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Thoughts About Artifact Collecting

There are lots of hobbies and countless collectible categories but what can bring the satisfaction that comes with finding or owning a piece of man-made history that can be up to 12,000 years old, or more?

To put things in perspective, what does man make today, that will survive and be here 12,000 years from now? Some very popular collectibles boast items that scarcely approach a hundred years old and fetch astronomical prices, especially compared to the antiquity of prehistoric Indian artifacts.

Even though there were millions of artifacts manufactured over the past 12,000 years, no two artifacts are exactly alike, as each were individually handmade under varying conditions, with diverse grades of treated and non-treated lithic material, using primitive tools. This "uniqueness" provides an opportunity that is seldom duplicated by assembly lines and mass production of the past couple hundred years.

Although point types are classifed by their basal and hafting configuration, each flint implement has its own degree of appeal, colors, flaking patterns, size, thinness, and workmanship.

The quest for a better example, the missing variant, or the example with the rare color or made of the sought after material, are the driving forces behind why many collectors turn to purchasing better than what they have found or acquired before. Enter the artifact market.....

 Whether buying online, from other hobbyists, or at artifact shows, the commerce of collecting begins when both buyer and seller negotiate a price and the transaction is completed, hopefully to the satisfaction of both parties. 

Owning a piece of the past is a satisfaction that must be experienced in order to be understood. Finding an ancient object that may not have been touched my human hands for thousands of years and rescuing that artifact from a construction zone or a plow zone and certain destruction, is an awesome feeling.

Some would argue that the commerce in artifacts is a bad thing and that looting and site destruction are the direct results of buying and selling of artifacts. I would argue that the very fact that artifacts have value, ensures their preservation rather than allowing them to be discarded or destroyed forever.

The anti-collectors maintain that the information associated with the artifact is the most valuable resource and that the artifact itself is not what they are interested in. Yeah right. Let the "professionals" show me just how dedicated they are to information gathering when their "funding" is exhausted or the "grant monies" are not appropriated or budgeted. Where's their dedication to the "information" when they arent getting paid to excavate? On the contrary, the private collector will expend personal time, resources, risk life and limb, and spend their own money, just to find and rescue the artifact that might be lost or destroyed forever.

The anti-collectors contend that the commerce in artifact is something akin to evil and attempt to portray collectors as stealing from the general public when artifacts end up in individual collections. Artifact collectors are wrongfully branded as looters, grave robbers, and pot-holers when in fact the overwhelming majority of collectors would never participate or condone such activity.

The truth is artifact collectors do more to educate the public, share their collections frequently and liberally, and have done more to supply the museums in this country with great artifacts, than all the efforts of all the professionals and the anti-collecting community, combined. 

IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT EVEN THE FAMED SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION CREDITS PRIVATE COLLECTORS AND INDIVIDUALS AS THE PRIMARY SOURCE FOR  ITEMS BEING IN ITS INVENTORY. THE FACTS ARE ESTABLISHED -  OVER 90% OF ARTIFACTS HOUSED IN PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS ARE THERE, AS A RESULT OF PRIVATE COLLECTORS.

Follow the money trail. When the money trail dries up for the professionals and anti's, they move on to the next paying "gig".  Oh sure, they solicit the help of volunteers that they have convinced of their position but when the paid professional's funding is gone, so are they. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Yep, artifacts have value. Value is good. Value helps ensure preservation.

Yep, artifact collectors are passionate about this hobby AND artifact preservation. The more the anti's and professionals work to make it illegal through bad legislation, the more information will be lost or hidden. If it is really about the information, then get off your sanctimonious government funded high horse, and bring something reasonable to the table.

Recent legislation and prosecution efforts ARE intended for one purpose -TO STOP ARTIFACT COLLECTING. So much for information, the anti-collecting contingent says is "really important."  

Yes, we collect artifacts for a variety of reasons, one of which happens to be they are worth something (ie, they are valuable!). This isnt a communist country (yet) and its not a sin for artifacts to have a monetary value. Its not a "sin" for someone as passionate as collectors are to have these pieces of the past in safekeeping or displayed at a show, rather than lost or neglected in some dark basement, with access only to the privileged few.  

Stay tuned, more to come....   

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