Thursday 30 January 2014

eBay Reportedly Agree to Suspend Selling Egyptian Antiquities

Could it be a much-overdue MOU or emergency import restrictions are on the way?
The Egyptian Embassy in Washington has reached an agreement with eBay, a leading online auction wbsite, to suspend selling Egyptian archaeological pieces in its internet auctions. Egyptian Ambassador to the US Mohamed Tawfiq said eBay company officials have expressed preparedness to cooperate with the Egyptian government since starting talks in this respect in October 2013.

He noted that several US associations, like Capitol Archaeological Institute, are ready to cooperate with the Egyptian government to buoy up its efforts to prevent stealing, smuggling and selling of Egyptian antiquities.

These efforts coincide with the embassy’s arrangement for a visit by Egyptian Minister of Antiquities to the US for talks on cooperation in curbing Egyptian antiquities smuggling and renovating some Egyptian archaeological sites, he added. 
Source: 'Egyptian embassy in US, eBay agree to suspend selling antiquities', The Cairo Post,  Jan. 29, 2014

At the moment, 29th Jan 12:AM, there are 2,476 Egyptian (or 'Egyptian') antiquities on Of these 1213 are being sold by US sellers (and 82 by other "N. American" sellers - Canadian I guess). A lot of it is complete crap, not even resembling real antiquities (but people are bidding on them). 

Here is the problem, everybody knows that a lot of the eBay antiquities are not real, so are the sellers of real dodgy artefacts just going to dodge the issue and say in their descriptions "no guarantee of authenticity - you decide" and thus carry on selling the same stock regardless of the ban? Or are eBay  as good as their word, and going to shut down the entire category? (What do we reckon, eBay "as good as their word"? Anyone?). Let us see. 

There are one or two dealers of such things on eBay I'd like to see inconvenienced by this, if not shut down. Their stuff is obviously real and has no paperwork mentioned, and ever-so-vague collecting histories. There are one or two dealers cheekily selling what to my eye are dangerous fakes at very high prices. I'd like to see them prosper for the simple reason that it's the one way I think carefree collectors are going to learn that finding out exactly where something came from and got on the market is important, and that seems to me to be the only way to stop no-questions-asked dealing. 

All eyes will be on eBay over the coming months. And what about the brick and mortar dealers? Will they be joining Messers Sayles, Welsh and Tompa in their efforts to grind the US Gubn'mint down over import restrictions by their tiresome protests and stunts? Or, unlike that lot, will the other dealers accept that the situation on the antiquities market long ago reached a crisis point when something has to be done to maintain a clean market and responsible collecting?

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