Friday, 12 September 2014

Collecting Histories of Antiquities "are Illegal"

Canadian collector John Hooker pontificates about museums. You know those places archaeologists never, ever go for their research. That is, according to collector John Hooker why they are "people who have little to no knowledge of the difficulties museums face".  Yes, Mr Hooker is an expert on that too.  Museums, he says, deserve our pity when some of their recent acquisitions are examined more closely:
museum collections of ancient art [are] being threatened with repatriation for objects lacking much in the way of past collecting histories,
Well, no that's not the problem and John Hooker knows very well that it's not. We are back to the same adolescent arguments as we saw Fitz-Gibbon operating. Why can we not have some grown-up discussions on this issue with collectors?

 Lesser items are rarely purchased at all by museums, these objects rarely have a collecting history that can be passed on to the new owner because of privacy laws [...] ivory-tower academics who have no museum or even business experience are quick to criticize anyone who does not supply a collecting history even though their recommendations knowingly flaunt the law
The suggestion that collecting histories are actually illegal is utter nonsense. Taking that argument further, it would be "illegal" for an potential employer to ask for references from a previous employer - unless it's done anonymously. Mr Hooker all-too willingly gives the names of all sorts of people he's corresponded with and worked with. He will no doubt explain the difference.

UPDATE 15th September 2014:

Whenever I comment on John Hooker's blog, metal detectorists immediately leap to his succour with their habitual ad hominem arguments. I am sure he is very grateful for the attention with which they follow his arguments. The rest of us can only stare and wonder how these people manage to get on the right bus to work without incident.  Mr Hooker tells us that he "checked his facts":
a local coin dealer told me that he is bound by law not to reveal the identity of a seller to another customer, and that he knows of no place where such privacy laws do not exist
What? A North American coin dealer told him something and the wannabe homegrown academic counts that as "checking facts"? (Let me guess the dealer's name, it's probably Mr Kokotailo, Moneta-L moderator, why does the inveterate name-dropper not cite a source here if it is the source?) Actually, Hooker's dealer friend is wrong. There are about fifty countries in the world with various forms of data protection legislation, mostly of a similar vintage to the Canadian provinces (1990s), there are guidelines, like the EU's Directive, but they are not law. We see here another example of the phenomenon that people living in North America seem to think, in whatever area of life, if something is true for their country, it means it's true of the whole wide world. There are then some 130 countries and a huge extent of collecting history ("going back to Plutarch don't ya know?") not covered by these laws. In most countries, [I've not checked out Canada's - no doubt Mr Hooker will be giving us a breakdown and indicate how used car salesmen and CV writers get round it], the definitions are broad and there are exceptions for entering into contracts, scientific purposes and also preventing being involved in, or a victim of, criminal activity (but see here for one antiques-related case where perceptions of the laws do not prevent it).

I made the point that certain pieces of information (job references for example) are meaningless when they cannot be attributed to an identifiable source, and the use of the names of referees is not forbidden by law (note the tekkie retard response: "in democratic countries job references are always a condition of employmentt, unlike one suspects, those in the former Warsaw Pact [countries] where [...]"). It is the same with property rights to a piece of land or building (among the andropophagi in the former Warsaw Pact countries too), and it is the same (as Kyri pointed out in a comment) with second hand cars. Hooker is having none of that:  
cars are a different category of merchandise, coins and antiques fall under second hand goods. There are very good reasons for having such categories and they are not interchangeable.[...] Cars are a less personal class of object and present different problems like human safety and potential property damage.
Yeah, right second hand cars are not second hand goods. This is yet another of his made-up distinctions that Hooker no doubt will not explain. He goes on to presume:
"I think people who flaunt privacy laws are the same sort of people who don't understand privacy. As they lack empathy, they do not care about and perhaps cannot even envisage situations where people do not wish to have things associated with themselves
Note the straw man argument, Mr Hooker has failed to show that anyone actually is "flaunting privacy laws" by suggesting that there should be more transparency in a market. I guess the answer to the collector's dilemma is not to buy something, even clandestinely, that they'd "not wish to have associated with themselves" when they want to pass it on to a new owner.

In the same way, if the laws of a country do not allow somebody to conduct business as a dugup dealer responsibly, I guess the dealer has three choices, carry on dealing but knowingly doing so irresponsibly, hold off from dealing while campaigning for a law change to exempt responsible antiquity dealing, or give up the notion of being a dealer in such items and choose another commodity to trade in. Which would a decent bloke like yourself choose?

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.