Copies of precious objects have been produced for thousands of years. The commodification of culture and the treatment of art and antiquities as products inflates the value of originals and encourages fakery.
Fakes can teach us many things, not least the shortcomings of experts. But copies are not always intended to deceive. Sometimes they are created as a record of a fragile object, and sometimes they allow an ordinary person to possess something that would normally be out of reach.
The mistakes of the past are the lessons of the future, and that makes it worth retaining casts, copies and fakes in collections.
Featured objects include a cast of the head of the Dundee murderer David Balfour, fake medieval pilgrim badges from Shadwell Docks, a dubious shabti from Egypt, Beggars’ badges issued by the Town Council of Dundee and a watercolour of the Mercat cross by David Small.