Penalties of the Past

After my wife and I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see the “Samurai” exhibit this past week, my son suggested that standards may have been needed to detect counterfeit silk lace used in samurai armor. This comical interchange prompted some casual research into how our ancestors dealt with the the counterfeiting problem. I found information worth considering today for applying penalties associated with counterfeiting or altering various authentication and provenance tracking schemes in addition to penalties for counterfeiting the goods themselves.

The Statutes at Large of The UK 1803 included penalties which related to the duties of importers and the counterfeiting of marks applied by customs officials. Here is an excerpt from the statutes describing the authentication marking of the time …

Statutes at Large of The UK 1803

Counterfeiting the mark itself or possession of silk lace with a counterfeit mark resulted in a fine of £100 for each offense and the offender was made to stand in the Pillory for two hours …

Statutes at Large of The UK 1803

Ah, those were the days!

Eighteenth-century illustration of perjurer John Waller pilloried and pelted to death in London, 1732

Though bringing back the pillory may not be something to consider these days, perhaps it is worth considering some other form of penalty associated with counterfeiting or altering various authentication and provenance schemes in addition to penalties for counterfeiting the goods themselves.

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One thought on “Penalties of the Past

  1. Owen Peters says:

    Lest we forget…The practice of harvesting silk began in Japan in the 3rd century, when the technique was adapted from their Chinese and Korean neighbors.

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