Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Taunton "Northwest Frontier" Wreath

The controversial artefact

When I discussed in an earlier blog post the Mail story of the wreath which  a Somerset pensioner claims he was 'left by his grandfather who'd been travelling in the Northwest Frontier area' I was more interested in the provenance and the odd photo of the cardboard box than the object itself. I was prompted to look again the next day:
Dorothy King ‏@DorothyKing 10 godz.10 godzin temu
Looks modern to me ...
Retweet Quellenforschung du jour: The Daily Mail on a Hellenistic Wreath
Now I look with the benefit of David Meadows' comments I think he has made the case that there is a good chance this object is a modern pastiche and should be being sold as such in the absence of any firm supporting evidence that it is not.

By the way there seems to be a lack of clarity about what the original article claimed might have been the origin of the piece - a story now looking even more to be in tatters:
The current owner's grandfather was a great collector who was fascinated by archaeology and the ancient world. Although his family do not know how he acquired it, it is likely he bought it sometime in the 1940s when he travelled extensively. The man said: 'I knew my grandfather travelled extensively in the 1940s and 50s and he spent time in the north west frontier area, where Alexander the Great was, so it's possible he got it while he was there.
Most commentators took this to mean the region 'Macedonia' on the northwest side of modern Greece. Is this in fact what Grandson Anonymous was implying? The Northwest Frontier is also the name of a former province, part of the Pashtun region of British India and now part of Pakistan  (see here too). Grandson Anonymous could have been fantasising on the basis of Kipling's novella 'The man Who Would be King' (or more likely the 1975 John Huston film) in which something vaguely like this wreath (a crown) appears handed down from "Iskander" (Alexander).

The wreath could be a piece of modern costume jewellery, or have been made to deceive collectors (and over-enthusiastic Mail-reading auctioneers). What else is Duke's selling from this collection similarly authenticated by appraiser Guy Schwinge?

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