Monday, 5 January 2015

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: ATTENTION LANDOWNERS Finders and Fairness, "Trust Me"

UK Detecting net member "Ianrichards" from Callington in Cornwall has a question which he does not want to go to the PAS with, so decides to try the forum's old hands (Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:00 pm, Post subject: 'Sharing finds with landowner - advice AGAIN')
This is all hypothetical ... OK, so you've got your permission from a friendly farmer and have agreed on a 50/50 share either by a signed agreement or a handshake and after a moderately successful day in the field you go back to the farmhouse to show him your goodies. Now let's say that as well as the usual trash you have a strap-end buckle, a croatal [sic] bell and a hammie (you've had a brilliant day). What's the protocol for divi-ing up when items are of such varying value? This really is all hypothetical ... PM if need be.
Why would he want a P[rivete] M[essage]? Why in fact would he even need to ask? The matter is a simple one. He can lay it all out on a newspaper and begin counting. He'll pull out a copy of Benet's Artefacts or one of the other guides, such as Mills' "Celtic and Roman Artefacts" (or "Saxon and Viking" or this one on "Medieval Artefacts") or leaf through with the farmer the finds valuation section of several of the hobby magazines.

A conversation might go something like this: "This says something like this is worth 35-40 quid, look, see? But this one is a bit broken here, let's say twenty-five quid, OK? This (look, there's one here) twenty. The buckle's quite a good find, twenty five, the coin - I'd have to pay about sixty to eighty for it if I bought it. These four bits, a fiver each it says here. This one, eight. The "trash" - here - it's scrap value mainly, have a look, what do you think? I'll show it to the FLO and if anything else of importance is here which I'll want for my collection, I'll settle up later. Shall we say seventy five quid for the lot? OK? Yes? Good. Just sign here please, I have not got that much on me today, but here's twenty and I'll bring the rest on Tuesday, thanks".

Is that what he hears do you think? So far there's just one reply:
Landowner will possibly feign interest but you will build trust. In terms of "mundane bits" you can get as involved as you wish.... plot them on a map of the farm then make a presentation case. Its about history of the land not £££`s.
 What do you reckon that means? Mr Richardson is adding items to his personal collection all of which have a financial value, for there is a market for many of them even the 'partifacts'. It seems only fair that the owner of those objects gets his fair share if he has agreed to let them go for half price (minus cost of recovery), that is fine - yes, he should feel he can 'trust' the detectorist to not cheat him out of the value of the 'mundane' bits. Certainly they should look through detecting forums and magazines to see just how much the man with the metal detector and wry smile at his door can be trusted.

See also this thread originated by the same question - with the same range of careless replies. Just think how much money is being pocketed by artefact collectors all over the country classifying most of what they find "mundane bits" and not offering their owner even a half-fair price for them before walking off with them to add them to enhance their growing collections. How many landowners are made aware of the price guides for "mundane bits' at the time they put their signature to a detectorists unfairly one-sided 'search and take agreement'? Is the PAS doing anything to "outreach to the public" (who pay for it) to raise awareness on this issue? Why not?

UPDATE 6th Dec 2015

Although I see on the detecting forums there are detectorists who pretend they do not understand what is written above, it is clear some responsible detectorists (such as Detectorbloke) cannot keep up this pretence ('Metal Detecting on BBC 4 Farming Today', Monday, 5 January 2015):
 As to 'lucrative diversification' then a farmer should be aware that it's not just shiny coins that are worth money. Beehive thimbles, buckles, spurs, crotal bells and all sorts of other things can be commonly found by detectorists and can be worth a fair few quid. Some detectorists might think that they can buy you off with a bottle of whiskey in exchange for them not showing you stuff they then keep / sell without you knowing.
That is the point, twenty quid here, fifteen there, a fiver and so on, month after month adds up. All these things are going into a personal collection, which increases its eventual resale value (either as individual pieces of a 'set' of objects). Those who are persuading landowners that they can pocket items for free because, they argue, they are not worth much, are stealing. Let them honestly show a farmer the artefact price guides mentioned above (I am sure they can be borrowed from a public library in the UK) before asking them to sign away (or agree to giving away) their rights to half-fair remuneration of what the detectorist pockets. Artefact release protocols signed by the landowner should stipulate what happens to the funds from any eventual resale of objects even if the farmer received half-market value on the understanding that the objects were going into the finder's own collection (the market value of some artefacts may be considerably greater than when the finder originally took them home).


Rantman said...

Have ever been present at a metal detecting dig/rally? I've read some of your valid points but the selectivity of the examples makes me think you can't possibly have been at a dig ? You can't truly have a proper understanding of what you criticise without having first hand experience of it surely?

Paul Barford said...

Yes, as I have said on this blog a number of times. I have I have also had MDs collaborating with me on an excavation and survey project here in Poland. I understand perfectly well "what I criticise".

But this post is not about "digging" it is about how one goes about assessing the financial recompense the detectorist should give the landowner for walking off with collectables from their property.

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