Saturday 15 May 2021

EBay Finally Abolishes Antiquities Sales

This appeared on the Yahoo Ancient Artifacts (sic) Discussion list a while back


Due to public concerns and controversy, eBay has taken the decision to
close the Antiquities category with effect from Monday, April 12, 2010.
This decision will affect eBay users in all countries. In addition,
eBay will no longer allow the listing of items deemed to be antiquities
(over 500 years old) in any other category and any listing found to be
in breach of the ruling will be removed.

We hope you continue to enjoy the eBay experience.

John Gretz
Senior Counsel
eBay Inc.
At the time, this was an April Fool joke, but... on 11th May this year - "What is eBay doing?" Note that the collectors and dealers on that forums are so fixated on their own narrow interests that some of them see this as a reaction to the number of complaints they were getting about fake antiquities. In fact, as they soon ascertained, the "antiquities" section has been abolished (see discussion here too).  All that actually seems to be happening is that eBay is at last putting its own policies into action (US version, UK version) which brings it into line with what they'd done in Europe several years earlier.

The actual effects of this policy are variable. It has not stopped the listing of antiquities. Now antiquities are being listed under "decorative collectables", Most things sold as "antiquities" on EBay belong in this category, fakes masquerading as "cool" artefacts for interior decoration. But in the case of those artefacts that actually do have paperwork defining them as legally-obtained and exported genuine artefacts, that fact is not going to be advertised because that would expose them as being listed in the wrong category.  Listing them under  "other antiques" will no doubt hinder buyers searching for them, as they are among maps and other crap. Hopefully this will bring the prices reached down because specialised collectors are not going to wade through a sea of irrelevant material and dealers will go out of business. Also what a comedown for antiquities dealers pretending to be erudite connoisseurs, bordering on the edges of scholarship - now they are pedlars of decorative collectables for interior decoration. The same goes for all those collectors who pretended to be "avocational scholars" and the suchlike, they are now buying decorative geegaws. 

But of course eBay being ebay, dugup ancient and medieval coins are unaffected, and still on sale as before, in their tens of thousands. The same goes for lithic items from the North American continent (probably because they are treated as "natural history" and "ethnographic" specimens rather than looted archaeological evidence. 

Is is good to see in this most public of fora, the selling of antiquities relegated to the same class as the sale of human remains, bits of endangered species, narcotics and sexual services. 

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