Thursday, 7 November 2019

Potential Unknown Parts of the Staffordshire Hoard on EBay?

We know that the Staffordshire Hoard findspot was not fully explored at the time of discovery in July 2009, the original keyhole 'excavation' in autumn of that year and subsequent work in 2010 and in December 2012. Almost certainly in that time, objects from the hoard and associated with it have found their way into private collections in Europe and the US. Now the full (?) report of the objects found to date has appeared there is renewed interest in the hoard, so perhaps we might expect some of those items now to resurface. They would hardly likely to be labelled with a collecting history that specifically states them to be from this find. We should look very carefully at anything appearing that does not have proper and explicit provenances that looks like it could be some of this material. Obviously, dealers - knowing we are on the lookout for this kind of material - if their stock comprises licit artefacts would be at pains to present every scrap of evidence they have that places a distance between what they are selling and the Staffordshire Hoard. What are we to make of dealers that do not do this?

For sale on EBay this very moment by the dealer 'wear-the-past' (2819 ) [yuk!] based in Bath, United Kingdom (165km from the Hoard findspot) for a cool $1,185.00, despite it being - like the Staffordshire Hoard items, plough damaged:
Rare 6th - 7th century A.D. Anglo-Saxon Period Gold and Garnet Ring Bezel Stud 'This is a wonderful Anglo-Saxon or Frankish gold finger ring bezel (or stud), dating to the 6th - 7th century A.D. It is decorated with Cloisonné cells, set with garnet gemstones in a cruciform design. It appears to have been either used as a cap, to cover an object or scabbard stud (similar to pieces found in the Staffordshire hoard) or set as the bezel of a gold finger ring. Today the jewel has survived, with minor scuffing from its time buried in the ground. The gems are original and still securely set. An interesting piece of Saxon treasure, worthy of a fine collection. OBJECT: Finger Ring bezel or scabbard cap etc.
CULTURE: Anglo-Saxon / Frankish
DATE: c. 6th - 7th century A.D.
MATERIAL: Gold and Garnets
SIZE: 12mm x 7mm
WEIGHT: 1.25 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. B. Jones collection, Kansas. USA
This item is unconditionally guaranteed to be an antique original and to date from the period described. A certificate of authenticity will be supplied on request.
Now, I do not know who "B. Jones of Kansas" is, still less how he or she obtained this item, and when - and whether it was disclaimed as Treasure under the 1996 Treasure Act or exported from the UK with an export licence or not. The seller simply does not say - as if they think nobody really cares, or should care. These matters are however not by any means without meaning... especially as (coincidentally, no doubt), the same seller has this with the same ability to supply a certificate of authenticity on request:

6th - 7th century Saxon / Merovingian gold gilded chip-carved armour fitting

This is a wonderful Saxon period chip-carved belt fitting, dating to the 6th - 7th century. It is decorated with a complex interlaced design, some of the gold gilding has worn off giving a nice contrast with the patina. It retains four rivet holes with traces of the iron rivets. This was presumably riveted to metal (rather than leather) using the iron rivets for strength, as such would have formed part of an armour or helmet decoration with the design suitable for a leather strap. A rare object, comparable with finds from the Staffordshire Hoard! OBJECT: Strap Fitting
CULTURE: Anglo Saxon / Merovingian
DATE: c. 6th - 7th century A.D.
MATERIAL: Bronze gold gilded
SIZE: 34mm x 12mm
WEIGHT: 3.19 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. [sic!] European Private Collection
The same comments about this "ex European Private Collection" (Old Swiss?). And on just what grounds can one honestly issue a CoA if you do not actually know whether it is 'grounded' as you do not know the details of the beginning of its collecting history (for if one did, why is it not presented n the sales offer?). Would a CoA rely on the issuer's connoisseurship (we know how dodgy a guide that can be) or "looks like" grounds? Above all, since the Staffordshire Hoard field has been looted for the last ten years, it becomes important to note when the object entered that collection, and really what that 'collection' consisted of. That it is a European one means nothing at all. Why are details so (deliberately) scanty?  Then there is
6th - 7th century A.D. Anglo Saxon Period Gold & Garnet Scabbard Button RARE  This is a very rare Saxon gold jeweled scabbard button, dating to the 6th - 7th century A.D. It is an impressive piece of early Saxon jewelry, set with a large flat-topped garnet gemstone. The garnet is held in a rubbed over the bezel, decorated with beaded wirework. Similar flat-topped garnet can be found on the Anglo-Saxon gold pectoral cross, found in the Staffordshire Hoard. OBJECT: Scabbard Button CULTURE: Saxon Germanic Migration. DATE: c. 6th - 7th century A.D. MATERIAL: Gold & Garnet SIZE: 18.13mm x 13.66mm x 8.41mm WEIGHT: 4.82 grams PROVENANCE: Ex. [sic!] European Private Collection, Dublin, Ireland
It's actually still got soil on it...  What kind of self-respecting "private collector" wold have a grubby piece like that in the collection?  And what about this piece? Dating? origin? Its description as a 'scrying' piece is dealer's crap:
Rare 7th century A.D. Anglo Saxon Gold and Rock Crystal Scrying Pendant Jewel. This is a superb Anglo Saxon period gold and rock crystal pendant, dating to the 7th century. It is intact with a suspension loop on the back, the crystal is very clear and of a fine quality. The Saxons called rock crystal ðurhscynestan - literally ‘through shine stone’. It is thought the lens was used for scrying but also for magnification (of lettering, or for viewing intricate detail by craftsmen). Rock crystal was considered a very magical material, used to peer into the future, see visions by seer's [sic], psychics and mediums - who were known as "Völva" to the Vikings and Spákona to the Saxons. This is a beautiful ancient pendant, intact and in good excavated condition.
OBJECT: Pendant - Scrying lens
CULTURE: Anglo-Saxon / Frankish
DATE: c. 7th century A.D.
MATERIAL: Gold and Rock Crystal
SIZE: 17mm x 6mm
WEIGHT: 2.88 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex.[sic] European Private Collection
Note here how narrativisation is extended, more than anything that is said about collecting history.  There is some more interesting AS goldwork which arouses our interest too.  Like this: Rare 7th - 9th century A.D. Anglo Saxon Period Gold Pendant Sun Wheel Pendant and 6th - 7th century A.D. Anglo Saxon Period Gold Concentric Ring Shaped Pendant and a ring... you get the picture.


Absolutely ZERO real information required or given of where this material is coming from, and how it is getting onto the UK market. A nighthawk's dream.

The seller, wear-the-past (2819) has 98.4% positive feedback and claims:
I am a fully qualified Archaeologist and small finds specialist, working in research and acquisition of ancient jewelry (sic), intaglios, and gems. All items for sale are guaranteed ancient. Further stock can be found on my website
From the website we get a little better picture:
Our company is founded on 'expertise' headed by Adam, a fully qualified archaeologist, and small finds specialist. After a lifelong passion for ancient history, coin collecting, and metal detecting, Adam graduated in Archaeology with Honours, from the University of Wales, Lampeter in the year 2000 and has been actively dealing in antiquities and coins ever since.  
Another PAS 'success story'? Metal detectorist turned archaeology student...  So, Adam, one archaeologist to another, where did that Anglo-Saxon gold come from?

1 comment:

Hougenai said...

from the 'About us' section of their website;-

'Each object is vetted and fully authenticated as ancient, with full provenance and paperwork provided if known.'

So what if it isn't known?

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