Sunday 30 May 2021

History Channel Films US No-Questions-Asked Antiquities Deal in Progress

On the so-called "History Chanel" show Pawn Stars: "Major Money for Super Rare Loot". The first part of this video is about the purchase of a collection of Viking objects that the seller ("James") who walks into a shop to flog got from "a buddy in England" that he "trades with". No mention here of the Treasure process, or seeing the export licence for any of it. I've no idea who the US "expert" is who has the swords for sale, note his use of the term "Baltic Viking". This video has been up about a month now, and received 1,797,475 views, and over 1500 comments. Yet as far as I can see no comment on the legal aspects of this. Fixed. 
If the Viking objects were from England, the gold armlet at least would have needed to be reported under the 1996 Treasure Act, and if disclaimed, documented as such. It would also need an export licence to remove it from the UK legally. The artefacts euphemistically referred to as "Baltic Viking" will have come from the Baltic states (or NW Russia), all countries that have legislation concerning the excavation and private appropriation and export of archaeological material. No mention is made by either the seller or buyer of any paperwork, and none is shown being examined by the buyer at the time of purchase. This gives the impression that nobody in the US involved in this programme is at all concerned by the legal status of the objects that we see changing hands for money - whether the programme is depicting them being filmed carelessly fencing looted and smuggled artefacts or not. We'd be interested to know the nature of the material the seller is "trading with" the British dealer in order to obtain these items, and whether they too are moved across national borders without any legitimising paperwork.

Note how the shopkeeper selected only a few of the items from this assemblage for purchase and selling on further obliterating their collecting history as part of the assemblage middleman "James" had created. What happened to the rest? This is what most of the deals on the US antiquities market look like, the artefacts and the information they have/had are subservient to how much money can be made out of them, and by attributing catchy labels to them ("


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