Skip to main content

Market values and inflation

My posting on the Roman horse and rider found just outside Cambridge has prompted a few interesting (private) comments. The piece was sold on May 1, 2008 for £10,200. I added:
The piece can remain in Britain if a purchaser is willing to acquire it "at the recommended price of £22,066.81"
So although market forces in May 2008 suggested that the piece was worth £10,200, its present owner (a client of TimeLine Originals) places a higher value on it. (I am grateful to Brett Hammond for confirming this today.)

Then consider the fourteenth century astrolabe quadrant "Found during an archaeological watching brief in Canterbury by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust in 2005"; elsewhere, "It was found in 2005, associated with other medieval material on the site of an earlier inn just outside Canterbury Westgate on the road to London." It was then sold at Bonhams for £138,000 in March 2007 (see BBC News). A temporary export bar was placed on the astrolabe (see "Time ticks on rescue of rare 14th century pocket astrolabe quadrant", DCMS Press Release). The new price was much higher: "at the recommended price of £350,000 excluding VAT". It was saved for the nation thanks to grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (£125,000) (press release), The Art Fund (£50,000), and the British Museum Friends (£175,000). The Art Fund website gives the vendor as Trevor Philip and Sons Ltd.

Let me give another example, the gold coin of Coenwulf, king of Mercia "Discovered by a metal detector user near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire in 2001." The piece was then sold for £230,000 at Spinks (see BBC News). Its export was halted (see "Culture Minister Defers Export Of Rare Gold Coin", DCMS Press Release) and the coin was saved for the nation in 2006 for a sum of £357,832 (see BBC News). This included support from The National Heritage Memorial Fund (£225,000) (Press Release) and The Art Fund (£60,000). The coin was purchased from Davissons Ltd.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Codename: Ainsbrook

I have been watching (UK) Channel 4's Time Team this evening. The programme looked at an undisclosed field (under a potato crop) where a Viking burial had been found. The location in Yorkshire was so sensitive that it was given a codename: Ainsbrook. Here is the summary:
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface – a collection of Viking material next to a body. Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.The programme explored the tension between metal-detectorists and the English Heritage sponsored archaeologists putting six trenches into the field based on a geo-physical survey. Finds made by the metal-detectorists did not easily map onto the archaeological features.

Part of the programme had an …

George Ortiz collection to be displayed in London

Christie's is due to display part of the former collection of the late George Ortiz in London in a non-selling show to mark the 25th anniversary of the exhibition at the Royal Academy. There is a statement on the Christie's website ("The Ortiz Collection — ‘proof that the past is in all of us’"). Max Bernheimer is quoted: ‘Ortiz was one of the pre-eminent collectors of his day’.

We recall the associations with Ortiz such as the Horiuchi sarcophagus, the Hestiaios stele fragment, the marble funerary lekythos, and the Castor and Pollux.

Bernheimer will, no doubt, wish to reflect on the Royal Academy exhibition by reading Christopher Chippindale and David W. J. Gill. 2000. "Material consequences of contemporary classical collecting." American Journal of Archaeology 104: 463-511 [JSTOR].

Bernheimer will probably want to re-read the two pieces by Peter Watson that appeared in The Times: , "Ancient art without a history" and "Fakes - the artifice b…

Tutankhamun, Christie's and rigorous due dligence

It was announced today that the Egyptian authorities would be taking legal action against Christie's over the sale of the head of Tutankhamun ("Egypt to sue Christie's to retrieve £4.7m Tutankhamun bust", BBC News 9 July 2019).

The BBC reports:
Egypt's former antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, said the bust appeared to have been "stolen" in the 1970s from the Temple of Karnak. "The owners have given false information," he told AFP news agency. "They have not shown any legal papers to prove its ownership." Christie's maintain the history of the piece as follows:
It stated that Germany's Prince Wilhelm von Thurn und Taxis reputedly had it in his collection by the 1960s, and that it was acquired by an Austrian dealer in 1973-4. However the family of von Thurn und Taxis claim that the head was never in that collection [see here].

Christie's reject any hint of criticism:
"Christie's would not and do not sell any work whe…