From time-to-time, we get asked by our clients how authentic these carvings are and if there are such a thing as a fake carving (ie. from China).
To address these concerns, for the most part the answer is NO. Inuit carvings are all unique hand crafted pieces made by the Inuit. It is such a niche industry - and a small one at that, that it is not worth the time nor efforts for countries of mass production (like China) to bother with. Watches, phones, electronics, brand name hand bags of course is another story.
It is important that you purchase your Inuit art from an Inuit Art Foundation licensed art gallery. You will know that they are licensed when you see that they carry an Igloo Tag with their gallery number at the corner.
At Inuitsculptures.com our Inuit Art Foundation license number is 15. You can find this number on the bottom right corner of the Igloo Tag.
It is very important that your carving has this certificate. This tag eliminates all of the guessing work as to weather the artwork is authentic or not.
The number at the corner classifies the gallery.
With this in mind, there are still some sculptures that resemble Inuit carvings that ARE mass produced which are tailored more for the "gift shop market".
These carvings include:
Gift Shop "Star Carved" Polar Miniature Polar Bears
found in many Canadian Parks Wildlife Gift shops.
Dimu pieces were sold in the 1960's & 70's at a much more affordable price point compared to original handcrafted pieces by the Inuit. Its core audience were mainly tourists visiting gift shops. Each piece is signed with "Dimu" so it is easy to notice.
DIMU is actually the signature of a German-Canadian artist named DIETER MUCKENHEIM. The works are somewhat mysterious and quite sparse, however they were his own original design. They are non-inuit sculpture. His pieces are usually dated to the in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.
Abbott Canada are hand made carvings made in Canada. These carvings are not handmade. They are mass produced. They are not classified as Inuit art, thus are worth substantially less. The word "Abbott Canada" will be marked on the carving.
This would be classified as gift ware that you would find in a boutique.
"Wolf Original carvings"
These are carving made out of soapstone. They are not carved by Inuit artists. Usually they are marked on the bottom as "wolf original".