Saturday, 11 May 2019

Collectors' Corner: Ironwork hoard/deposit

On ebay right now, UK seller: 'Hoard, Ritually Killed / Sacrificed Viking swords Battle Relics c. 800 AD (1124+)'
FOR SALE Viking Battle Relics 8th Century AD Great condition Came from Warriors Grave Iron Various 305 mm Authenticity All items are unconditionally guaranteed to be Authentic as described. For added security, we offer a full money-back guarantee, All my Items have been purchased from collectors and auctions. If you not happy with purchased Item, contact me immediately and your money will be refunded in full.
I am not terribly happy to see that these 'Norsk - Nordic Religion Blades' ("Material: Iron Colour: Dark Brown Type: Votive Warriors Artifact Provenance: Private Collection Culture: Scandinavian / Viking 8th Century AD) 'came from a Warrior's Grave', where, when, how? Metal detecting in and around Barking, Essex? (seller: Roumen Todorov ancientreasure (4605) IG119TH Barking, Essex Großbritannien) Price: GBP 4,600.00 Approximately US $5,989.20 Shipping: GBP 5.99 (approx. US $7.80) Royal Mail International). The rhomboidal cross guard shown added to one sword is not like any Viking sword anyone has ever found in a proper excavation - it is more like those of late fourteenth century swords... so what is the context of this find? In post-PAS Britain, 'Private Collection' is not a provenance. There are 79 people watching this auction.

'Ancientreasure' is selling a mixed bag of items and this seems to be very much 'CaveatEmptorLand'...  first of all there are more so-called 'viking' blades (here and here) , but then, 'Viking' is an adjective he is fond of using, not always with any visible justification (here these annular beads). Then there is this hacksilber hoard I wrote about in another post here.  Another alleged 'hoard find' is a fantasy 'Viking' cross that in addition to not being like any Viking cross I've seen, is a really poor piece of casting. As for the two 'Viking' battle axe pendants (not of viking form), we note he is careful to note that they are 'gold plated'. And the casting of one is crap too.

None of his 29 'Roman artefacts' would look out of place among the offerings of any number of Bulgarian sellers, if you get my meaning. Replete with adjectives of opinion (stunning, RARE, oustanding, EXCELLENT), personally I see little to get enthusiastic about. I am however fascinated by his attribution of an alleged 'Beautiful Ancient Egyptian Pottery Statuette circa 900 BC'. Looks for all the world like an Indus valley fertility figure as sold by very many other British dealers as such (though I think all are modern fakes)... Cute, but do not take the dealer's word for what it is or where it comes from.

And here's a word of advice for the person who forks out GBP 4,600 for the twisted ironwork at the head of this post, get it straight away to a proper conservator. These objects have been out of the ground a number of years and in that time (on or off the market), have been kept in unstable and unsuitable conditions too long without any treatment. They are falling apart, very soon there will be nothing left. But run a mile from the cowboy who wants to put it them in an electrolytic bath, again you'll have nothing left. To keep and display these objects in a collection after conservation, assessment of the state of them visible in the photos (taken on damp grass, that does not help much) indicates that you need to have them in a controlled environment, so a lot of space and monitoring required if you are going to take on yourself the task of curating them.  Or as Indy says:

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