Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What the Collecting Community is really Up Against

I made this post to my blog relating to the new German cultural property legislation:

In a post to his blog, Paul Barford then had some nasty, snarky things to say which were subsequently addressed in an update to my original post. Barford then revealed his true ultra-Socialist, or perhaps actually Communist, colors in this post which everyone who is inclined to pay attention to him should first read and understand:

"A respectable dealer will deal only in objects where he or she can demonstrate licit origins. "They can't touch you for it-legitimacy" is no legitimacy at all. So I invite readers to examine Dealer Dave's atavistic "award winning website" to see what they think that award was for if not for the presentation of collecting histories."

This is an overt demand for proof of licit origin, with a declaration that any artifact for which documented proof of licit origin is not available is to be presumed to be illicit.

Let's be clear about this: If Mr. Barford's ideas are accepted, even more stringent burdens of proof would fall upon collectors than this new German law dares to impose upon German collectors.

By this overt and utterly unreasonable demand, Mr. Barford has clearly exposed himself as being the deadly enemy of every antiquities collector and ancient coin collector worldwide, and every "shopkeeper" such as myself in the trade that serves them.

There has never been any understanding at all of the realities of collecting, or of the trade, in Mr. Barford's thinking, which I have confronted and (after an initial inclination toward friendly sympathy with his viewpoint) realized that I absolutely must oppose, for the past decade. It is "archaeology vs. collecting" with no room at all for the survival of collecting.

Why, I ask, should any rational person accept this onslaught of snarky and utterly offensive archaeology-centric criticism from someone who does not have genuinely respectable credentials as an archaeologist?

Mr. Barford has not so far as I can discern, ever done anything in the way of fieldwork that would qualify him as a real archaeologist. He does not have a doctorate in that discipline. His pretenses to the title of "archaeologist" rest solely upon writing about the subject. In that capacity I will admit that he has produced some work of genuine  interest. It is however an exceedingly slender and insubstantial foundation upon which to erect the edifice of "hate speech" against collecting that his blog has evolved into.

Mr. Barford, presently an English teacher in Warsaw, really writes his blog as an obsession. In this observer's opinion, he did at one time intensely desire to become a respected archaeologist. For reasons which have never been disclosed, that did not work out. He then decided to emigrate to Poland and serve its Communist government in appointments harmonious with views ultimately presented in The Early Slavs, his "magnum opus" -- and an overview of genuine merit appreciable to patient souls such as myself who are willing to wade through his dense literary style. He also prepared a good writeup of some important local archaeology in East AngliaHe is a writer of some merit.

He has however immoderately and offensively attacked others who are writers of equal or far superior merit, with credentials more impressive than his own, asserting an overtly inflexible "archaeologie ueber alles" perspective in a confrontational and adversarial manner that has never indicated any willingness to allow common sense and practicality to affect his thinking.

It's all rather odd, really, and very hard indeed to explain, unless one ventures to speculate upon the possibility that Mr Barford is psychologically actuated by a compulsion to do something to establish himself as someone important to archaeology. "Captain Archaeology" perhaps? An academic "caped crusader" selflessly rushing to the defense of "holy archaeology" which failed to recognize his stainless purity and devotion? Taking that theme further, and admittedly perhaps beyond the bounds of propriety, a similarity to the tragic case of Rudolf Hess perhaps suggests itself. Or there could be a much less odious explanation to consider, if it were possible to examine Mr. Barford's real and verifiable background, which he has taken extraordinary pains to conceal, in a manner which very obviously suggests that he has something to conceal. 

All this is speculation, admittedly. Barford has never "come clean" by disclosing the actual details of his past and what really happened regarding his very unusual hegira to Communist Poland. That, in my view, makes it both reasonable and respectable to speculate about what really motivates this almost indecipherable man who apparently wishes to become an "Archaeological Eichmann" who ferociously exterminates collectors.

One thing is certain: the British archaeological establishment, whose cause he asserts as sacred to his being, in reality regards him as an offensive and distracting nuisance. That became very clear in meetings between representatives of the pro-collecting advocacy and representatives of the British archaeological establishment. 

In this speculation, it seems to me that the term "archaeomaniac" could very reasonably and rationally be applied to Mr. Barford, until he provides the collecting community, and the world, with verifiable, factual evidence of something better.

Here's something that may strike you as odd: I hope he can.


Blogger John H said...

Hi Dave:

Hmmm...."his dense literary style..." raises the question, was it his dense literary style? Judging from his recent scribblings on his blog he seems to have a lot in common with Guido Fawkes in that they both lost the Plot.


John Howland

10:48 AM  

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