Sunday, 28 October 2018

EBay's policy for Antiquities Sales on British Market

The archaeologists have got at

Note, this requires compliance with (only) UK law (only), note also the (only) 'should' check if it has been reported (no mention of export licences etc). Note also the lack of verb in tjhe sentence on PAS reporting and the claimed findspot.

Do sellers pay any attention? Have a look.

We also remember the recommendtions back in 2009 of the recommendations of the 2009 Oxford Archaeology Nighthawking Report (preface and p. 110, 116) dealt with this issue, recommending that in the UK they should:
Implement changes recently introduced in Europe which increase the obligation on sellers of antiquities to provide provenances and establish legal title, and urge eBay to introduce more stringent monitoring of antiquities with a UK origin offered for sale on their website, as they have done with Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
While looking at the 'British antiquities' sold on, here's a good game at this moment, have  look at the 'metal detected finds' there and see how many outright fakes you can spot - Bulgarian bulk buys being marketed as local finds? Again, forcing sellers to properly document where these items came from would cut down the incidences of fraud ... if eBay really is interested in removing fraudulent material from their sales portal.


Hougenai said...

Another good game on E-bay is 'Spot the mis-identified liths' (also a game for the PAS database-it's a while since i've played and hopefully they have upped their game in the meantime).
Not just the blatant 'Palaeolithic portable art (usually from North sea, somewhere near Clacton)' but also the 'from an old collection' and 'eyes only find'.
In many cases 'Item as described' is laughable.

Links are not included here as players must take their own responsibility for the barrage of 'special offers' to their inbox for the next week after enquiry.

Paul Barford said...

Yes, I have spotted those. I have raised the issue with the PAS in the past, to what extent they are responsible for notifying eBay to such fraudulent listings when they are 'monitoring' eBay.

In the case of the Clacton guy, have PAS attempted to contact him or her over vetting these finds of 'portable art' and helping them to learn to tell what is what in order to avoid charges of fraudulent listings? This raises the whole issue of professional responsibility when we see fraud being committed -should we not be alerting law enforcement? There is another eBayer who lists ordinary stones as ancient tools but with some almost-plausible descriptions deliberately using technical-sounding big words which - to judge by the number of sales he's made - fool collectors. Yet the photos reveal two things (1), that these objects are not artefacts amnn (2) when it comes to antiquities collectors, there are a lot of easily-fooled folk out there since once you know how to look, the items shown are claearly not lithic artefacts but just bashed stones.

I think there is another issue too, suppose a bloke came along to a PAS finds day and asked a lot of questions about 'how to tell real lithic artefacts from scams' - to what extent should the FLO engage with that in order that the bloke then goes away and buys loose artefacts on EBay on the basis of what the FLO told him>? Should that be what PAS' archaeological outreach should be serving?

Hougenai said...

I've wondered about reporting to e-bay or even the police. The problem i see is that they could be genuinely convinced that they have what they claim and that they 'Are acting in good faith'. In general the buyer's (if they are genuine) appear to be happy with transactions and descriptions (so much for the expertise of the collector). It is too easy to consider 'fool's and their money' and leave it at that, but that just allows the problem to continue.
Another thought was to start by contacting the vendor to ask some more questions, like; have you an independent id? would you submit the item for a third party id? What does your employer say about your monitoring offshore gravel extraction for likely looking nodules when you should be doing your job?
Similar questions to the dealers who buy in 'old collections'.
For those offering 'Treasure' as defined by the act, 'where is the documentation from the Coroner or Treasure valuation committee?'.

For all; Do you post overseas? Where is your export licence?

There are a whole range of issues that the 'informational message' goes only part way to adressing, or rather absolving ebay of some responsibility.

Perhaps we should be thinking of some coordinated efforts to monitor antiquities sales on ebay. I've restricted my enquiries to UK vendors but the issue is likely to be huge when considering the worldwide trade in antiquities.

I would suggest that anyone who fancies a go, set up dedicated accounts (e-bay and e-mail)for this purpose alone.

Paul Barford said...

... Or just get used to the spamming adverts from several dealers and metal detector sellers. I get them all the time, and in revenge I use some of them in my posts here if they're randomly spamming my blog with dodgy-looking artefacts....

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