copies of both "The Fallen Madonna With Big Boobies by Van Clomp" and "The Cracked Vase with the Big Daisies by Van Gogh", which are stolen, confused with the originals, and generally used in the multiple bait and switch thefts throughout the series.

Also Lovejoy has several master forgers on the show, including Lovejoy himself, as the series is based on wacky schemes with antiques; both good and villainous forgers. One particularly ingenious forger had to be tracked down in Italy where he was turning out brand new genuine old Italian paintings.

Jan 5th 2019 at 12:00:02 PM

^ Good point about Gruber, don't know how I missed him, and thanks for the Lovejoy example. I'll add both.

Jan 12th 2019 at 11:56:59 PM

Why does this say its launched but there's no page?

Jan 14th 2019 at 7:03:45 PM

MGD 107 launched it, but that left it so no one else could edit the page, but MDG couldn't edit the page either because of a temporary suspension from editing. I unlaunched the page at MGD's request.

Jan 14th 2019 at 8:34:49 PM

I still think it needs a more concise title. Perhaps a crowner should be made.

Jan 14th 2019 at 9:05:15 PM

See also Effective Knockoff, which the main product of this trope.

Jan 15th 2019 at 6:37:18 AM

Meta Four: Thank you for that.

DRCEQ: Well as I've said I'm not sure its that confusing, but sure if you think its a good idea. How do you make a crowner?

Wise Man: Okay I'll add the line.

Jan 15th 2019 at 7:09:43 AM

  • On White Collar Neal Caffrey is a conman who is also a master forger who can forge paintings, sculptures, banknotes and even rare whiskey. A number of episodes have him and the FBI go up against other master forgers or people dealing in fake artifacts. In one instance Neal and fellow forger Mozzie create a perfect forgery of a painting and then deliberately add minor flaws so the FBI lab can expose it as a fake and thus stop investigating what happened to the original.

Jan 15th 2019 at 7:23:54 AM

Nielas: Thank you but seriously, how do you forge whiskey? I'll add it.

Jan 15th 2019 at 8:20:32 AM

Wow, thanks for the information. Still that's a new one.

Jan 15th 2019 at 10:51:41 AM

Ok, so "Counterfeiter" is a synonym to "Forger", as if that isn't obvious. I just looked up the word and it is fully associated with creating fake copies, and nothing to do with an actual forge.. most of the time.

I admit I'm not used to hearing that word, but I guess the title is ok. I would like to get a second opinion though.

Jan 15th 2019 at 11:22:56 AM

Live-Action Film

  • Orson Welles's documentary F For Fake is about Elmyr de Hory, a forger who spent decades selling fakes of Picasso, Matisse, and others, before the art world finally caught on.

Jan 15th 2019 at 1:29:05 PM

DRCEQ: Of course. I'll be honest, I've never heard the word "Forger" used as anything but a synonym for "Counterfeiter", hence why I gravitated to that as a title. Master Counterfeiter just felt a bit to much of a mouthful.

But I'm glad you raised the issue, and I too would love to hear more opinions on the title. If the consensus is that its not the best title, I have no problems with changing it. I'm happy to add a crower so people can discuss it, its just this being my first proposal I'm not sure how you do so.

James: Thank you, I'll add it up.

And to anyone concerned, following the issues with the first attempted launch, steps have been taken to ensure the next one will actually put the page up. Rest assured this should be properly launched just as soon as any final questions are resolved.

Jan 15th 2019 at 1:33:42 PM

I've never heard forger used for blacksmithing or farriering with a furnace. Even metal smelting I've heard using either the generic smelter, or specifically the metal itself reference. If someone said forger to me then I'd think of, well, of being a forger in the sense of making illegal copies of something (counterfeiter being specific to forging money).

Jan 15th 2019 at 1:35:54 PM

^ It might be a regional thing, but to me, "counterfeit" specifically implies fake money, while "forgery" is more general. In any case, I'd go with "forger" for brevity's sake.

Jan 15th 2019 at 2:01:07 PM

My suggestion of Master Of Forgery could still work. Not like it's that much longer. If MGD 107 sticks with the current name, then I'm ok with that. Already added my hat anyway

Jan 16th 2019 at 3:46:09 AM

Thank you for your providing your opinions on the matter. I haven't added a crower, as I'm still not sure how you do so. Still it appears the matter is mostly resolved.

As such if their are no disagreements, I'll give it another day or so to hear any other views and accept any last contributions before I have the page properly launched.

Jan 16th 2019 at 8:12:58 AM

A foundry that produces molten metal is called a forge, as is that roaring furnace that blacksmiths are seen using. The idea is to make the resilient stuff malleable by casting, rolling or milling. On a smaller scale, by smithing. There is the whole class of felony crime called Forgery, which is defined as producing documents of no legal weight (void) with intent to submit as a substantive instrument. This'd include check forgers, prescription forgers, ID card forgers, credit card forgers ... anyone that makes a bogus item to pass off the genuine article. I'm good with the current title of Master Forger.

Jan 16th 2019 at 8:13:32 AM

An interesting variant shows up with a painting in the Arkady Renko novel Red Square; the painting itself is genuine, but the crate and documentation that contain the painting are forged.

