The problem is not nearly as bad with pre-Victorian figures. The fakes are so easily recognizable. But auction houses and inexperienced dealers still get tripped up by reproduction figures that were made earlier in the 20th century in imitation of early 19thC wares. In particular, the smaller version of the Sherratt bull baiting, The New Marriage Act, and the Tythe Pig. So three cheers for Mellors & Kirk for cataloging the late versions of the bull baiting and marriage act correctly for their upcoming auction. Grander auction houses could learn from Mellors!
Coming up at Mellors in the UK on Sept 23, these are both correctly cataloged as early 20th century. There are a million ways of knowing these figures are wrong, but if you want just one quick tip, look at the font used for script. It lacks serifs--those little pointy things at the end of letters. Early figures almost always use serifs when uppercase script is used.
And thank you to eBay seller 'madelena' for correctly describing this Tithe Pig group as Staffordshire, made by Kent in the early to mid 20th century.