Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Collectors' Corner: UK Dealer Selling Iraqi Cuneiform, Where From?



UK dealer SimonWicks (ace-antiques, ancient- antiques) has some cunies to shift, right under the nose of the British archaeological community that is not going to lift a finger of protest or to help collectors differentiate kosher from dodgy. Snowflakes. Here you are:
EXTREMELY RARE ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN CLAY TABLET EARLY FORM OF WRITING 2000BC  Price: GBP 425.00 (Approximately US $533.65):
EXTREMELY RARE ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN CLAY TABLET, Round SHAPED VERY EARLY FORM OFF (sic) SCRIPT WRITING, VERY ARE (sic) WITH PICTORIAL SCENES, C2000 BC. PRIVATE c1970s CollectionX 9 x 8 CMS in diam. DAMAGE NONE WILL SHIP THIS ITEM WORKD (sic) WIDE THANK YOU [....] EVERYTHING I SELL IS AS THE LISTING AND PICTURES PROVIDED AND 100% ACCURATE.IF THE BUYER CHANGES HIS MIND YOU CAN ONLY RETURN THE GOODS IF THEY DO NOT MATCH THERE DESCRIPTION OR IF THE ITEM/GOODS ARE DAMAGED IN ANY WAY.BUYESRS CAN CONTACT VIA EMAIL ANY QUESTIONS THEY MIGHT HAVE REGUARDING ITEMS BEING SOLD ..THANK YOU..
With literacy skills like that, you can see why this gentleman entered the world of antiquities collecting and dealing. I think we have a number of "questions" about this item.



A passion for forming collections




"The British Character. A passion for forming collections"
by Pont (Graham Laidler) in Punch Magazine (1937).

Monday, 17 June 2019

Egypt's Ousted former President Mohammed Morsi dies in court after collapsing during trial



رحم الله الرئيس الاسبق محمد مرسي العياط الذي توفي عصر اليوم

Mursi, first democratically elected president in Egypt’s modern history, had been in jail since he was toppled by the military in 2013.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

UK Metal detectorist 'had no idea' [UPDATED]


A UK metal detectorist kept a Roman coin in a farmer's field in Berkshire for nearly 30 years before realising it was worth £10,000, on learning which he decided he was more interested in the money than finding out about history (BBC 'Metal detectorist 'had no idea coin was worth £10k' 10th June 2019).
Retired police officer Tom Thomas, from Reading, made the rare discovery in the 1990s and kept the coin in his small collection. The hobbyist only realised it was a one-of-a-kind coin when a fellow detectorist pointed out its rarity at a family barbecue [...] Mr Thomas, who has been metal detecting for more than 30 years [said] [...]"I didn't know what it was as such. I put it with my small collection and thought nothing more of it".
The coin is in fact the only known example of a Carausius denarius coin that features the Roman goddess Salus feeding a snake rising from an altar. And how many other unrecognized and unrecorded Roman finds has Mr Thomas got hidden away in his 'small personal collection'? How many did he throw away not being able to work out what they are, and not responsible enough to take them along to the PAS for identification and recording?  The coin will be auctioned at Hansons Auctioneers on 27 August, and has an estimate of £10,000. The digger reckons he is forced to shift it because (he says):  "The only reason I'm selling it now is because it's so unique and valuable it has to be locked away in a bank vault". Using that line of argument, he'd better sell his car too - because that's presumably worth about the same amount or more and the paranoid ex-cop presumably would therefore regard it as in equal danger of being stolen too. Anyway, the family of that landowner in Berkshire will be delighted, I am sure, to receive their 50:50 share of the proceeds of the sale (unless, that is, Mr Thomas has a copy of the protocol of assignment of full title to the coin in the event of such a sale signed by the original landowner). 


And for all those enthusiastic British coin fondlers fondly imaging that the pirate emperor Cauasius was doing "the first Brexit", let's have a look at the coin Mr Thomas found alongside a contemporary Salus issue of Maximianus - spot the difference in execution. That's what happens when you break away from civilised Europe... Meanwhile some on Twitter are less than forgiving towards the evidence-hoarding artefact hunter than the excited BBC:
W odpowiedzi do 
Can't help but think that Tom Thomas is a shit of the first water; made no attempt to register the coin with until ~2 years ago & thinks the coin should be in a bank vault rather than a museum. The man is basically a walking heritage crime.
UPDATE
I have corrected the denomination of the coin for accuracy (thanks Duncan Finch). Denarii were only rarely issued after Gordian III (AD 238–244) but this, apparently is one (the picture on the front is the clue, apparently - see comment below)

Friday, 14 June 2019

The Same Old Arguments


The same old special pleading arguments from the antiquities trade....
Thanks to ⁦⁩ for publishing my letter on ⁦⁩ Tutankhamen head today. We need a better public information campaign on issues like this to defend legitimate trade while fighting crime

The point is though, if - since 14th November 1970 - there has been an internationally-agreed definition of what constitutes the licit import, export or transfer of ownership of cultural property (1970 Convention Art. 3), why would any careful dealer or collector "not keep" the evidence that those guidelines have been followed? And why would any responsible dealer even think of acquiring an artefact where the seller cannot supply proof that the object is of licit origins? What kind of cowboy business would repeatedly do that just in order to keep going? 

Mr Macquisten suggests this is a case of 'not striking a balance' between 'private property rights and crime prevention'. It is not, it's about the responsibilities of dealers and collectors of portable antiquities.

Monday, 10 June 2019

UK Antiquities Trade Watch: Ungrounded, unpapered Christie's statue fragment, does it really "look like" Tutankhamun?


Ungrounded, unpapered Christie's statue fragment, does it really "look like" Tutankhamun?


Left: Luxor cache, middle, in Karnak, right the newly-surfaced fragment. The lips, the eyes, the proportion of the face, the height of the crown... One came off the market, Jus' saying....



Saturday, 8 June 2019

Magnet Fishing 'illegal' in France, status in UK unclear


HAPPAH says:
Suite à l'essor de la pêche à l'aimant, le Ministère de l'Intérieur par sa Direction Générale de la Sécurité Civile et de la Gestion des Crises expose dans une circulaire nationale ce 5 juin que cette activité de pêche à l'aimant est illégale.
Obviously this is an even more 'blind' manner of removing archaeological evidence from the archaeological record than metal detecting, and nobody has been tempted to even think of creating a Code of Practice for Responsible Magnet Fishing in England and Wales. This rather begs the question whether one type of Collection Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record can be done "responsibly" (sic), if another cannot. Perhaps in fact the real answer is that in fact none of it can.



 
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