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Stories by TimeLine Auctions

Voting For Collectors

TimeLine Auctions supports the rights of private citizens to own and collect historical artefacts. Indeed, our very existence depends on individuals exercising that right by bidding on, and buying, the thoroughly vetted lots we list in our catalogues. At TimeLine we believe – as our bidders believe - that a fundamental democratic right is upheld every time an auction hammer falls. In countries ruled by authoritarian dictators the sound is rarely, if ever, heard. At a time when elections and voting procedures in the world’s democracies; and the lack of them in undemocratic regions; ... Read more

Brett Hammond, TimeLine Auctions, 21st June 2024

Emotional Moments In The History Of A Medieval Gold Ring

TimeLine Auctions vetting team must have shared expressions of unanimous approval as the hammer fell on Lot 0576 in our September, 2019 auction. The team’s combined academic research, and investigative deliberations, as they strove to eliminate any possibilities of forgery and fakery, had culminated in their unanimous decision to describe the lot as: A magnificent and important gold finger ring; the plain hoop of rounded D-section with baluster shoulders showing diagonal raised line ornament and combed bar at junction with the broad octagonal 'pie' collet cell closed bezel, ... Read more

Tanya Maijala, TimeLine Auctions, 18th June 2024

TimeLine Auctions Top The Royal Pecking Order

If you type the word Vervel in the Simple Search box on the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s website, you can browse several hundred records of vervels and associated finds brought to light by members of the public (mainly detectorists) in England and Wales since the scheme’s launch in 1997. If this is your first encounter with the word vervel, let me explain that it comes from the Old French vervelle meaning leg fetter. In turn, the Old French word derived from the Vulgar Latin vertibulum, which meant leg joint. By the time the word came into widespread use in medieval England it... Read more

Aaron Hammond, TimeLine Auctions, 13th June 2024

Hnefatafl Hunting: English Searchers Make a Good Fist of It

  It seems a near certainty that all TimeLine Auctions catalogue readers will have heard of The Lewis Chessmen. Perhaps fewer will be aware that this remarkable group of more than seventy Viking gaming pieces, carved from walrus ivory and sperm whale teeth, came to light on the Scottish island in 1831 when farm animals driven along a Lewis foreshore path strayed from their usual route, trampled part of a sand-dune, and tumbled a stretch of sandstone wall, behind which the herdsman discovered several dozen gaming pieces probably dating from the 12th century. Another agricultural wor... Read more

Brett Hammond (Chief Executive Officer), TimeLine Auctions, 13th March 2024

Ancient Greek Pottery | Attic Black-Figure Neck-Amphora with Gorgon and Quadriga Attributed to the Swing Painter

This Attic Black-Figure, Neck-Amphora offered by Timeline Auctions on the 5 th March 2024 is more than an object of historical and cultural interest. Its narrative bridges the worlds of legend and history to speak to us of the artistic legacy of ancient Greece and the timeless attraction of its myths and heroes. Its creator merges clay and pigment to create a testament to the vibrancy and depth of Athenian culture during the 6th century B.C. The extraordinary vessel, created around 550 BC, brings to life on its curved surface a tale of ancient mythology recounted with artistic brillianc... Read more

Aaron Hammond, TimeLine Auctions, 22nd February 2024

Victorian Collectors – v- Victorian Swindlers and Fakers

The Industrial Revolution sparked the construction of a rail network across much of Britain. It also heralded the demolition of many old city centres to provide land for factories, office buildings and workers homes. The upheavals brought an unexpected surge of interest in ancient coins and antiquities among what we might today refer to as the managerial classes. When labouring gangs wielded their picks and shovels to excavate foundations for city halls, banks, chambers of commerce, railway cuttings, and terminal stations in capitals and major provincial centres of population, they frequently ... Read more

TimeLine Auctions, 29th January 2024

SATISFACTION .. For The Winning Bidder

  The Bronze Age Minoan civilization centred on the island of Crete and controlling most of the smaller islands in the northern Aegean Sea is named after King Minos from Greek mythology. A bull ravaged his Queen, who later gave birth to the Minotaur, a creature with the body of a man and the head of a bull. King Minos managed to captured the Minotaur and imprisoned it in a labyrinth. The Minoan culture, known primarily for its monumental architecture and its energetic art, is often regarded as Europe’s first civilization. To the Minoans the lotus symbolized strength, rebirth and ... Read more

Michael Healy (Photographer), TimeLine Auctions, 25th January 2024

Mani In Fede Rings .. TimeLine’s Tanja Maijala Describes Their Full Circle.

  When the earliest humans first held pointed sticks and turned their bodies through three hundred and sixty degrees, they drew rings on the ground that soon took on magical significance. Men and women saw the endless circle as a symbol of eternity. A few thousand years later Bronze Age artisans cast metal circles of copper. Believers in their powers wore them to ward off misfortune. Today we see evidence of their faith in ancient circles whenever a Bronze Age metal bangle or ring comes under the hammer at a TimeLine Auction. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks appreciated the circle&rsquo... Read more

Tanja Maijala, TimeLine Auctions, 18th January 2024

A Long Timeline For Fake Jewellery

  2,000 Years Of Popularity Enjoyed By Imitation Gems Whenever you take part in the spirited bidding for one of our Jewellery lots you can enjoy the unconditional assurance that TimeLines vetting staff examined the piece with forensic thoroughness before describing it fully on our catalogue pages. We think of our experts as followers in the footsteps of Gaius Plinius Secundus; better known to us today as Pliny the Elder; who earned international renown for his encyclopaedic work, Natural History. In it he gave us the first records of mineralogical scratch tests to detect fake gems, ... Read more

Aaron Hammond (Chief Operating Officer), TimeLine Auctions, 16th January 2024

Isis And The Black Madonna Connection

  In early 2020, TimeLine’s meticulous vetting panel examined an unusual potential lot: a rare 14th century pewter pilgrim badge. It passed vetting with flying colours and went forward to our first auction of that year, where it sold for £5,750. As you can see from the accompanying photograph, the badge depicts a busy medieval scene. On the left sits Mary nursing the infant Jesus beneath the shelter of a roofed building. The structure represents a retreat built by a Benedictine monk named Meinrad in the early ninth century when he first arrived as a wandering cleric in that... Read more

Dr Raffaele D’Amato, TimeLine Auctions, 12th January 2024

“Ils ne passeront pas!”

