Wednesday 2 December 2020

Another Two "Anglo-Saxon Helmets" from the US Dodge Antiquities (II)


Here's the next Artemis Gallery Anglo-Saxon helmet: "Rare Anglo-Saxon Iron Helmet w/ Nose Guard and Ear Flaps", Estimate $10,000 - $15,000 Sold Oct 08, 2020 (15 bids). DESCRIPTION

Western Europe, Great Britain, England, Anglo-Saxon, ca. 6th to 8th century CE. A wonderful Anglo-Saxon iron helmet constructed with two broad panels that intersect over the top of the domed form. A lengthy nose guard is integral with the front of the vertical panel and has a pair of protruding points that give the impression of relatively rounded eye holes. Additional iron plates are riveted in place along the underside to create an enclosed armor piece, and a pair of ear flaps drape from the lateral peripheries. [...] Size: 7.375" W x 11" H (18.7 cm x 27.9 cm) [...] The Saxons were fierce, bearded warriors who fought [...] [bla-bla Wikipedia-style narrativisation] [...]
Provenance: ex-estate of Eldert Bontekoe, Pegasi Numismatics, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, acquired before 2000

All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute [bla-bla] CONDITION
One ear flap is unattached from hinges and is displayed on an auxiliary arm as shown. Second ear flap is attached only by one hinge ring. Slight bending to overall form of helmet periphery, nose guard, and ear flaps, with light encrustations and pitting in several areas. Great iron patina throughout.

Eldert Bontekoe died on March 30 2020, he was the owner of the firm Pegasi Numismatics. There are several obituaries in the internet. While we have quite a bit of information on the previous owner of this object, what we do not know is anything much about where he got these helmets from. We are told he bought them "before 2000" but we do not know who he was dealing with then. Was it a British metal detectorist? 

There is however another helmet with a similar description: Rare 6th C. Anglo-Saxon Iron Helmet w/ Nose Guard, Estimate $14,000 - $21,000 sold on Oct 22, 2020 and it got just one bid. Lot 0032 Details

Western Europe, Great Britain, England, Anglo-Saxon, ca. 6th to 8th century CE. A fabulous Anglo-Saxon iron helmet of a domed form comprised of two broad panels with dozens of rivets securing iron plating underneath. The brow band displays additional rivets as well as a lower periphery lined with dozens of perforations meant to accommodate both chainmail mesh as well as a pair of ovoid ear flaps. The front of the helmet bears a T-shaped nose guard with a rounded top section secured to the brow band with three rivets. [...] Size: 8" W x 9.875" H (20.3 cm x 25.1 cm);[...] The Saxons were fierce, bearded warriors who fought [...] [oh, pleeeease....] Provenance: ex-estate of Eldert Bontekoe, Pegasi Numismatics, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, acquired before 2000 All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute [bla-bla, you get a Dodge-Certificate of Authenticity with this one too] guaranteed to be as described or your money back. [...] CONDITION Brown stabilization material along several interior surfaces. Small losses to areas of some brow band perforations as well as a couple of petite perforations to top of dome, with light encrustations and pitting, and very slight bending to areas of lower periphery and nose guard, otherwise excellent. Fantastic iron patina throughout.
Hmmm. So if somebody sells something to me and it is described as having "fantastic iron patina throughout|" and the whole outside surface looks to be stripped down to bare metal, do I get my money back? Interestingly, in my earler post about the first two Dodge helmets, I said we needed to see inside- and here Bob Dodge has shown the inside. Precisely the point I was making, let the potential buyer see what they are getting. So in the one with the stripped outside, inside we see smooth corrosion products and that convenient mention of a "brown stabilization material along several interior surfaces". Where does the one end and the other begin, I ask. Also why (and how) was one side treated differently from the other during conservation? More importantly, where in the interior photo are visible the heads of the rivets that we see on the outside? Eh? Do the rivets actually go through the two or three layers of metal? Can we see an X-ray? Why when there is a forged sagittal iron band ending on the brow of both helmets, was it not continued down as a nose guard, instead of having the only element protecting the face attached as a separate element held by a few flimsy rivets? What is the evidence for these "ovoid cheek plates", and how would they have been attached? How was the helmet kept on the head? And why is this one circular too? What function was the row of perforations? Chain mail or a leather lining? The other one is clearly similar to the Coppergate helmet, and Wollertone one but both of this have narrower crests and the margins of the eye-holes are thickened. This one is made in the same technique of thin broad plain iron bands riveted to segmental plates as the other three Dodge helmets. Another difference is that the excavated helmets had a nose gaurd that meant the helmet could be put on without first removing the wearer's nose. Both of Mr Dodge's recent sales must have belonged to noseless warriors. I suppose the alternative is that all four of these helmets of similar construction and a similar arange of unanswered questions sold by a single dealer in the USA apparently without export licences are pastiches made up for sale. I do not see anything in the description that falsifies such a suggestion. We've already seen how Mr Dodge depicts himself as authenticating an object. I personally would have taken a closer look at several other things than whether it is wrought iron/carbon steel. But then, actually we have seen that Mr Dodge had in fact seen that PawnStars helmet before, and sold it. Did his client return it for some reason, and now he's showing it on the TV to find another buyer? An odd business. And if they are real, HOW DARE he be selling British artefacts like this so openly? And where are the four (?) metal detectorists responsible for the sale of such rare artefacts abroad. Perhaps Britain needs first of all an investigation, and then a CCPIA MOU with Biden's America.


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