Monday 22 June 2009

Used blue car - nothing to hide

Today I replaced my trusty ancient automobile with a newer used one. I know nothing about cars, do not trust used car salesmen an inch, so paid especial attention to the paperwork and asked lots of questions about where that car had actually been since it came out of the factory eight months ago. I doubt whether I would have bought anything on the sole basis of an advert like this:
Used blue saloon car
European made blue saloon car
Circa 1900 – 2009 AD
Contains five
Four wheels, one spare, windscreen, windows (as photo)
Serviced regularly
4568 X 1769 mm
From previous owners in this country

But that is exactly what buyers of portable antiquities do. In the antiquities trade, descriptions of the offered items are invariably extremely laconic and seldom reveal much more than can be seen on the photos. The one above is a spoof of an actual description of an object discussed here a few days ago. I suspect this is part laziness, dealers know that there will always be a sucker who will buy it no matter what (vide the sales successes of the fake sellers on ebay). Partly however this may be deliberate, if the seller goes into details about the object itself, then the reader is going to look suspiciously about what he avoids saying, when it left the ground, and in what circumstances it came into the hands of the seller. This is an area which one gets the impression many sellers would like to keep the transaction no-questions-asked.

Even when an object is accompanied by a longer text, the additional material is most frequently not additional information about the object on offer, but "filling in the background" a ready-made narrative to make the object more attractive - they are often lifted from sources like Wikipedia.

Obviously behind laconic and secretive statements like a cuneiform tablet offered as "From a private US collection" can hide a multitude of sins. Surely the seller who has nothing to hide (for he knows the item he has on offer can be shown to be of totally legitimate origin) would have no reason to hide his light under a bushel, on the contrary. So what does it mean when they remain tight-lipped ? In fact the car I bought had an internet advert which contained two 'pages' worth of description of that specific vehicle which I went through before even contacting the dealer's showroom to examine the registration documents and service log and question the explanation of the rather strange quoted mileage. I do not see why buyers of antiquities should expect anything less from a dealer who has nothing to hide.

Photo: Swiss Tony, not an antiquities dealer.


Marcus Preen said...

"there will always be a sucker who will buy it no matter what"

Not just suckers surely?

Wouldn't that description be adequate for purchasing it under the ACCG ethical purchasing policy?

Paul Barford said...

Yes it's odd isn't it that a COLLECTORS' (sic) Guild has a five point "code of Ethics" only two of which apply to collectors.... the rest dealers.

So the Code of Ethics for car buyers by extension would be:
"1) Car buyers will not knowingly purchase cars illegally removed from guarded car parks or stolen from museum or personal collections, and will comply with all property laws of their own country.

2. Car buyers will protect, preserve and share knowledge about cars in their possession"

What do you want to know about my old car Mr Preen? It's red, and fully compliant with the Ancient Car Collectors' Guild Code of Ethics. Just needs a bit of retooling and it will be as good as new.

Marcus Preen said...

What do you want to know about my old car Mr Preen?

Well I'm pretty sanguine about buying it from you as from all you've told me it will comply with all property laws in my country, something my sense of self-worth dictates I must always adhere to. I am considered a fine fellow locally and intend to maintain that aura.

I won't insult you by requesting a list of the previous owners since, as I know you, I'm confident it's legitimate - and spookily, that's exactly what the customers who come to my car lot - Preen's Genuwyne Guaranteed Pre-owned Bargains - say to me.

I've heard Commies suggesting paperwork ought to be provided but they're as naive as PAS, all that would do is damage my interest - and yours. I've always found a handshake between true gentlemen, even a cyber one, was adequate reassurance. It's the nature of the trade. Commies just don't understand the nature of commerce.

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