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Alex D Aspinall




Location: UK
Joined: 19 May 2019

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sat 25 May, 2019 2:20 am    Post subject: Authentication/Provenance etc         Reply with quote

Sorry if this has been discussed before, but briefly.

Im about to make a purchase, an old Roman arms artifact from a dealer in the UK. I wont mention the dealers name.

They are listed as LAPADA, CINOA, ADA, BNTA...…..registered,

Having seen so many fakes and reproductions in my own field, and now noticing many fakes and reproductions in my new interest, I cant help but wonder if what im buying is what it says on the tin (so to speak)

Item comes with a certificate of authentication.

Am I being over cautious?, considering their credentials?.

The item is not so expensive, talking 100,s, not £1000,s

Appreciate any assistance.
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Lee O'Hagan




Location: Northamptonshire,England
Joined: 30 Sep 2003
Likes: 5 pages

Posts: 514

PostPosted: Mon 27 May, 2019 2:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Alex,
If you already have doubts,,,,,,,
is it an independant authentication with comeback on the firm etc,
alot of these memberships are paid for, ?
ot, but a great example being check a trade.com
pay your £350 and your bigged up no matter how bad you are,
with no mention of seller or shop no real opinion can be given,
will they return your money if its proven to be non legite ?
as you wont mention the seller,
picture the item, some very clued up people on here that will have seen the best and worst of the Roman stuff,
i'm not one of them, Wink
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Alex D Aspinall




Location: UK
Joined: 19 May 2019

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Mon 27 May, 2019 9:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply Lee.

It can be difficult sometimes posting items on forums, never quite know whos toes your standing on, maybe a consignee here or elsewhere, maybe even the seller is a member here. Also, from experience on other antiques forums, if an object is presented for scrutiny then there are always varied opinions on whether it authentic or not, unless obvious.

The item comes with a "guarantee", so I assume that includes a no quibble return should it later be found to be fake, but I will need to check later. If not, then I wont buy it.

According to their website, it came from a German collection and they have their own experts to verify.

The item is a pommel from a Roman knife, in he form of a cast bronze eagle. From what I can gather, these were pretty common. Ive seen a few variations on the internet. Its small at around 4cm and has a nice brown even patina showing some wear and a few encrustations on the outside and on the inner. Said to be 1st to 3rd AD. Ithas two fixing holes.

As I cant find any other exact examples on the internet, I would think this is good news.

Im always cautious buying new items, I see so much questionable stuff in my own field, even from "reputable" sellers looking for naïve newbies to unload their mistakes on.

When I receive the item, I might post it here, or maybe a very experienced Roman expert could pm me for a few pointers.

Appreciate the reply.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,353

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2019 5:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wouldn't buy it. A "certificate of authenticity" is a standard feature that every scammer uses, knowing that there is virtually no way to "prove" that an item is *not* what they claim it is. There is always some suggestion that a museum or university will be happy to magically scan your artifact and authenticate it for you, but they actually don't do things like that. Nor can they, really, there are simply too many little pieces of stuff that turn up everywhere that no curator or other authority really has has expertise with. (Museums misidentify and mislabel artifacts all the time!)

Plus, *assuming* they will give you a refund in any case is a bad idea, unless they state their conditions very clearly!

For a Roman eagle-headed knife pommel, I am doubly suspicious. Domestic knives are VERY common, but never had pommels. Military daggers (notably the pugio) did not have eagle-head pommels, either. Sword pommels were invariably organic (wood, bone, ivory), and the only ones that have turned up with bronze pommels are glaring fakes.

Without a photo, it's impossible to tell what this particular item might have been. But little knobs and pommels are pretty common items in much more recent history, so it could be from a flagpole or walking stick. It could even be a pommel from the 18th or 19th century, or from a more modern Masonic sword or dirk.

The only way I would even consider buying an artifact is if I could immediately identify it on sight, and be able to get a good enough look at it that I could tell it wasn't just a "Made in India" piece with some aging and dirt added. For example, I once saw an item for sale that was identified as a Roman mirror handle. Well it was quite obviously the handle from a patera (saucepan or mess pan), and I'd seen photos and drawings of hundreds of them, so I could tell instantly that it wasn't one of the pathetic Indian-made attempts on the market.

Sorry about that! It just screams "FAKE" to me. And over-priced even if it *were* authentic.