Jan 16th 2019 at 8:23:25 AM

One: Thank you for your input.

Luke: That is interesting an one. But who made the forgeries?

Jan 16th 2019 at 12:09:46 PM

Borya Gubenko AKA "Boris Benz"; it was his way of being able to sell a "lost" Soviet painting (it's a long story, but basically it was it was his way of being able to sell the painting after the fall of the Soviet Union, by faking where he found it).

Jan 16th 2019 at 1:49:32 PM

Luke: Thank you, I'll add it to the literature section.

Jan 17th 2019 at 9:23:22 AM

The idea behind counterfeit whiskey, wine or any food-like substance is that very few people have a sense of taste refined enough to tell apart the different natural and artificial flavours. Also, unless you actually tasted the original, you would not really know how it is supposed to taste. On the White Collar episode, they mixed cheap whiskey to get the correct alcohol content and then started adding food flavouring to it till it tastes similar to what the real thing tastes like.

Jan 17th 2019 at 12:35:24 PM

^ Thank you for explaining it, yeah that makes sense.

Jan 17th 2019 at 1:29:28 PM

Real Life

  • Han van Meegeren was a Dutch painter who, distraught with his failure at following the fashions of then, decided to make and sell fakes of Veermer and other artists from the Dutch Golden Age, which managed to fool even experts. After World War Two, faced with the possibility of being shot for treason and collaborating with the Nazis (he sold fakes at Goering), he managed to make a painting while under guard, which caused him to be pardoned.
  • During World War Two, SS Major Bernhard Krger gathered Jewish prisoners to work on the Operation Bernhard, which aimed at making false Pound notes, which were so good only by a clerk noticing two notes had the same serial numbers the Allies discovered it.

Jan 17th 2019 at 2:23:27 PM

Jujup: Thank you, I'll be honest I hadn't even considered the idea of including real life master forgers. I'll add them up before the launch.

Jan 17th 2019 at 4:40:57 PM

  • Kid Icarus Uprising has Dyntos, the god of the forge, who's powerful enough to take the position of Top God if he felt like it. Pit and Palutena seek his help to defeat Hades, and being something of a Trickster Mentor, Dyntos has already set up a series of trials consisting of replicas of various enemies and bosses Pit faced earlier in game, superior to the real deals.

Jan 17th 2019 at 7:17:53 PM

"There is the whole class of felony crime called Forgery, which is defined as producing documents of no legal weight (void) with intent to submit as a substantive instrument. This'd include check forgers, prescription forgers, ID card forgers, credit card forgers ... anyone that makes a bogus item to pass off the genuine article." .

Which means my example doesn't count, right?

Jan 17th 2019 at 11:50:45 PM

  • The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: One of the radiant Thieves Guild' quests offered by Delvin requires the Dovahkiin to break into any one of the stores throughout the titular province and alter the store's ledger by forging numbers to help keep the Guild's other activities go unnoticed.

Jan 18th 2019 at 4:49:51 AM

Noah: Thank you, but I'm unsure. That kind of sounds more like a general craftsman god, rather than this trope in particular. Of course it depends how its played.

4: Afraid not. But thanks for the contribution.

Angel: Thank you, but just to clarify what's being forged? It sounds like their just altering the books so no one notices the theft?

Jan 18th 2019 at 10:28:48 AM

Sort of. The button prompt always comes up as Forge Numbers, and implies that the player character is forging new entries into the stores ledger (signatures, inventory numbers and so forth) if or when they arent altering existing entries.

Jan 18th 2019 at 5:21:25 PM

Angel: I'm honestly not sure if that counts or not. I mean forging signatures and presumably handwriting is still forgery. But it does require making anything and I'm not sure its an impressive enough display of skill.

Anyone else care to weigh in.

Jan 18th 2019 at 9:09:55 PM

Hmm, the only other thing I could add is that so long as you arent spotted, or commit another crime, the forgery itself is implied to be so good that no one, even the store owner, can tell the difference, and the game marks the job/quest as completed.

Either way though, if its decided that that example doesnt count, thats fair enough.

yesterday

Comic book:

  • Bookhunter: the thief "Kettle Stitch" (real name Susan Lovelace) makes a forgery of a priceless historical Bible, so when she steals the real thing from its display at Oakland Public Library, she leaves the copy behind in its place. Her forgery is good enough, the library staff don't even notice the theft until weeks later—though it's not good enough to fool a trained document analyst from the police. Then the ending twist reveals the book she stole was actually another forgery. Chief Spencer, head of Oakland Library's security, had swiped the real Bible months before and replaced it with a copy of his own creation.

21 hours ago

Meta: Thank you, I'll add it up.

12 hours ago

Live Action TV: Parodied in the episode "Dough" of the Britcom series Bottom; this episode featured Eddie making extremely unconvincing (some notes were triangular) and highly pornographic pound notes, which results in him running afoul of "Skullcrusher", London's real master counterfeiter (whose forged pound notes aren't much better than Eddie's, featuring Danny La Rue instead of the Queen).

11 hours ago

I prefer the title "Master Counterfeiter" over "Master Forger" and "Master of Forgery" because using "counterfeit" is clearer because it can't be mistaken for Ultimate Blacksmith. The criteria for good titles is Clear Concise Witty, In That Order.

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