Thursday, 22 January 2015

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: "If Everything you Find is worth £49.99, Walk off with the lot"

50 quid here,
50 quid there,
it all adds up.
Over on a metal detecting forum near you, we learn that at least one farmer has been listening to Heritage Action's farmer Brown (100% to Landowner on permission contract?. Member "colin178" is complaining (Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:07 pm)
So I got the contract back today for my first permission. I was presuming the landowner would put 50/50 split for the value of any finds above a certain amount. But he has put 100% to the landowner for the value of any finds above the total of £50.
And why not? The UK artefact hunter, if he were selling treasure to the state so it can go into a public collection would expect full market value, so why is he disturbed by the parallel requirement to pay the landowner for any items he takes from the landowner for his own collection (and thus adding to its value)? But it seems the judgement of tekkies in the UK is clouded by their feeling of entitlement and that the world owes THEM something. There is also the notion which we have met before that a hobby is in some way "work" for which a hobbyist should be paid ("Silverace" Wed Jan 21, 2015 6:01 pm ):
"All the hard work, time and expense that detectorists endure will just be to benefit the greed of the landowner!!!.......I think not!!!!! [emoticon] [...] I am amazed by his arrogance.

Member Allectus is forthright (Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:13 pm):
"I'd tell him where to get off!! [emoticon, emoticon]".
"Starbuck" (Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:25 pm ) confirms precisely what the "Farmer Brown" posts are saying:
I can see your frustration as you'd think getting a 50/50 split is the norm. When presenting contracts I've usually prefilled the split terms already at 50/50
and hopes the landowner does not see the sleight of hand. "Greggowrex" agrees with him (Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:42 pm): 
YOU should of [sic] wrote [sic] the contract out and got him to sign it . . . abit late for that now tho [sic].
"Littleboot" seems not to think signing a contract about disposition of finds means very much to actual metal detecting practice (Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:52 pm):
Are you saying that Colin is somehow now duty...nay contractually... bound to detect the greedy so and so's land on this basis? [emoticon]

What "split terms" are we talking about? The landowner owns the property in his soil. A 'Search and Take' agreement has as its name implies two components. the landowner gives the artefact hunter permission to enter his land (under the conditions set out in the agreement) to search for history, to research the history of the region by locating and recording historical artefacts. Some landowners charge searchers for the privilege, but most artefact hunters expect to do it for free and whenever they want (and even to bring others with them). A second component is the means by which an artefact hunter obtains (and confirms) legal ownership of the items found. This is an entirely different matter. If they want to obtain ownership of something which belongs to the landowner, why do metal detectoriusts not want to pay for them? Why do they expect to just walk off with whatever they fancy free of charge after having been given the privilege of using the land to look for them? If the detectorist does not want to add the item to his collection at the price determined, he can just leave it with the landowner whose property it is.

One of the problems is that tekkies are afraid that if Colin finds a Treasure, the ex gratia ransom might not be split with the finder. "Littleboot" is blunt: "Take away the chance of a life-changing find and detecting loses a big part of its allure for the vast majority." I am glad she said it and not me. Nobody contradicted her.*

There is another three pages in this thread so far, and a variety of opinions expressed, such as the bloke who calls Colin's not writing the contract himself in terms more favourable to him and disadvantageous to the landowner an "oversight". Then the guy who reckons the landowner is an "arrogant pig head".
"JamieB" sees no irony in saying (Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:23 pm) "I hate dealing with people who are unfair".

In general there seems to be an opinion that written agreements may place the artefact collector in an unfavourable position. Like the guy who says "why some folk/detectorists usually newbies go running around with contracts just beggars belief [...] I have never heard of any landowner mentioning contracts in the first instance. By contrast, I have heard and read about many 'newbies' discussing contracts over the years". So old hands see the benefits of not having anything in writing about disposition of the collectable and saleable items found. So where does that place all those items offered on eBay?

Others seem aware that there is a public out there to whom they are answerable: "only showing them [landowners] the finds that you know that they will not be interested in is counter-productive [...] Is this really the type of response that we should be putting on a public forum...???" Indeed, why show the public what sort of people are digging up the archaeological record to collect?

"Beachedbuddy" suggests (Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:28 am)
just make sure every thing you find is worth £49.99

* Just for accuracy's sake, what "Stratman" (Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:11 pm) and "Ten pence!" (Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:35 pm) suggest about how Treasure ransoms are apportioned is not true. A written agreement usually overrides an arbitrary decision as part of the Treasure process. "Colin178" should clarify this with the landowner unless he is prepared to decline the financial reward (few detectorists do when it is over fifty quid). 

1 comment:

Brian Curtiss said...

I find this interesting on a couple of levels. For one, this is somehow the doing of the "newbies," not following the old "just grab it and screw the landowner," approach of the old guard. I also am intrigued that landowners are starting to say - yeah I'll pay you for your time, but since it's my land, I get the primary benefit of anything you find that's really valuable. Fascinating. Is it a harbinger of a sigficant change to the relationship between land owner and metal detectorists?

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