The authenticity of an individual artifact is determined by a number of factors:
Source: The original source of the artifact is of primary importance and can tell you a great deal about the age, and authenticity. Our agent in Israel is a well-known and respected dealer and is licensed by the Israeli Antiquities Authority. He is a very knowledgeable archaeologist in his own right and is currently extending his study at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. 99% of our antiquities and coins are supplied by this dealer. This provides us with a level of certainty regarding the authenticity of antiquities that is not available to persons buying from non licensed sources. It is also of interest that the only country in the world that currently allows the licensed sales of antiquities is Israel.
Provenance: The previous ownership of an antiquity is also a very good indicator of authenticity, particularly if the item has been handled through public auction or exhibited in a museum as both of these sources take great care in authentication of antiquities. Many high priced items (US$10,000+) come with a well documented history of ownership. We are proud to be able to offer antiquities previously exhibited in The Museum of Biblical Archeology in Ohio, USA (Closed) and also Venus Galleries in Jerusalem, Israel.
References: Many artifacts that find their way to the market come without either a good source or good provenance. These items may therefore require a reference source to determine the parameters of the following: Design Type, Material or Construction, Similarities to well known and documented artifacts. We have a vast library of books dedicated to referencing the thousands of items we handle each year. Our key dealer who also has considerable resources and our associate dealers in the USA and UK also extend this capability. In addition to this referencing, we retain a relationship with of the most knowledgeable local experts in ancient coins through Noble Numismatics in Sydney to assist us on authentication of either difficult or high value coins.
Market Knowledge: Many artifacts in the low price areas (under US$500) are sold or traded without certified authenticity and are subject to questionable claims. This is the area that you are most probably questioning. Authenticity in this area of the market is determined by the above factors (if available) in addition to the following indicators: Patina (the aged coating on the artifact, normally viewed under high magnification). The location of the find and other articles found adjacent to the find. The similarity the item exhibits to other items found belonging to the same era. The type of object, weight, method of manufacture and markings all help to assist a dealer to make a knowledgeable judgment on authenticity. The majority of dealers will not offer certification of artifacts sold under US$200 due to the low probability of forgery. This is ok provided the dealer still offers a money back guarantee on all items sold. We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee (21 days) and a lifetime guarantee of authenticity, so buying off us is safe and reliable.
Professional Memberships and Ethics: I suppose it is easy for someone to say that they will do certain things and agree to be reasonable. But what happens after the sale if you are not happy and to whom can you complain? We are members of three important Professional Bodies and Associations, The American Numismatic Association and agree to abide by their rules and be subject to mediation if required. We are also members of the Victorian Anthropology and Archaeological Society and The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild. We have a website for antiquities at Trocadero and are members of this internationally respected community. We are also members of seven discussion boards on antiquities, ancient coins, fakes and forgeries etc. When buying ancient coins or antiquities, it is always a wise move, to enquire about the persons credentials. Someone who is selling an old collection is very different from someone who claims to be a dealer or professional. Dealers will always (or at least should) belong to an association. This provides an avenue for recourse, should you be unhappy with your purchase and also provides a source of relevant and up to date information for building a dealers knowledge base.
So in conclusion, authenticity of low value objects is reliant on the integrity of the dealer and his source. High value antiquities and coins can be authenticated by Museums and Professional Authenticity Experts, these are difficult to source in Australia. Many high value ancient coins are sent overseas for authentication by experts like David Hendin (Biblical and Judean Coins) and David Sear (Greek & Roman Coins).
Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can assist you with anything covered in this guide. I will also be happy to answer other general questions relating to Antiquities or Ancient Coins. Please don't forget to visit our store. Thanks Bruce Munday (Archeology Pty Ltd)
Our Store Archeology Pty Ltd
Authentication of Antiquities & Ancient Coins Guideline
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20 December 2005
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