Here is my response to a nice email asking me how to know the black soldier cdv is a fraud. Any other suggestions are welcome and I will post them.
"A few things should send up the "red flags" on the black image. First the starting price of $1.00 with no reserve. Not to say that it hasn't been done before on legitimate cdv's but the subject matter is important so that should start you thinking. Second, the extreme lack of legit bids. If this was real, the image community (a.k.a. the serious collectors) would have the price through the roof in a short period of time. They would, trust me. Look at the civil war and cdv section carefully. Only a few get past them and it is a rare chance something of this magnitude would get by them without a good pounding of money. The serious collectors have the money and experience and usually have dealers looking for images for them so the odds of this getting by at $177 if it was real are like a million to one! Third, the image itself. Wrong color (way to brown), you can see it is a copy of a tintype, the mount is to new in comparison to the images age (it is tough to emulate legitimate wear and tear on a paper image. They usually overdo it. In this case they didn't bother except to bump the edges a bit). Also, look at the size of the soldier. It is out of proportion compared to other soldier cdv's of the time. It appears larger than it should be. And finally, experience will set off alarms in your head when all these factors are taken into consideration. I wish learning this was easy, but sadly the evil sellers of this garbage know that their buyers don't have a clue and take advantage of this fact. That is why they hide the bidders in their auctions to keep them from being warned. A suggestion would be if it is a "private auction" avoid it! Thanks for your email.