Tuesday, 11 August 2020

UK "Antiquities" Dealer Seems not to Like my Work [Updated]

A dealer whose anonymous website and social media 'contributions' [on antiquities and how wonderful the antiquities trade actually is and how super collectors are]  claims to have read a text of mine on the trade in North African lithics within hours of it going online. That's keenness for you. Here is their anonymous verdict:
 
 Oh well, you can't please them all. There is no real explanation of why it is "nonsense" to analyse open source data in this way, and I really do not understand the comment "at eBay prices, trade in genuine ancient North African lithics is unviable. Consider the economics!". Is the seller claiming that all the pieces are fake? I discuss this question. I discuss the eBay prices, the economics and scale of the trade, and I attempt to follow how many are sold in what time span. Certainly the material is selling "at eBay prices", so I really don't know what the comment was supposed to mean. Neither is it clear how "obscure" a journal is that not only exists in paper form and present in many European academic libraries (that's what it's published for), but can be accessed free of charge anywhere where there is internet access.

Antiquities Online is a trading arm of Ancient Relics ("Old World Antiquities, Precolumbian Art and Historical Collectables"). And if you want to see what kind of a posh gallery space they display their artefacts in, google their address: Suite 25, 151 High Street, Southampton, Hampshire SO14 2BT, United Kingdom. What a dump. PACHI believes this grumpy old dealer wannabe is Guy Rothwell ("Old school adventurer and lover of history and all the wonderful weird eccentricities of life. Old Caterhamian, Bachelor of Science, Doctor of Philosophy, owner of Antiquities Online Ancient Art Gallery"), but it's  not clear from the website itself who is behind it (so much for "reputable dealers" when you cant even work out who that dealer is). The use of social media is rather typical of antiquities dealers, they all do much the same, a great deal of repetition, mostly reposting other people's stuff, attacking critics of the market, very little original content. It looks like their social media account is just there so the account owner can say they are there... There is also however a rather inactive blog (8 posts all from last year): "Collecting antiquities - a long and honourable tradition", the usual stuff too.

Anyway, don't take a dealer's word for it (don't take an antiquities dealer's word for anything!) read my text on the trade in North African lithics and see for yourselves, comments always welcome, substantive ones even more so. 

Update 12 Aug 2020
The meaning behind "at eBay prices, trade in genuine ancient North African lithics is unviable. Consider the economics" was revealed in a later tweet.
Antiquities Online@AncientRelics · 10 g.   W odpowiedzi do @PortantIssues
You note majority of NA 'Neolithic' arrowheads sell at $1-3 each! Consider dealer needs profit, middlemen need profit, finders need recompense and collecting expeditions and international transport needs finance. At eBay prices, trade in GENIUNE ancient NA arrowheads not viable.
Yet, it actually goes on, despite Mr Rothwell's disbelief. So really, since we know it goes on, the question is how? It's not true that, as this dealer apparently wants to tell his clients, only high-priced antiquities are real. He seems to ignore that this really depends on how they are obtained, from whom, how exploitatively, and in what quantities. Also of course one of the appeals of collecting artefacts like these is the affordability. Also, if Guy Rothwell had actually read the article rather than just the title and the bit about prices (money, money, money) some of his doubts might have been answered.

Apples also have a low unit cost, yet commercial orchards thrive.  

And when we look at the gentleman's website and see the prices he's asking for his North African artefacts, we might understand his disquiet that I give teh range of priices most other dealers offer artefacts of certain types for... I'd also draw attention to a certain quartzite Middle Palaeolithic cordi[form] handaxe he has there for the upper price range I identified in my ("nonsense") paper... the dealer says it has "some smoothing due to exposure to the desert winds", I suggest he looks again. The one from Nigeria... Look also at which ones have cited provenances and try and group those that do not. Do you see a pattern here? Look at the ones with dark patinas, why have so few of them got a collecting history at all, when these in particular should?   



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