1. We accept that as ethical purchasers we have a general duty of care towards the British archaeological resource which is both finite and fragile. We see proper enquiry as integral to this duty and follow the well documented mantra: “The Good Collector casts a jaded eye upon those dealers who insist that their reputation take the place of details of provenance”.

  2. We recognise that the British system is unique in that what is protected by law elsewhere is often only subject to voluntary arrangements in Britain and this imposes additional duties of care upon us: we hold ourselves obliged as ethical purchasers to buy only if voluntary requirements have been met and not to regard legality as an adequate measure of ethicality.
  3. We will never buy anything we know or suspect is a recent British “dug-up” unless: (a.) it has been reported to PAS (and has a legitimate PAS reference number), (b.) any Treasure Act and export requirements have been complied with and (c.) the landowner upon whose land the item was found is aware of the item and the price and consents to its sale.

  4. We will always establish, through enquiries to PAS or the local archaeological curator or both, that the circumstances of the recovery and the location of the find spot have raised no concerns regarding damage to or lost information from the British archaeological resource.

The above is a template and has three purposes:

  1. To point up the fact that the British archaeological Establishment has not produced sorely needed detailed guidance for the purchase of British portable antiquities.

  2. To inform collectors (particularly in the States) who are often ill-informed (and constantly misinformed by dealers) about what ethical purchasing of British Portable Antiquities entails.

  3. To promote the belief that in Britain where most detecting is legal but subject to voluntary reporting, the would-be ethical purchaser must not only avoiding buying looted artefacts but far more urgently must avoid buying recently unearthed but unreported artefacts.

COMMENTS : ethicalcollecting@gmail.com

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