Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Collecting online?

At the MAAS Research: Provenance Seminar this week the issue of acquisitions from eBay was raised. Thank you to Nancy Ladas from Museum Victoria for advising that the British Museum raised the issue of eBay a couple of years ago and developed the following guide.

Portable Antiquities Scheme and eBay

The British Museum has partnered with eBay.co.uk to ensure that antiquities found in the UK are being sold legally on its site. In order to prevent illegal sales of treasure, the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS, which is managed by the British Museum) has set up a team to monitor antiquities sold on eBay.co.uk and to ensure that sellers have the right to trade them. Where the listing is illegal, PAS will report it to the Art and Antiques Unit of the Metropolitan Police and eBay.co.uk, which has committed to end illegal listings.

The commitment is the latest development in eBay’s on-going work with national law enforcement agencies. eBay.co.uk was the first website to reach an agreement with the British Museum and the MLA banning the illegal sale of treasure over its trading platform, English, Welsh and Northern Irish archaeological finds which constitute ‘treasure’ must be reported to the relevant authorities under the Treasure Act.

Failing to report a find of treasure is a criminal offence. In many cases, sellers innocently trade items on the web, unaware that finds need to be reported under the provisions of the Treasure Act. eBay has therefore also worked with the British Museum and PAS to create a guide to buying and selling antiquities safely on its site with advice about reporting obligations.

The guide is to be found at http://pages.ebay.co.uk/buy/guides/antiquities and other relevant documentation is now available at http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/policies/artifacts.html

Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2021
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