Thursday, 1 November 2012

Come, be Impressed by My Papyri


If you follow the feedback to some of dealer Mixantik's papyrus sales, you can find out what happened to some of them. At least one guy appears to have bought several as-yet-unread fragments as a job lot and then gone to a local craft shop or home funishings store and bought some cheap  frames. He then put a fragment in each and then flogged them individually through eBay as "framed manuscript fragments, look good in your den" - in other words cool geegaws that look good on the wall. He made a profit and the buyer thinks he will look terribly eroodyte (a different slant on the "let me show you my etchings" come-on). When the owner tires of pretending to be erudite, or dies, whichever happens first, how many of these tatty yellowing fragments in a cheap 99-cent frame get deposited in a museum, and how many end up in the trash, or car-boot sale?

Is this really the correct way to treat a precious manuscript heritage?  Laws exist to prevent this happening, but private collectors - and buyers generally - have no interest in abiding by them (or even finding out what they are). Thus it is that information is lost, object disappear into private collections, and we are all the poorer for the loss.

Vignette: The ignoble fate of some dugup antiquities - to be sold for a few dozen dollars to thoughtless nerds who want some cool interior decoration accessories (photomontage from ebay pages).  A decent photograph would be just as decorative and atmosphere-forming. Meanwhile, evidence and associations are destroyed. And nobody gives a damn.

1 comment:

kyri said...

paul,as a collector myself,this saddens me,more than you can of these fragments could contain an important piece of information.for all we know the papyrus was in one piece and has been ripped apart to make it easier to will not find a better example of "information lost".

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