Saturday 24 May 2014

UK Metal Detecting: "We put in The Hours, but They Pay Poor Hourly Rates"

Now it seems landowners (or people claiming to be farmers) can only write about metal detecting hiding their identity behind anonymous screen names. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this is because the writer is in fact one of the many sock-puppets that certain UK detectorists hide behind in order to attempt to shift the public debate away from uncomfortable issues. Over on the "i - Go Detecting" blog, such anonymous posts are accepted and one "Anonymous" (22 May 2014 16:18) attempt to add to the Fifty-shifty contracts discussion. He claims to be a farmer and he advises that detectorists when they've found a collectable items, they should ask the farmer
"if you sell it would he like some of the money".
The first point is of course that this should surely be clarified in the prior finds allocation agreement. The finds and any money made from their possession, belong 100% to the landowner (that goes for royalties from photo sales as well which have been discussed on this blog previously). How on earth does the artefact hunter, a guest on the land, become the person determining whether the owner wants some of his own money back? That's 'entitlement' for you!

In any case, at what stage is going on another person's land in order to find things to sell part of the bargain? Surely most detectorists (by their own account) tell landowners they are artefact hunting for their own pleasure and "researching the past". There is a long way from that to commercial artefact mining.

Mr "Anonymous farmer" however seems to accept the latter without any hesitation. Indeed, he reckons that such commercial activity can be seen in the same category as a "job" (how many benefit scroungers are doing the same calculations?). He suggests that "many farmers" will refuse to take money from artefact hunters for collectables they have found because
"you spent the time finding it (say 5 to 7 hours) and they would normally say if you sell it for £50.00 that is a poor hourly rate.[...] i am a farmer, and this is exactly the way i handle things with the two guys that search my lands".
I am not convinced that the average dole scrounger with no family (for who else is spending five-to-seven hours of their day out in a field?) for example would consider ten pounds an hour (tax-free and with no National Insurance Contributions paid out of it) is actually SO bad compared with the current UK minimum wage (reportedly £6.31 an hour). But I wonder how honest those "two guys that search my lands" are being that this farmer considers that on an average site practised detectorists can come away from a whole day's search with only ONE item in their pocket?

Of course the point about "fifty-shifty finds agreements" is that the objects artefact hunters take away inherently have a (monetary) value, and it is irrelevant whether a detectorist sells it or adds it to his personal collection. The collector is operating with somebody else's property. In the case of a collection, it may be that the objects are only monetised later, for example a collector dies and the objects are sold by his heirs. Somebody profits from a collector obtaining the property of another person (or several other people) and the question is whether the people who part with their property rights are fully aware of the consequences.    

No matter what Mr Anonymous' "two guys that search my lands" suggest by their behaviour, artefact hunters go artefact hunting not as an ersatz "job" with an anticipated hourly rate of reward. They (say they) go for the pleasure of it, like some people go bird watching, others train spotting,  and others sit at cafe tables watching people go by. It's a hobby, one that gets them out of the house, in the fresh air. Indeed, some UK metal detectorists pay landowners (both as a group and on an individual level) for this access to their land. This attitude that "we can keep wot we found, and the munny from selling it, cos we put in the time and petrol money into finding it, its ours by rights" is simply not in accord with the realities of the hobby and the framework imposed by current British law. Nobody makes metal detectorists detect. They do it for fun, let them not turn round and claim that they  should be rewarded for "work". If they don't like this "work" under the conditions imposed by current British law, and they refuse to accept the clear implications of the latter, let them find another way to earn money in the fresh air that they consider would pay better: spud sorting, apple-picking, dog-walking, car park attendant.

Vignette: Hobbyist Artefact hunting is not "work"


Anonymous said...

Mr Anonymous has detectorists' spelling, not farmers'.

BTW here's a check list landowners could use. E.g. Does your artefact hunter provide invoices?!

David Knell said...

Since when does someone expect to get paid for a hobby or pastime? I can spend all day rambling or cycling round the countryside "(say 5 to 7 hours)" and I get paid sod all for it!

Paul Barford said...

Yes it seems pretty likely that it's an artefact hunter hiding behind the anonymity, it's they who go on and on about their "investment of time and money" as justification for grabbing the cash.

It's a bit odd somebody saying they are a "responsible detectorist" but then irresponsibly publishes anonymous irresponsible and deceitful comments which show the hobby in a bad light.

For what is the author of such a blog accepting "responsibility" then?

Unknown said...

You obviously have better blogging technology than me Paul to be able to "see through" these comments. As long as the comment is not abusive, I will post it. I agree with David though...people should not be looking towards the hobby as a means of seeking a "pay day".

Paul Barford said...

I see no reason why a real farmer making a real point would need to hide his name. I see no reason why a real farmer who just "lets the lads get on with it" on his "lands" (sic) would be reading a post called "I am confused ????" (sic) on a blog called "i go Detecting" at four in the afternoon. It is a bit unlikely isn't it?

What is MORE unlikely is that a farmer coming across such a post and commenting on it would then include in it a defamatory insult about me, containing quite specific references to my occupation and geographic location. Your blog is going the same way as Andy Baines, who'd publish all the nasty comments by anonymous sock-puppets that came his way, with the results you observed, now you are doing it yourself.

Obviously, hanging around with metal detectorists has warped your perception of what constitutes "abusive". I would say anonymously posting defamatory remarks about a third person (for which by English law as the publisher YOU are responsible) is abuse.

I've been watching the milieu much longer than you, and to my eye, both in content and form this "anonymous" post has all the hallmarks of in fact being written by one of your metal detecting colleagues posing as somebody he is not.

I sent a perfectly civil question to your blog's comments in response to "Anonymous the Farmer's" comments about "hourly rates" which you have refused so far to publish. Why? Are you not interested in discussing the subject raised on your blog actually on your blog? It does seem quite a fundamental issue. Or are you just interested in scoring points against people that raise uncomfortable issues?

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