Thursday 27 November 2014

The Scale of Cultural Property Exports from the UK

Gareth Harris writes of "Eight culturally significant objects prevented from export" (Museums Journal 26th Nov 2014), but also "more than 32,600 items [...] were issued with export licences after expert advisers decided they were not of sufficient national importance". Note the discrepancy with the "further 23,307 items" which were "issued with export licences because they had been imported into the UK within the past 50 years". So that's 23000 pieces of cultural property brought in, but 56000 taken out, and only eight retained in the UK. This year, last year, year after year. And that's not counting the many many oiks who just pack a few metal detected finds in an envelope and send them to a foreign eBayer or dealer, rubbing their hands with glee. What is the scale of that? Of course, there is this magick cave under the Wrekin from which a constant flow of antiques and antiquities comes flowing forth every full moon - so there is no reason to worry that at such a rate, we'll be running out of artefacts.

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