Educational Resources on the Ancient Mediterranean World


The collector's corner

Having an historical item at home has always a deep meaning: it is like touching directly and personally a far-away past. You donít need to be rich: you can afford many things with a few tens euros. Your first item, a purchase or a gift, is always a great pleasure. Very often, you donít need to choose: you just like it at first sight! You will find easily some roman coins, fibulas or oil lamps. For Greece, the coins, very beautiful, are more expensive, but you may find affordable nice small potteries. For Egypt, amulets, scarabs or statuettes (ushabtis)Ö although the prices are increasing.

The second item may be the beginning of a collection: with the time, you may be interested in a category of items, a historical place or time, a subject: the choice is unlimited! See our guide
Collecting is not looting!

Some may regret it, but the time of adventurers who roamed deserts and mountains searching out for lost treasures, is now over. It is therefore not by digging the earth that youíll set up your collection, the law is perfectly clear on this point. Donít be a party to looters either, by purchasing items of doubtful orgin.

Where to buy?

It depends on the object: youíll find easily nice coins or roman things in France. Greek, Etruscan or Egyptian artefacts are rare there. The public auctions are often very interesting (do take advice from someone if you don't know the rules of auction sales). On the web, many very serious sellers have been operating for many years. On networks like E.bayÖ youíll find the best (sometimes) and the worst (often)! But especially, do not buy any thing from local dealers in the country of origin (Greece, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, etc): you would encounter many trouble, since export is generally strictly prohibited. In other countries, the fact that the item comes from an "old collection" (understand: acquired before the regulations existed!) is sufficient, but an exportation licence may be required.

And what about the collector's expenses ?

"Be reasonable" - it is easy to say, since the very act of collecting is not basically reasonable. Fortunately, even if there is some addiction in every collector's mind, psychopathic cases are rare and you may satisfy your passion without too much pain. Of course, check if you can afford the item you wish. Buying often small, inexpensive items is certainly nice, but finally the price you paid can be higher, and if you think about selling some day, one beautiful item is a better investment than several average ones. In short, avoid compulsive shopping, and build up, at your pace and very modestly, your own little "museum".
In the field of archeology, even if there are fashions and transient variations, items can usually be sold nicely, on a market that became very international, at prices now comparable from one country to another (thanks to internet). They can also lead to some tax advantage.
If the "investing" aspect is not insignificant, you must however have been reasonable when buying, and not let yourself be dragged at the auction house, excessively exceeding the estimate of experts. But yes, "good deals" still exist (be very careful though especially if they sound too good), and since knowledge is involved here, the richest man is not necessarily the one who will have the most beautiful collection.
Beginners often start with "small purchases", and then progress. You can sell the items you bought at the beginning, in order to buy a better piece (the day your showcase is full!), but such items are also great gifts for young people around you. You will spot easily those who may become enthousiastic, may be tomorrow's collectors and ensure continuity!

The terror of the beginner: the " fake" !

Any collector makes errors, and the largest museums were sometimes mistaken! The absolute certainty is seldom, thought some testing methods exist (thermoluminescence for terracotta in particular). It is possible however to reduce risks drastically by dealing with serious sellers, taking advises, being cautious about "too good deals". Websites provide useful advices, and some denounce systematically doubtful dealers. Some experts, even among the most well-known, will be happy to give you advices for free!

Following addresses will help you tou find archaeological objects or ancient coins. They are given as a simple information. Be careful anyway: each one is good in his specific fields, each one may be wrong in some others! Some are expensive, some very affordable. Others (1) give very valuable advices. If you are interested in egyptian scarabs or near-east seals, don't miss a visit at

  Helios Gallery
  Collector Antiquities(1)
Ancient & Oriental
Peter Morris
Lodge Antiquities
  Artemis Gallery
  John Jencek
Edgar L. Owen
Howard Nowes
Medusa Ancient Art
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