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Jeff B.




Location: Germany
Joined: 09 Mar 2017

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon 27 Aug, 2018 4:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Nathan,

Thanks much for the feedback. Although I do not agree with most of it, I do respect your opinions and I can only hope that with the coming changes in Q4 that you will see improvements and you will change your mind about us.

Nathan Robinson wrote:
This topic is a mess.


Your right and I apologize for cluttering this thread up, but I hope it has helped in some small way.

Have a good one,
Jeff
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Michael P. Smith




Location: Muncie, Indiana
Joined: 11 Jul 2018
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 80

PostPosted: Mon 27 Aug, 2018 5:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff,

I don't think you are cluttering up the thread. I actually appreciate you coming here and putting yourself on the line.

I am curious as to why you had such seeming confidence in these pieces coming from one seller, with no provenance, in remarkably similar condition, despite claims to being from different periods. None of that seemed like a red flag to you? Just trying to understand your assessment process on these pieces while acknowledging I am no authority.


Last edited by Michael P. Smith on Tue 28 Aug, 2018 6:01 am; edited 2 times in total
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 27 Aug, 2018 11:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff,

I have some questions:

1) Do you have any formal qualifications specifically related to medieval arms and other arms?

2) Do you have any experience, formal or informal, going to European museums and carefully examining, handling, inspecting and evaluating known genuine specimens of antique medieval swords, weapons?

3) Beyond your experiences selling antiques and militaria, do you have any other specific skills and knowledge pertaining to known/confirmed specimens of medieval arms that do not fit into category #1 or #2 above?

The reason I ask is that you have identified yourself as an expert in medieval swords. Otherwise, it would not say "Expert: Jeff Browning" on the Catawiki Auctions for the aforementioned weapons. Yet, it's not clear to me what specific training or knowledge you have that allows you to carefully discern antique medieval weapons—but perhaps I am wrong, and you do have such expertise—hence why I asked the above questions.

Having dealt with weapons, antique, and militaria for 30 years in and of itself does not provide particularly strong support for expertise in medieval weapons. Given the amount of fake weapons available on the market, it’s likely that a good percentage of the ones you would have encountered would have been fakes. If you haven’t specifically developed expertise in this area (by expertise, I mean relating to experiences pertaining to questions 1-3, above) it’s going to be tough for you to discern from the artifacts alone. How would you know?

Moreover, it is concerning to me that a number of members on the myArmoury site were able to identify a number of questionable features about the swords in the auction, more than enough to call into question how authentic the artifacts are. That alone would warrant careful checking. The fact that several of us were able to discern these details while, presumably, you were not able to do so, calls into question how much knowledge you have of these weapons.

I realize that I am asking potentially provocative questions, ones that can be seen as calling into question your integrity. Yet there are larger things at stake here. Among others, Catawiki customers have paid over $31,850 USD for the various swords listed in the lots Xavier posted- and this sum is too little, as I did not bother to exchange the prices in Euros into USD, nor did I include the first sword listed as Xavier’s link was broken. All told, I would not be surprised if customers spent between $35,000 to $40,000 USD on items of dubious quality. That means that most if not all the customers were ripped off—and you were one of the important figures meant to protect them.

Secondly, there’s also the matter of your personal reputation and the reputation of Catawiki. Having seen this auction, I could not recommend Catawiki to friends or fellow arms enthusiasts. I would also, in fairness, have doubts about how much to rely upon your judgment in accurately discerning fake arms and other militaria. This may not exactly been fair—yet you were given the title of “Expert” by Catawiki for the auction.

If you genuinely know that you probably do not have enough knowledge to really carefully discern fakes from real swords, I would invite you to develop that knowledge. Invest the time and the resources to develop a keen eye. Your customers deserve it, and it will only serve you in the long term.
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Jeff B.




Location: Germany
Joined: 09 Mar 2017

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue 28 Aug, 2018 12:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael P. Smith wrote:
Jeff,

I don't think you are cluttering up the thread. I actually appreciate you coming here and putting yourself on the line.

