Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Focus on UK Metal Detecting:" Awkward thing, ignorance

Seen on eBay (thanks anonymous detectorist for heads-up). This is what happens when detectorists  do  not leave any documentation of their collections:
Antiques- Antiquities- British Coins - Coins -British -Hammered (Pre-c.1662) - Celtic Coins (c.100BC-c.100AD) 
Large Celtic Horse Detector Find? 
We Are Currently Clearing Out My Grandfathers House, He Was A Keen Metal Detectorist.. He Has A Vast Collection Of Finds. My Mother Is Sure This Horse Was Found By Him Many Years Ago. We Cannot Guarantee This So Selling This Horse As An Unknown Item..It Is Beautifully Decorated, Looks Like Gold So Perhaps It Has Been gilted In Places... We Did Show It To A Local Detectorist. His Opinion Is That It Did Come Out Of The Ground As The Patina Is To Be Expected.. He Did Make Us An Offer But We Declined, We Will Gamble On Ebay.. If You Require Any More Photos Please Just Ask Me.. It's 200mm x 150mm (Oksanab2005, Bo[u]rnemouth, Dorset).
Oksana (probably a friend of Candy) should have sold it to the detectorist. It's not celtic, it's a reproduction Greek figure in vaguely archaic style. Probably originally sold as a home decoration (IKEA had something vaguely like it three or so years ago as I recall), though decorative and rather sweet, worth only a fraction of the asking price.  Oh, and the 'patina' is obviously chemical, so the "local metal detectorist" needs to get glasses, or stick to talking about what he actually knows about - which I'd say at a guess is probably not a lot. Note the way however "showing it to the local detectorist" replaces the notion of taking it to the museum, or to the PAS, it seems the beep-box boys are being seen by the British public as the real experts.  Serves the archies right.

Apart from the fact that this sale seems to mark a personal tragedy (note the present tense in the second sentence), this is a very good illustration of a very important issue, what happens to all those hundreds of thousands of dugup finds being temporarily kept in ephemeral and poorly-documented personal collections when the artefact hunter no longer is able to look after them? How are the heirs going to know what is what?

1 comment:

heritageaction said...

"what happens to all those hundreds of thousands of dugup finds...."

Millions actually. Our counter recently ticked past 11.5 million. It's sobering to think that most of those already are or soon will be the property of someone's deceased grandfather and that nothing else will ever be known about where they came from.

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