Wednesday 1 June 2022

Brooch was in Two Universes at Once Before Appearing on UK Antiquities Trade


From remarks on collectors' forums, it seems the catawiki antiquities business model is very flawed. Individual consigners offer items that are 'vetted' by Catawiki's experts. That they are not doing that very well can easily be seen if you look at the utter crap that some sellers offer. 

Observant collector Renate remarks on something offered by a new arrival (from Feb 2022), "Julius Collection" from UK ("Collectors of Ancient Art and Antiquities for three generations. We offer our our wide range of art for sale to collectors from all over the world. Based in London, UK we offer fast and efficient worldwide shipping").Hmmm. They don't seem very knowledgeable. Renate notes a "Gothic Bronze Radiate-Headed Brooch", Catawiki No. 56333145 sold to some numpty for € 65
OBJECT Radiate-Headed Brooch
CENTURY/ TIMEFRAME Circa 12th - 15th Century AD
CONDITION Good condition
They actually wrote that, confusing two uses of the term "Gothic". The descripton is what you'd expect them to say:
Description: This is a Gothic bronze radiate-headed brooch comprising semi-circular headplate with five knops to the outer edge, small bow, a rhomboid footplate with lateral projections and ovoid finial. Catch on the reverse.
Dimensions: 36.4mm x 21.2mm; Weight: 5.18g
Condition: Good condition \ See images.

This item has been professionally cleaned by our in-store Expert to highlight the original features.

Provenance: Private London Ancient Art Collection; formerly acquired from pre-2000 collection in the UK, Europe, America and Japan.

Statement of Authenticity will accompany this item.[...] The Seller can prove that the lot was obtained legally, provenance statement seen by Catawiki.[...]
Note that. "Provenance statement seen...". So that means something like a scan of a signed printout something like, for example, "Provenance statement: I Julius Julius of PO Box1652 London E6 5QQ state that the object I am selling comes from the source given in the auction statement [signature illegible]". What good is that? Posssibly Catawiki is covered from legal liabiility, but what about the responsibility of ensuring the items being handled were legally and ethically obtained?

Because there is a problem with this "Gothic fibula" - which is not "Gothic" (Ostro- Visi-or any other) at all. As "Renate" noted correctly this is an eastern European fibula, of what may be termed the post- Gothic horizon, most probably related to the Penkovska Culture (Conventionally: "Early Slavs"). But there is more than simply being mistaken about the identification. She notes that this brooch was not in any mythical "pre-2000 collection" in our own universe, only in the parallel one of the seller's own imagination (Another Dual Presence Artefact) Пятипалая фибула (checked 23 May 2022). Seller's description: Five-toed fibula, online since 03 Nov 2020, type: Fibulae (Germanic, Penkovsky and subsequent cultures), Material: tin bronze, Location: Ternopil Oblast, Sending lot to: Ukraine, sold for 296 UAH (9,40 EUR)
So, Catawiki "saw as provenance statement" and waved it through and it ended up in London with an anonymouse seller who makes all sorts of other claims about it, not involving a Ukrainian metal detectorist looting Early Medieval sites. The time surely is long overdue when the UK and international antiquities market and its buyers will face up to the responsibility of collecting only legally obtained and legally exported antiquities of verifiable origins without all the posing and spluttering "well he told us it was kosher and we trusted him!" Is that really too much to ask of them? Maybe until Catawiki begins to ask to see the actual excavation permits, title transfer for the artefacts and export documentation, instead of some cobbled-together "statement" replacing them, responsible buyers should look elsewhere.


No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.