Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Twiddling my thumbs

The Connoisseurs, Eugène Fichel, 1871
I'm now approaching five months of waiting for my backlog of pensions. I started the process about ten months before that. Although my regular expenses are being met, I eat far fewer restaurants meals and I have a growing list of books I cannot afford to buy right now and, of course, I'm not adding anything to my collection of early Celtic art.

The last year or so has been exceptional for my collection. Early Celtic art is so rare that in the thirty years I have been collecting I could only hope to find one or two things in a good year. Of course, if you search for Celtic antiquities on Ebay you will get quite a number of hits. Most such objects are either not Celtic at all, or do not bear any Celtic decoration (which interests me far more than the form).

The star of my most recent collecting is the British plastic style finial (I attribute as a sword pommel). this is the only example of the pure plastic style to have been found in Britain and an electron microprobe analysis has proven that it was actually made in Britain and was not the import that the authorities in early Celtic art first believed it to be. It is such an unusual object that it was not correctly identified at first and received an export permit right away. This surprised me almost as much as the attribution.

Archaeologists in the know understand that a very small percentage of British early Celtic art is found with any archaeological context. Britain has none of the "princely graves" of the continent which has yielded many spectacular examples of early Celtic art, and most of what Britain yields are stray finds and coin hoards (although Celtic coin art is quite different from the art of other Celtic objects.

So it seems that, despite my current financial woes, I have not missed adding anything to my collection and it will be many more months of not buying anything before I find myself buying much less than I have accumulated over the last thirty years. Rest assured, though, that when I do buy the next item for my collection, it will appear here.

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