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John Clark writes:

>1 despair that almost NONE of these objects are given findspots, and have
>presumably lost any provenance information

Findspots are mentioned for about 17% of the artefacts (I didn't look at
the coins). One of these is said to be "recorded" (AS buckle, Kilham, E.
Yorks). Sometimes just a county is given in the ad. There might be more
info on the ticket.

The most recorded category was "Stone Age" (57%)

The least recorded category was "Roman" (4%)

This is what one would expect if traditional (c. 19th. cent.) collecting
and recording habits have been maintained. Collectors have recorded most
find spots of stone tools and write these on either a gummed paper label or
in ink directly on the tool. Collectors of Roman material seem less
interested in provenance (probably because of the more widespread nature of
Roman artefacts caused by trade, travel etc.)

>2 fear that FEW if any of them have been reported to a local finds liaison
>officer or museum for recording (the Henry VI badge for example 'found in
>the river Thames' - if it was found in the last 20 years it should have been
>reported to the Museum of London under a Port of London Authority by-law -
>I've just checked, and we have no record of it).  Not that one scruffy Henry
>VI badge will add much to the total of human knowledge - it's the principle
>of recording everything that will ensure more important objects are spotted
>in time for their significance to be recognised and (for example) reveal
>regional variations.

It would not surprise me that few would know of this by-law, or even
imagine that something found at low tide on Canvey Island, or dredged out
of the Thames in Oxford would be subject to a Port of London Authority by-law.

The other points are fears, worries, etc. without any justifying evidence.

Vilifying collectors and dealers, instead of trying to work with them is
the real problem. Collectors hear archaeologists say that an artefact
without provenance or the context of other artefacts is worthless. Because
they know that this is not true, they have little respect either for these
archaeologists' intelligence or for their honesty. Thus a wider gulf ensues.

Some regions are better than others -- I think Norfolk still has the best
record for reporting -- it certainly has the most responsible dealer: Chris
Rudd.


Regards,

John

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