Matthew
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,311

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2019 7:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreed with Matt. A certificate of authentication isn't worth the paper it is printed on. If they don't have the full provenance of the item then they can't guarantee whether it is authentic or not.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Alex D Aspinall




Location: UK
Joined: 19 May 2019

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2019 7:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Mathew, appreciate you taking the time to reply.

Looking online, ive found a number of examples, rams heads, wolves etc.

I came across this at auction
https://timelineauctions.com/lot/eagle-handled-knife/135469/

And this https://medusa-art.com/roman-bronze-eagle-pommel.html

And another

Are all these fakes ?, learning curve here.

Cheers



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Alex D Aspinall




Location: UK
Joined: 19 May 2019

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2019 8:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Forgot say,

Just been told they are adding details of where this came from, a German collection.

Ive stumbled across another that was at auction, very similar, but now lost that page
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,353

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2019 9:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alex D Aspinall wrote:
Hi Mathew, appreciate you taking the time to reply.

Looking online, ive found a number of examples, rams heads, wolves etc.


Oh, I don't doubt it! Popular motif for thousands of years. Including the last 2 centuries.

Quote:
I came across this at auction
https://timelineauctions.com/lot/eagle-handled-knife/135469/


Glaring fake. Bright orange blade (*active* rust) that is otherwise intact, bright green solid bronze hilt--these are all over the place, and not one matches any known *excavated* example.

Quote:
And this https://medusa-art.com/roman-bronze-eagle-pommel.html


Same problem with the item you first described, Roman knives and daggers simply did not have pommels like that. This could easily be from an umbrella or walking stick.

Quote:
And another

Are all these fakes ?, learning curve here.


Same questions. Note that "From a German collection" means nothing, really. Collected from where? Artifacts have been dug up randomly since the Stone Age, literally, and probably faked for just as long. Or at least wildly misidentified, willfully or otherwise.

Note that there certainly *are* genuine artifacts on the market with useless "provenances", so it really pays to know your material!

Matthew
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Alex D Aspinall




Location: UK
Joined: 19 May 2019

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2019 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cheers, appreciated.

Well, that's me done with Roman artifacts lol

Il stick to what I know.

Thanks
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,353

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2019 10:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, don't stop *looking*! But better to learn from more educational sites, rather than the dealers who just want your money. And of course excavation reports are a great place to learn, but they can be obscure, hard to find, and expensive.

Matthew
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Alex D Aspinall




Location: UK
Joined: 19 May 2019

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2019 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeh, should always start with an education, easy to be impulsive (for me)
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Hadrian Coffin
Industry Professional



Location: Oxford, England
Joined: 03 Apr 2008

Posts: 391

PostPosted: Sat 01 Jun, 2019 4:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is one other thing to add, in regards to provenance (and I currently teach a university course on ‘Provenance and Collecting’).. just because an item is ‘authentic’.. without the trading history from the point of discovery to the point of sale, the item is likely illegal. Be very, very, wary of items that just say “ex German collection”, what is the proof? If it is an antiquity, you need to also (often) prove it was discovered and sold into private collection prior to the 1970 UNESCO convention on Cultural Heritage Protection.

Often these terms, “ex old collection”/etc, are just there to absolve the seller of prosecution when dealing with illicit material. So just looking and going “that’s real!” isn’t the end of the story. There are also task forces with Interpol, the United Nations, the MET Police, the FBI, the Carabinieri, the US Department of Homeland Security, etc.. that can (and will) come after both buyers and sellers. It is great career advancement, because even a £50 Roman pin sounds sensational in the news “Police Arrest buyer of Ancient Roman Artefacts in the UK”.

It is also just not something you want to be involved with, because it promotes site looting (even indirectly). The market creates demand. Think of the police approach to Child Pornography —going after the consumer helps to reduce the market, and, ultimately, protect the victim. Most buyers of illicitly obtained artefacts see themselves of ‘guardians of history’, they don’t want to recognise the fact that they are contributing to archaeological looting, but they are.

That’s not to say there isn’t a legal, and valuable, licit market —there is! It just means one must be very careful, and thoroughly understand what he is buying, and from whom, and what the provenance of the item is, all the way back to the point it was removed from the ground (or at least to 1970, in most cases).

Best,
Hadrian

Historia magistra vitae est
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Hadrian Coffin
Industry Professional



Location: Oxford, England
Joined: 03 Apr 2008

Posts: 391

PostPosted: Sat 01 Jun, 2019 4:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If people are interested, I would recommend looking at the Trafficking and Culture Centre at The University of Glasgow. Or reading some of the work by Dr. Simon Mackenzie, at the Victoria University of Wellington.