I am curious as to why you had such seeming confidence in these pieces coming from one seller, with no provenance, in remarkably similar condition, despite claims to being from different periods. None of that seemed like a red flag to you? Just trying to understand your assessment process on these pieces while acknowledging I am no authority.


Hey Michael,

Sorry for the late replie, but I am stuck almost 20 hrs a day staring at my monitor reviewing lots.

Thanks for those kind words. I do not have a problem coming on public forums and explaining how we work or helping someone with a lot or what ever. I have nothing to hide or to be ashamed of and I sleep very well every night knowing that I give my 120% to this job every day. Hell I have not taken vacation or sick days in the 2 years that I have been here. The wifey tends to get a little PO'ed sometimes because I am always in shop mode..lol :-)

Yes I would be happy to explain. Unfortunately I can not remember every seller in our Militaria categories, or even in my weapons categories. I have 1000's of sellers alone in my weapons cat.'s., and this seller did not offer them all at one time. Had he done that then that would have set off the red flags. Also two of his swords were sold in our Archaeology (Medieval) category and there were no problems there either. So this is just one that got by us, and I feel really bad when it happens, but that is part of this job, along with getting yelled at.

Like I mentioned above these were really good fakes which was also stated in here in this thread. I am sure that this seller is either a Bladesmith or he has one that makes these for him. No matter now as I have taken care of him.

It was only with the help of this forum along with Xavier's email from Mr. Johnsson that I was able to finally catch this. So again thanks to everyone for you input and valuable info.

Thanks,
Jeff
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Jeff B.




Location: Germany
Joined: 09 Mar 2017

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue 28 Aug, 2018 1:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Jeff,

I have some questions: .


Thanks for your feedback, however I am sorry Craig, but I am not going to do my life history on this forum or any other forum for that matter. Nor will get into big debates on this. I have already hijacked this thread enough and I am sure Nathan wishes I would just shut up..lol :-) So I will just make a couple last remarks to your reply.

What I will comment on is the term "Expert" that you keep throwing around in such a negative way that really makes me feel like you are looking for a battle. Which I am not so sure why you even want all this as you have already made it clear that you do not do anything with Catawiki so then this all should not matter to you.

It was Catawiki and not me that gave me this title. I tend to shy away from that but that is my work title and that is what I must use. As far as I am concerned I am just a simple guy who loves guns and edged weapons, actually weapons of all kinds!

I think it is obvious to everyone that no one person could ever know all of the types of edged weapons that we get in. However we do our best and my network is large and have many people and places to ask if I do not know. But again this will never be 100% accurate, but please remember that if a mistake is made we will ALWAYS make it right to the best of our ability, and that alone should be assurance enough to use Catawiki.

You are entitled to you opinion and I respect them just as I do anyone's, however I would just ask that you please stick to the facts and not spread untruths without knowing all the facts first. Everyone has my email and if you want to contact me then please do, I will always listen and take action if necessary. You will not find that type of service on any other online auction platform! On the others you are lucky to get a real person to reply to your emails or your phone calls.

All I ask is that people try to help and not hurt, or make a mistake worse by pouring more negative into it, and instead try to be a part of the solution and help where possible. I also hope that when I have questions that I can get answers and not hurtful negativity.

Thanks again Craig and everyone for listening to me ramble, and have a good evening!,
Jeff
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Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Tue 28 Aug, 2018 2:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff B. wrote:
Craig Peters wrote:
Jeff,

I have some questions: .


Thanks for your feedback, however I am sorry Craig, but I am not going to do my life history on this forum or any other forum for that matter. Nor will get into big debates on this. I have already hijacked this thread enough and I am sure Nathan wishes I would just shut up..lol :-) So I will just make a couple last remarks to your reply.


