Tuesday, 19 February 2013

"Coldfeet" Back in the Field

 It seems that UK metal detectorist Dave Hutchings (Coldfeet) from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, convicted in 2009 of artefact fraud and sentenced for six month is now out of prison, and back in the field. He has started a new detecting club ("Digging Up the PASt" (DUTP), which organizes weekend "Weekenders" commercial rallies and "charity rallies"). He is even organizing a charity rally (ostensibly to raise money for some kid with cancer because NHS-Cameroncare will not treat him).
Hutchings has also used the names David Chester and Roy Chester and the internet name "Coldfeet". He was a founder member of the metal detector club, the "Coventry Moles", and registered more than eighty finds with the unofficial website for British detector enthusiasts', UK Detector Finds Database, UKDFD. Rod Blunt, a verifier for the UKDFD, told "The Times", "He is a strange character. There was a general view that the find-spots he recorded were not reliable. He seemed to find items where you would not normally expect to see them."
Yet they still allowed this information to enter their "database". More on this in "Coin Collecting news":
David Hutchings [...] was renowned for finding rare items [...] He used legitimate digs to “discover” fake items before passing them off as genuine antiquities. Some buyers were told that the items had been verified at the British Museum.
It is worth noting that he was able to foist off on three separate dealers (not named, but see here) a number of fake coins, conning them into believing he'd found them. Presumably the finds release forms signed by the landowner were also faked. The dealers who were taken in were:
- "an Essex dealer" (bought seven coins from Coldfeet, he later alerted police)
-  "a Birmingham based dealer" (one coin he claimed "was part of a horde (sic) that had been declared to the British Museum" - the documentation of that offered was presumably also faked).
- "a private dealer in Aylesbury" (one coin he claimed "was part of a horde (sic) that had been declared to the British Museum" - the documentation of that offered was presumably also faked, plus five others).
The Deputy Head of the Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum informed the editor, "Mr Hutchings/Chester has offered finds for recording with the PAS" [Portable Antiquity Scheme] "in the past, and did show one of the fake finds to a FLO" [Finds Liaison Officer]; "but did not offer it for recording (though he did record it/another on UKDFD). The FLO was convinced that the find was 'not right' and subsequently made a statement to the police."
Subsequent to what precisely?  At what point did the PAS go to the police about one of their "partners"? Note however that while a fake was not entered onto the PAS database, there is a clear mention here of "finds offered for recording" - the phrase PAS uses to refer to what is actually entered on the PAS database. So in the name of transparency, what finds were offered, recorded on, and later removed from the PAS database - and on what grounds?

I have a personal interest in this case, Mr Chester (as he then was) caused me a lot of trouble with the metal detectorists who believed that the items he was finding were genuine when it was clear to me that a coin which was at the centre of a controversy was a fake (here I should mention that in this I was in agreement - and indeed amiable correspondence - with Canadian coiney John Hooker, possibly the first and last time):  "Metal Detectorist Malarky: Guilty M’lord" - Tuesday, 17 March 2009.

See also Heritage Journal: "NEWS: Metal detectorist jailed for six months" and "UK detectorist: "pleased he has been jailed — we don’t need people like him damaging the reputation of detectoring

Vignette: cold feet

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