Saturday, 11 May 2019

Collectors' Corner: British-based seller flogs off Detectorist-found Hoard

British heritage professionals, Ebay seller 'rancient' (ancientreasure (4605 ) from Barking, Essex (Roumen Todorov IG119TH Barking) is flogging off a bit of somebody's archaeological heritage right under your noses: 'Very Rare Viking Lot Hack-Silver Currency and Bracelets circa 800 AD' Price:GBP 4,899.00 Approximately US $6,378.50 (shipping: GBP 5.99 Royal Mail International Signed Ships to: Worldwide) The item specifics are:
“Original pictures, good ancient condition.” Colour: Silver, Type: Ancient Bracelets and Hacksilver - Money, Material: Silver Culture: Anglo - Saxon - Viking - Scandinavia  
Provenance? Not stated. The description:
FOR SALE Viking - Scandinavian Bracelets and Hacksilver 8th-10th Century AD Hack-silver, is fragments of cut and bent silver items treated as bullion, either for ease of carrying before melting down for re-use, or simply used as currency by weight. It was common among the Norsemen or Vikings, as a result of both their raiding and trade. Beautiful relics in great condition Metal detector found, all together Silver 127.3 g Authenticity All items are unconditionally guaranteed to be Authentic as described. For added security we offer a full money-back guarantee, All my Items been purchased from collectors and auctions. If you not happy from purchased Item, contact me immediately and your money will be refunded in full.
Found as a single deposit 'with a metal detector (somewhere)' is not a provenance. It is not a provenance for the purposes of advancing our knowledge of the past, for advancing our knowledge of the past of the place (region) where it was found, neither is it one that assuages any doubts a potential buyer might have that the item entered the market legitimately (or legally). On the contrary, if it did, this would be an additional selling point. The fact that nothing - whatsoever, note - is written on this is highly suspicious. The seller should say upfront any details about the 'collector' (or auction) where this was acquired. Yet there is nothing.

Whose hands have these objects passed through? Dug up in unclear circumstances, passing onto the market by unclear mechanisms, now being sold by a bloke with a foreign  name living in suburban Essex. Where did he get it from?

In the country where this is sold, this group of objects falls, entirely clearly, under the Treasure Act. It is therefore odd that a seller a short train journey away from the British Museum does not feel the need to unequivocally state that the object was not found in the UK when selling it right under their noses. In the description the word 'Scandinavia' is used, if this item had been  found in any Scandinavian country with a metal detector, the finder is legally obliged to report it and surrender it, as is the case in most countries of Europe - so perhaps the dealer can tell us HOW this group of items arrived on the UK antiquities market. Can he show it was legally exported (art. 3 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention)?  Has the PAS or local FLO been in contact with him about the documentation? Whose responsibility is it, anyway, to report any such question-raising sales to an investigating authority? It seems to me that there are several thousand apparently unconcerned 'professional' archaeologists on a little green island off the shores of Europe that all say to themselves, "well, it's not my responsibility".

And why would anyone buy such a thing? What would you do with such items in your portable antiquities 'collection'? Is it just a trophy ("I've got something nobody else has [because I've 'captured' it]"? Is it something a collector imagines he can 'seriously study' and the intrinsic 'information' will give him some personal 'message from the past' or special personal insight into the past? What is the intended function of this pile of ancient scrap silver on the UK market?

Are British heritage 'professionals' actually able to do anything about the UK portable antiquities market? For two decades they've been saying they'll 'clean it up ' (Palmer Report onwards), yet time after time, we see that nothing has changed since the days of Lord Elgin the marble-purveyor. 
And what happened to this other hacksilber hoard in the British market last year ('Viking Hacksilber Sold by Anonymous Dead Dad Heirs in Mayfair Raises Many Questions')? 

By the way: Mr Todorov started selling this apparent hoard right under everybody's noses several weeks ago, but I was busy with several archaeological editing projects and had no time to spare to write about it then - though I did alert the local organ of the PAS to it - my mail did not even get an acknowledgement of receipt.

No comments:

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