Thursday, 30 October 2014

Antiquitist Special Pleading

Sam Hardy (‘Virtually none of them have a provenance that says where they were dug up or when’) referring back to one of my posts from yesterday makes a cogent point worth stressing and discussing:
antiquities collectors and dealers cannot deliberately obscure the origins of almost all of their antiquities, then complain that it is very difficult for them to know if the antiquities on the market are legal, then complain that they are unfairly disadvantaged by regulations that are designed to ensure that the antiquities on the market are legal.
They create their own disadvantage by consistently filling their stockrooms with material for which they have failed to verify a proper provenance and collecting history, in order to establish that the material they trade in is of wholly licit provenance. If responsible dealers only handled material for which they can establish licit origins, and then demonstrate to discerning customers, they would not be faced with the problem of offloading potentially dodgy stuff to buyers when they cannot. Instead they attempt to foster the myth that this is in some mysterious way always impossible (though, as we can all see, some dealers do manage it - and they cannot all be making it up). It is time to clean up the antiquities market and its dodgy arguments.

Vignette: Business is business.

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