This week we wrote to Charles Hanson, TV valuer and proprietor of Hansons Auctioneers asking “Are any of the Greek arrowheads (Lot 3) you are currently auctioning looted?”. We got no answer. All we are left with is that they were being sold with “an old dealer’s ticket”, which of course means nothing.

It got us thinking: isn’t most of the antiquities trade, especially British metal detecting, underpinned by meaningless assurances? Every detectorist tells farmers they are responsible and PAS tells everyone that’s nearly always true. But those are words not facts and are often proved false.

So who benefits from flawed assurances? Not farmers if they are bamboozled and stolen from. Not people at auctions if they are misled. Not the public if their cultural knowledge is lost. No, the beneficiaries are a tiny group with a big financial interest: auctioneers, dealers and detectorists. How much better off the vast majority of people would be if we saw honesty like this:

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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