This site also has some good information: https://traffickingculture.org/

I am not as hardline as many others, I think we should be allowed private ownership, and there is a thriving and valuable market for licit antiquities. We just need to be legally, and morally, careful.

Best,
Hadrian

Historia magistra vitae est
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Alex D Aspinall




Location: UK
Joined: 19 May 2019

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sun 02 Jun, 2019 3:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Hadrian for the reply.

Funnily enough, that's something ive been thinking about over the last few weeks.

I watched an auction this week online with 1000,s of items, most of which stated "from an old collection" etc, with not much other details, I was wondering that if I actually purchased an item then would it come with further details ? but assuming that's unlikely.

Viking spear heads, Bronze spearheads etc etc, difficult to know whether genuine, and then comes the concern about where they came from (if authentic)

Is there a list of dealers that are more likely to sell items with documented provenance ?.

I see so many sites selling Roman, Viking, Saxon, Greek and so on. Actually saw one item that was quite expensive on a particular site (listed as authentic), then an identical piece on Ebay that was in bargain basement pricing, so obviously a repro.

The piece I bought, I sent back within an hour of opening the box, thanks to help from members here. I don't know much about these artifacts, but in hand it appeared to be a bit of a ? with strange green patina in places and condition looked too good, certainly not around 2000 years old. I contacted the seller about it and they were very polite, but they didn't want to get involved with a discussion about the piece. They just said "we are members of this and that and abide by strict scrutiny", but what I really wanted was for them to prove themselves correct with the description, but all I got was "send it back and we will refund you". Its now back up for sale. One think that I noticed in their returns policy was that they actually sell items for private collectors, they didn't mention this to start with.

Anyways, there where a few items in the auction that l liked, a medieval arrowhead, a greek arrowhead, but unfortunately I was at work so could not bid. Ended up bidding on something totally different from arms, a small bronze Roman bull. It didn't cost much, but looked like it had been buried for a 2000 years and appears authentic. Apparently this was from a collection from a guy down south, wonder if il get much else info ?, il see.

Thanks for the replies, appreciated.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,311

PostPosted: Sun 02 Jun, 2019 8:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd rather own replicas. What is the point of a rusty lump of metal? Better to have the item as it looked when it was actually being used. My favourite museum displays are the ones that have the original item looking as it did when first dug out of the ground and along side it there is a reconstruction of the item as it looked when it was first made.

If there is an alleged antique on an auction site that interests me, I'll only bid what I would be prepared to pay for a replica. That way it doesn't matter whether the item is authentic or not.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Joe A




Location: Philadelphia, USA
Joined: 17 Oct 2013

Posts: 68

PostPosted: Sun 02 Jun, 2019 12:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
I'd rather own replicas. What is the point of a rusty lump of metal? Better to have the item as it looked when it was actually being used. My favourite museum displays are the ones that have the original item looking as it did when first dug out of the ground and along side it there is a reconstruction of the item as it looked when it was first made.

If there is an alleged antique on an auction site that interests me, I'll only bid what I would be prepared to pay for a replica. That way it doesn't matter whether the item is authentic or not.


I agree with Dan from an aesthetic pov. A lump of rusty iron or bent up bronze plate just doesn't do it for me even if it's 100% ancient with a rock solid legal provenance. Museum storages are full of such pieces.

We are in a period awash in looted antiquities from places that were once important regions of Greek and Roman Empires.

A big question today is what to do with all that looted material? Some of it is quite important. As looted objects do we shun all that and allow it to disappear into private collections never to be analyzed or appreciated by the public? By a public that feels those objects are an important part of OUR ancient heritage regardless of modern political boundaries. Do we want to see those objects left to gather dust in some far off curio shop or worse destroyed by folks who don't appreciate anything Western?

It's a hard question as the objects are already looted and can't be placed back into the ground.
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Alex D Aspinall




Location: UK
Joined: 19 May 2019

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Tue 04 Jun, 2019 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,

I don't mind modern reproductions, so long as they are made with traditional methods. I own a few Shinsakuto (modern) swords and its good to see a sword as it should be, without wear that comes with older swords. A few things though, selling them can be a pain, and with the government the way it is in the uk with regards blades recently, shipping can also be a pain sometimes. I guess that goes for any bladed weapon, but at least a clear antique tariff code makes life easier for older stuff. Its the cheap non traditional swords in circulation that give older swords a bad name.
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