Monday, 25 November 2019

Its quite Easy to 'Caveat Emptor' on a Truly Responsible Antiquities Market

Somebody called P Buhler has a question about Timeline Auctions antiquities (not the first) they wrote here, 25 November 2019 at 14:55 :
I am new to this Blog, but am very interested in the chain regarding Timeline. I have purchased a few coins from them in the past (which were fine), but am considering bidding on a Medieval sword they are offering now. Candidly I am also new to the Medieval weapons collecting area, although I do have some 17th Century pieces acquired elsewhere some time ago. I would be interested in anyone else's experience with Medieval weapons acquired from Timeline in recent years. From website photos some of the swords look to be in very clean and good preserved condition relative even to some museum examples I have seen. Cause to worry about good fakes?
I answered. There are estimates that up to 95% of the artefacts being offered online these days are either illegally obtained or fake. Nobody has disproven that.
Hmm. Something to think about. The prime leitmotif of THIS blog, the one you are writing to, is that the archaeological resource is damaged by selfish buyers who'll buy unpapered artefacts (portable antiquities that have no documentation of legal origins, no documentation of the transfer of title, no documentation of legal movement between countries). Here the interests of (responsible) collectors and conservationists cross. If the sword was made in 2008 by Slimy Fred the Faker in a garage in Sunderland, it'll have no documentation of these things. If it was illegally dug up in a the underground of the chapel of a ruined Lebanese Crusader castle and smuggled to Britain, it will have no documentation of these things. If the seller has ensured that the items he has in the stockroom are of legal origins and he has title to sell will be happy to share the documents of that with you - no excuses. If the seller offer excuses instead of proof, walk away, it's probably either illegally obtained (and thus you cannot acquire title) or fake.
Interesting that Mr (?) Buhler is "new to the collecting area" but is willing to chance it on a "looks like" basis (plus asking an archaeologist online for advice). Mr Hammond's "ancient artefacts" have  been discussed here before (search). Ask for paperwork before you bid, take no excuses, anything that's passed through any dealer like this with no paperwork may be difficult to sell later.

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