Saturday, 29 August 2015

Some Old Collection Material on Sale

Here from the auction aggregator discussed above are some lots offered by TimeLine Auctions:

Lot 283: Post Medieval Toy Cannon and Gun-Related Items Group  Est: 30 - 50 GBP, 18th-19th century AD. A mixed group of detector finds comprising: five lead measures for black powder; three barrels for toy cannons, each with lateral trunnions; a Tudor petronel and a fragment of another; a brass mould half for casting pistol balls and a lead ball of the appropriate size; a musket ram-rod ferrule with pierced lug fixture. 202 grams total, 14-70mm (1/2 - 2 3/4"). Found Canterbury area, Kent, UK, 1980s.
So this is what happens to old collections, they are split up and sold generically, all the information about what was found where and how and in what associations has gone. These are just 'cool' collectable gee-gaws. Here are some more finds, perhaps (who knows?) from the same [dead man's?]  personal collection:
Lot 285 - Bronze Age to Post Medieval Buckle and Other Artefacts Group  Est 40 GBP - 60 GBP, 9th century BC-20th century AD. A mixed group of detector finds including: a Bronze Age miniature socketed axehead; single- and double-loop belt-buckles; shoe buckles; continental jetons; two lead pencils; a barrel tap; a Tudor purse frame; a whistle; horse harness mounts and fittings; military and other buttons; a miniature bell; various lapel badges; finger rings; stamped escutcheons; a crucifix pendant; a pencil in its metal case advertising Crawfords biscuits; medieval and later spurs. 1.4 kg total ("). Found Canterbury area, Kent, UK, 1980s.
These items come from a different county, note the collection comes from "Hampshire", the objects could have been obtained from rallies all over the country - no documentation is offered:

Lot 91 Medieval Mixed Detector Finds Group Est: 60 - 80 GB, 12th century AD and later. A quantity of mainly bronze items including a weight fragment with heraldic motif, buckles, mounts, a gilded dagger chape, a barrel tap and key, a rondel dagger pommel, annular brooches and other items. 480 grams total, 10-87mm (1/4 - 3 1/2"). From an old Hampshire collection.
 And some more decontextualised 'Hampshire collection' bits and bobs:

Lot 97: Saxon and Viking Detector Finds Group   Estimate: 80 GBP - 100 GBP, 6th-10th century AD. A mixed group comprising: a blue glass spherical bead; a wrist-clasp with slot; a triangular hooked tag; four strap ends; a lead trial-piece with interlaced cross and rosettes; a plano-convex lead spindlewhorl; two discoid and one rectangular lead weights; a cruciform brooch fragment; a small-long brooch fragment; a ceramic bead; two flat-section plaques with silver inlay. 194 grams total, 5-40mm (1/4 - 1 1/2"). From an old Hampshire collection.
 And this sorry lot of decontextualised bits comes from goodness-knows-where:

Lot 90: Roman to Post Medieval Artefact Group  Est: 20 - 30 GBP, 1st-19th century AD. A quantity of detector finds including La Tène brooch, a Romano-British bronze toggle, three Roman bow-brooch fragments, a silver ring brooch, an Anglo-Norman dagger chape, lead tokens, a thimble, a trefoil spoon handle, dress pins, a lead print block, a group of silver love tokens, a sword hanger and other items. 414 grams total, 10-90mm

These artefacts sold by weight, like potatoes.  

 British archaeologists seem to have no problems with this sort of thing, they rarely even mention it on social media. Yet there are a number of issues that this sort of thing raises, and as more and more people who took up metal detecting in the 1970s and 1980 die off, and their loose hauls of artefacts come onto the market, the scale of the unrecorded depletion of the archaeological record will become more and more visible. At what stage will British archaeologists begin to show some curiosity about the issue?And when will they stop ignoring it for the sake of an imagined 'partnership' with those that accumulate, fail to curate and then discard such items taken from the archaeological record?

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