Sunday, 5 January 2020

Portable Antiquities from Area of Medieval Manor House on Sale in York

EBay seller yorkantiquities (2529) [Paul Hardcastle, Acomb, York UK] has quite a lot of stuff on sale this month. Among them is what is described as 'Stunning VR Post Medieval manor house area finds. A must read description. L103y' well, the picture shows nothing I'd describe as "stunning", but usage in other online descriptions of portable antiquities on offer suggests that this is dealer-talk for 'give me a break, buy this crap'. Anyway, the description says:
Stunning ultra rare collection of Post Medieval manor house area bronze household attachments finds, found near Catterton Yorkshire England near site of Manor house that was raised [sic!] to the ground by Oliver Cromwell in the Civil war, they have been sympathetically professionally cleaned to a high standard, absolutely stunning showcase lot most in intact condition and useable as photos. L103y Provenance: From old Private Collection
Well "of course" and not from metal detecting (all the items are of metal) on a known archaeological site in Catterton. Manor houses in Catterton? How many of them were there apart from this one - Catterton Hall moated site and adjacent building platform (under pasture)? Because this one is a protected site, so what's the actual, precise, provenance of the ones on sale here? This auction has been up for a while now, so no doubt the County Archaeologist has already been in touch with the seller to check. No?

Anyway, York Antiquities describes itself as:
Established 1965, Premium Auctioneers of Antiquities, From personal Collections and singular items from all over the Ancient World but specializing in British find from Millennia ago, Prehistoric, Bronze age, Iron age, Roman, Saxon, Viking, to Post Medieval. PROVENANCE: Please Note we do not sell fakes or copies please look at our feedback, a large proportion of our ancient artefacts are from my late Fathers collection that he either found by himself or he purchased from all over the world both up to the early 1970s Sadly having to sell, and others we have acquired from old private collections and are checked by experts if we are in any doubt which is very rare as we have legitimate sources.
There is more information on the dead dad in the description of one of the more dubious 'artefacts':
[...] a truly magnificent artefact found near the River Ure near Ripon Yorkshire England by my late father many years ago and only just got to this part of his vast collection L68r Nb. Also for your notes please read below A brief History of my Business. A massive bulk of my Artefacts for sale are from my late Fathers collection found by him all over the world first demobed from Army Service in the mid 1940s he took up Archaeology as history was his passion, where he finished service in Egypt he started work with the Egyptian antiquities, then from learning his trade so to speak and in between normal life he started his tours taking him everywhere but his passion was Britain where he spent decades searching and digging on private digs, and with him been from the North of England and a young family he concentrated where he used to get digs on outskirts of main sites, he always said the best stuff was not under your nose, like in York where he lived he knew all the builders so when they did City Centre work my Dad was there ha ha, same with other such places. I started unfortunately having to sell my Dads massive collection more than 20 years ago but one conciliation is that it has given me a genourous business.
Something here does not tally, if the business was "established" in 1965, where did it operate? And if it "started" by selling the Dead Dad Collection 20 years ago, what was it selling before then? Here are some details of British forces in Egypt in the mid-forties ...

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