Thursday 5 January 2017

Flogging off the past a Booming Business [UPDATED]

Charles Hanson is posing in a puce silk waistcoat with a metal detector at the head of his latest press release: '97% Sale Rate for Hansons Historica Auction' - 02/12/2016, in which he says he is:
delighted to report the success of the inaugural Historica Coins and Antiquities auction. Bidding was fierce, with a busy saleroom facing strong, worldwide competition from both internet and telephone bidders. This resulted in an impressive 97% sale rate for the lots on offer, with over 40% achieving a hammer price above their top estimate. A selection of items with Derbyshire provenances created great interest. Three lots of locally found Prehistoric flint arrowheads brought exceptional prices and auctioneer Charles Hanson brought down the hammer on the largest group at £1000. A very rare Roman silver denarius from 69AD sold for £850, a great result for the lucky metal detectorist who discovered it just a few miles from Hansons Etwall saleroom.
Hanson's also flogged off a Neolithic jadeite axe for £2900 and 'a splendid 13th century gold ring' for £3600. Another 'lucky metal detectorist' no doubt, only in it for the history, you know.
Coin highlights included a Civil War halfcrown from the siege of Newark (£1900), a 7th century gold thrymsa from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Kent (£2500) and an Iron age gold stater of Verica, King of the Atrebates tribe, showing a warrior on horseback (£960).
Half of which sums we hope Mr Hanson immediately paid directly to the landowner whose property they were and who signed search and take agreements with the findersd (each of which Mr H. no doubt personally checked to ensure the seller indeed had title).
Obviously, there is a lot of money to be made from flogging off artefacts, whether or not they are recorded by the PAS (they now have 1,234,785 'objects' in the database. Even if the average flogging-off-istry price is 20 quid each (see the finds valuation pages of metal detecting magazines to see that's the minimum many of the types in metal detectorists' collections are worth), that's  24.7 million quid's worth of our heritage (and landowners' property) already in private hands, and that is just the tip of the iceberg, that's just the ones recorded.

[updated in the light of the comments below about the identity of the coin, which the PAS database incorrectly calls since 2008 a "Roman Republic coin". We now learn that the coin was found nearly a decade ago. Was the seller able to show a search-and-take permit from the landowner dated for that period to establish title -especially as such items are rarely found as far north as the UK? Mr Hanson assured HA [archives] that he would be collecting such documentation from sellers].


Duncan Finch said...

It wasn't a denarius of Otho:
Lot image

Lot: 4018

Civil War Denarius, Southern Gaul Denarius of the civil wars, issued by pro-Vitellian forces in Southern Gaul, March 69AD Obv. Draped, diademed bust of Vesta right, lighted torch in front, VESTA PR QVIRITIVM Rev. Jupiter Capitolinus seated left on throne, holding sceptre and thunderbolt, within distyle temple, IO MAX CAPITOLINVS Recorded with Portable Antiquities Scheme: DENO-340DE5 18mm/3.07g RIC 128, SEAR 2085


kyri said...

what a coincidence in todays episode of antiques road trip [series 14 episode 4 at 15min 25 seconds if you can get bbc i player]mr Hanson sings the praises of metal detecting .it shows him in a field next to a childrens playground metal detecting than he gets a bleep and goes into one saying it might be a bag of gold was a metal tube.i wonder if he had permission to do that.bad example for all the children watching the program. no mention of the legalities a country where metal detectors are sold in toy shops the least they can do is mention that you need the land owners permission.
BTW,he had a big shovel with him not a trowel.

Paul Barford said...

Was he in a silk waistcoat, or maybe top hat and tails this time? And the reaction of the PAS will be....?

Unknown said...

Whilst I vehemently disagree with you on many issues, I have absolute agreement on pursuing this one. I have seen the people behind this touting for trade on Facebook with a network on social media groups. By having specifically targeted detecting finds sales, there is a danger of creating a find to sell attitude. Going from good luck in finding something, to specific Treasure Hunting for pure financial reward. I find it makes me queasy. They are creating a 'grey' market for artefacts and as a byproduct then become a potential 'fencing' service for parties who might lie about the original findspots. I am for instance, concerned that artefacts found in Scotland (where they would be subject to automatic Treasure Trove) , could find themselves recorded as being found elsewhere, and sold in an English saleroom. I hope their acceptance approval and scrutiny of paperwork takes this into account. There is also the problem of when people who say they would never sell artefacts die and what happens to those items then - and the provenance of those items in the saleroom. The genial Charles Hanson is a figure head, and it's sad that his BBC celebrity is being put to this use (even if he does also do much good work for charity as well).

Paul Barford said...

"there is a danger of creating a find to sell attitude".
Basically that has existed since metal detectors came on the market - that's why a leading hobby magazine is called "Treasure Hunting". Where do you think the thousands of metal 'partifact' objects sold on eBay come from? The elves? These are objects collectors do not want for their collections.

>They are creating a 'grey' market for artefacts<
eh? Where have you been these last forty years? That's what this blog ios about - you know, the one you attacked and called 'click bait' last week, the issues are FAR more complex than just "using spades' Mr Ross. And they all interact with each other. You want to see most artefact hunters as amateur (citizen) archaeologists, I see thousands of citizens involved in collecting - and that market for archaeological collectables is part of collecting and collecting is part of the commercialisation of the archaeological resources. You seem to think its a good thing, I see it as a negative phenomenon. I argue why, you call me names.

> parties who might lie about the original findspots<
The PAS doers NOTHING to verify findspots of the majority of the tens of thousands of loose objects they handle yearly. In this blog the problem is discussed - including with documented examples - yet its one which still has not been admitted let alone addressed addressed by the PAS. Yes finds from Scotland and continental Europe can be laundered by bringing them to an English FLO. My own early contacts with detectorists were marred by the time I organized a fieldwork project on the say-so of a tekkie who reported something to the local museum. It was freezing cold and we found nothing, and it later turned out the tekkie had lied about where he found the item. We never did discover where it had come from.

>I hope their acceptance approval and scrutiny of paperwork takes this into account.<
The issue was raised with them, and they assured both myself and HA that the paperwork would all be legal and above board. Was it? Who knows?

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