Actually no, I don't wish you'd shut up. I am as curious as anyone as to what methodology for authentication and valuation Catwiki uses. Further, like Craig, I'm curious as to your qualifications, experience and background. I feel that these are reasonable things and not particularly challenging, frankly.

Quote:
You are entitled to you opinion and I respect them just as I do anyone's, however I would just ask that you please stick to the facts and not spread untruths without knowing all the facts first.


Questions were asked. Untruths have not been spread. Speculation and questions have certainly been thrown around and that seems reasonable given that no answers have been forthcoming. It's hard to spread facts when questions are being avoided.

Quote:
All I ask is that people try to help and not hurt, or make a mistake worse by pouring more negative into it, and instead try to be a part of the solution and help where possible. I also hope that when I have questions that I can get answers and not hurtful negativity.


Giving you an opportunity and platform to clarify your position within the company and the methodologies you employ is an attempt to be part of a positive solution. I'd suggest grabbing that and running with it. It seems very unusual to me not to take advantage of that opportunity.

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 29 Aug, 2018 4:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff B. wrote:
Craig Peters wrote:
Jeff,

I have some questions: .


Thanks for your feedback, however I am sorry Craig, but I am not going to do my life history on this forum or any other forum for that matter. Nor will get into big debates on this. I have already hijacked this thread enough and I am sure Nathan wishes I would just shut up..lol :-) So I will just make a couple last remarks to your reply.

What I will comment on is the term "Expert" that you keep throwing around in such a negative way that really makes me feel like you are looking for a battle. Which I am not so sure why you even want all this as you have already made it clear that you do not do anything with Catawiki so then this all should not matter to you.

It was Catawiki and not me that gave me this title. I tend to shy away from that but that is my work title and that is what I must use. As far as I am concerned I am just a simple guy who loves guns and edged weapons, actually weapons of all kinds!


I would disagree that I am throwing around "expert" in a negative way. "Expert" does imply certain qualities. If, for instance, Catawiki cites you as an expert for a number of auctions selling medieval arms, customers will assume that part of your specific expertise is in weapons from this period. The customers will expect that you have plenty of knowledge concerning whatever antique weapon you are representing as an expert, since the main reason to have experts is to have people who are qualified to evaluate real weapons from fakes.

This is why I was asking questions regarding your specific expertise. I take it, from your response, that your answer to question 1, 2, and 3, is "I do not have such experience".

Whether or not I would buy from Catawiki or recommend it is irrelevant. You have a responsibility, and an obligation, to all of your customers to look out for their best interests and to protect them against fraud. In this case, they have been let down by you and the other experts in a situation that would have been certainly possible for you to avoid, if you had specific, relevant expertise.

Quote:
I think it is obvious to everyone that no one person could ever know all of the types of edged weapons that we get in. However we do our best and my network is large and have many people and places to ask if I do not know. But again this will never be 100% accurate, but please remember that if a mistake is made we will ALWAYS make it right to the best of our ability, and that alone should be assurance enough to use Catawiki.


Indeed, it's obvious to everyone, and no one has asked to you to know all types of edged weapons. However, it is reasonable to expect that you have enough knowledge to carefully discern genuine medieval swords from fakes, regardless of whether you have the title of "expert" or not, as that was the role you played.

You can't be a generalist when it comes to antique arms and then reliably evaluate any antique weapons. It doesn't work like that. If I am a researcher in cell biology, then I probably shouldn't be publishing papers in ecology without having developed sufficient knowledge, competence and expertise in the latter area of study. Likewise, you can only reliably discern antique weapons that you have enough specific knowledge and skill to evaluate. This is more than reasonable to ask.

Quote:

You are entitled to you opinion and I respect them just as I do anyone's, however I would just ask that you please stick to the facts and not spread untruths without knowing all the facts first. Everyone has my email and if you want to contact me then please do, I will always listen and take action if necessary. You will not find that type of service on any other online auction platform! On the others you are lucky to get a real person to reply to your emails or your phone calls.

