LECTURE: Guardians of the Past or Looters? Connoisseurship, Collecting and the Trade in Antiquities
2:30 pm, Saturday, 05 March, 2016
This talk by James Ede falls into two parts. The first deals with the revival of interest in the ancient world, the history of collecting (some of it scandalous) and the foundation of museums. The second part examines the importance of the trade and the challenges we face in the light of events in the Near East.
James Ede is Chairman of Charles Ede Ltd, specialists in Classical and Pre-Classical antiquities. The firm was founded by his father in 1971, who had first handled antiquities under the aegis of the Folio Society (which he had formed after the Second World War) in 1959. The company has always specialized in sourcing provenanced antiquities for teaching collections and museums.
James was educated at Westminster and Oxford and joined the firm in 1978. He has published over 200 catalogues of antiquities. He has also devoted a good deal of time to the encouragement of ethical trading in the field. He has published a number of papers on the subject – including Ethics, The Antiquities Trade and Archaeology (Institute of Art and Law) and Der Kampf gegen den illegalen Kunstmarkt- aus der sicht des Handels (in Illegale Archäologie? 2004)- and has taken part in numerous conferences on the subject. He is a founder member and past Chairman of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art in 1991; the Association has a strict code of Ethics and seeks to encourage close cooperation with academics.
He served on the UK Government’s Illicit Trade Advisory Panel, which prompted the Government to accede to the UNESCO Treaty and which resulted in the passing of The Cultural Property Offences Act 2003. He is a valuer for the Portable antiquities Scheme and official valuer for the Commonwealth of Australia.
While very interested in the history of early collecting, he is aware how much information has been lost and is therefore currently working on a mechanism for researching and recording the provenance of antiquities outside public collections in perpetuity.
Image: Caricature of Sir William Hamilton (Scottish diplomat, volcanologist and collector of antiquities) by James Gillray, 1801.
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