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Real or FakeStudies in Authentication$
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Joe Nickell

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813125343

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813125343.001.0001

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(p.176) Chapter 13 Lost Icon Found
Real or Fake

Joe Nickell

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter examines a fire-damaged religious icon that had reportedly been taken from Poland. The man who owned it, George Chesney of Orlando, Florida, wanted to return it to that country through Pope John Paul II. This case was investigated by the author and his colleague John F. Fischer. The examination of the mystery icon took place over two days and consisted of visual inspection, light microscopic study, infrared and ultraviolet examination, and limited microchemical analyses. Photographic techniques were also employed. Results of the investigation showed that the icon had not been taken from a Catholic cathedral or church in Gdynia, Poland, in 1941. It was likely brought there by an orthodox soldier, since it was of Russian manufacture. Its small size, skimpy painting, and other elements suggested no great antiquity, and it probably dated from the latter nineteenth century. In brief, the icon was authentic, but not the story told to its owner.

Keywords:   George Chesney, religious icon, Poland, John F. Fischer, microchemical analyses, nineteenth century, photographic techniques, infrared, ultraviolet

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