All I ask is that people try to help and not hurt, or make a mistake worse by pouring more negative into it, and instead try to be a part of the solution and help where possible. I also hope that when I have questions that I can get answers and not hurtful negativity.


As Nathan rightly pointed out, I'm not being negative. Even in light of the fact that you have provided no specific evidence for expertise in medieval swords and armour, I will still recommend that you make a sincere effort to strengthen and develop your knowledge: a positive solution. In fairness, if you were one of the customers who had been mislead, you would expect the same from whoever was the expert in the auction. That's all I ask.
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James T





Joined: 17 Jul 2018

Posts: 17

PostPosted: Wed 29 Aug, 2018 8:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I HAVE THE XRF!

I have 24 hours to use this thing. I have 2 medieval / viking age swords that I will analyze when I get home tonight. The Viking Age sword I'm 90% sure is the real thing (I'm actually 100% but don't want to seem biased). The medieval age sword I'm less than 20% sure it's the real thing and it looks very very similar to the ones at the beginning of this thread. I'll be using it tonight to check the chemical composition. Here's what I'm planning to do. I'm curious if you guys have other ideas on what to look for.

1. Check Phosphorus levels. Bloomery iron should have more Phosphorus than a modern day iron.
2. Check Manganese levels. A Modern day iron should have more Manganese as it's added to pretty much all iron.
3. Check variations in elements throughout the length of the blade and the guards. A modern day iron should be very consistent throughout the length of the blade and guards, where a sword made from bloomery iron shouldn't be as consistent throughout the length and the guards.

The XRF has an alloy library built in so it tells you what alloy of metal you are looking at. I've already tested it on some aluminum, stainless steel, and carbon steel here at work and it was dead on.

Let me know if you have any other ideas on what to look for.

Thanks,
James
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Zach Gordon




Location: Vermont. USA
Joined: 07 Oct 2008

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 231

PostPosted: Wed 29 Aug, 2018 1:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James T,

I really appreciate this, as I think it will prove very illuminating. I presume the eBay sword like these, has little provenance.. but the other viking sword you are testing against that you are 90% sure of, do you have any provenance or anything? Would love to see photos of both swords, if possible!


Jeff B,

I have a good friend who works at Christie's, I note that his term is 'Specialist' not 'Expert'.. to me, this designation is interesting. Stamping 'expert' identification on Catawiki is a bold statement, I believe that is why there is such a strong response.

Further, in regards to methodology, what I do not understand is why you are taking in items with ZERO provenance. Even if something is real (as some of these swords may be), that does not mean that they are licit. They could be recent archaeological thefts, or stolen from a person/organisation. How do you guys touch these items without any backbone of provenance?

Best,
Z
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James T





Joined: 17 Jul 2018

Posts: 17

PostPosted: Wed 29 Aug, 2018 6:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I finished the XRF Analysis on my swords. I went ahead and started a new thread, just because it's kind of it's own subject. Just search for the X-Ray Fluorescence subject or XRF. The results were very interesting for the medieval sword mentioned above. I figured it was a fake based on this thread, however now I think it might be legit. Is there a metallurgist in the house? Please check the new thread and tell me what you think. Thanks!!!

James
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Hardy Salna




Location: UK
Joined: 11 Dec 2018

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri 14 Dec, 2018 6:47 am    Post subject: Fake items flood Catawiki auction         Reply with quote

Dear Xavier,

Unfortunately, it does not surprise me that there are many fakes on Catawiki. My experience shows that the so-called expert auctioneers have no expertise in their respective fields on many occasions at all.
They cannot distinguish real items from fake. Sometimes it seems they have no idea about what they are doing, and their price estimates have nothing to do with the reality.
Recently I read an article on smartshoppingschool.com and it correlates with my experience. It shows how unprofessional these "expert" auctioneers are. Although this article is mainly about jewelry and gemstones it gives a very good insight into how those "experts" work. It cannot be excluded that they benefit from allowing sales of fake items...

Best regards, H.S.
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