  Several times each year, echoes of that rousing declaration strengthen the resolve of TimeLine Auctions Expert Vetting team as they gather around a boardroom table at TimeLine’s offices. They are about to embark on the mammoth task of minutely examining each potential lot vying for a place in TimeLine’s forthcoming auction. Vetters must prevent fakes and forgeries reaching the bidding room. Their determination to win that battle matches the French army’s resolve when it repulsed the Boche at Verdun in 1916. Many weeks before those Big Guns of the core vetting tea... Read more

Tanja Maijala, TimeLine Auctions, 3rd January 2024

What’s Your Tipple?

  Blowing froth from a pot brimming with best bitter .. or ... sipping China tea from ornate miniature cups at a dolls’ tea party? What can those two pleasurable activities possibly have had in common? Answer: PEWTER. From the early 17th century pewter tankards (the lidded versions of the pots) began to grow in popularity among labourers who caroused on Saturday evenings at alehouses and taverns across England. Pewter possessed the advantage of robust strength, a quality needed in the rough-and-tumble atmosphere generated by alcoholic fumes. When altercations broke out, fi... Read more

Aaron Hammond (Chief Operating Officer), TimeLine Auctions, 30th May 2023

Brief Observations on Lot 4

  The hammer price + Bp (£5,200) achieved by Lot No. 0004 (Fowl-Roasting Scene) in TimeLine Auction's 23 May 23rd 2023 sale delighted all in attendance. Bidders and onlookers around the room seemed to share an empathic moment as the tableau of a cook roasting a spitted bird over a fire-bowl came under scrutiny. We have all been there; in Christmas kitchens, or around back-garden barbecues; attentively twiddling fan-assisted oven controls; or wafting charcoal briquettes to coax a little more heat to work its magic on the pallid pink poultry skin. Yet Lot No. 0004’s ... Read more

Michael Healy (Photographer), TimeLine Auctions, 26th May 2023

Her Life at Stake for Coining a Fake

  TimeLine researchers expose wrongdoers who create, and attempt to sell, spurious coins and antiquities. Such crimes have, of course, occurred throughout history. Fakers, when exposed, have suffered severe retribution. TimeLine recently uncovered a newspaper report on the execution of an 18th century coiner. Not much of a headline story, you might imagine. After all, several hundred counterfeiters paid with their lives during the reign of George III. But two striking facts jumped out from the newspaper page as this amazing eye-witness account was read by TimeLine staff: the fake maker... Read more

Tanja Maijala (Head of Administration), TimeLine Auctions, 16th May 2023

From Pieces Of Eight .. to Pieces of Two

  Collectors from countries across the world know and admire the Spanish silver 8 reales as a handsome numismatic piece. Its accuracy of weight, purity of silver, and milled edge as a safeguard against clipping, also gave the denomination an international reputation. In the 18th and early 19th centuries reales were the currency of world trade. During those years the silver eight reales was known, throughout all English-speaking colonies, and in post-Colonial America, as the Spanish Dollar. (See TimeLine Auctions archived catalogues for several examples we have auctioned in the past.) F... Read more

Brett Hammond (Chief Executive Officer), TimeLine Auctions, 11th May 2023

Charles I, II, III: A Trio of Controversial Coronations

All three English monarchs named Charles have divided public opinion on issues that cast shadows on their crowning ceremonies. On the other hand, all three have bequeathed to us interesting coin issues worth adding to our collections. Let’s run through some of the time lines and historical events that connect the enthronements of these kings. Charles Stuart became Prince of Wales in 1616. His father, King James, hoped his son would marry a Spanish princess, and that England and Spain would then form an alliance to end costly European wars. A personal visit by Charles to the Spanish ... Read more

Brett Hammond (Chief Executive Officer), TimeLine Auctions, 2nd May 2023

The Men of Bronze

An important change in the Greek burial customs took place around 700 B.C. when the men were no longer buried with their weaponry. At the same time, the old monarchies disappeared giving way to the aristocratic governments based on the new urban structure of the Poleis. At first, the Aristoi were able control the power within the cities, creating an aristocratic republic. This was soon followed by the change in economic situation, which was based upon the development of the commerce and craftsmanship, and favoured the rising of the middle classes of the demos (the people). These social chan... Read more

Dr Raffaele D’Amato, archaeologist at L.A.D., Laboratorio Antiche Province Danubiane, University of Ferrara, 28 April 2023

Fantasy or Fake?

  TimeLine has included several lots of Billy and Charlie’s strange artefacts in past auctions; and today’s TimeLine vetting staff are well prepared for any forthcoming challenge to decide whether an offered lot is a genuine fake .. or a fake of a fake Billy and Charlie. The popularity of the originals is such that fakers have indeed been at work attempting to cash-in on heightened interest. You may rest assured that TimeLine is woke to their fake making… The 1840s and 1850s were decades that had witnessed tremendous growth of interest in historical items disc... Read more

Aaron Hammond (Chief Operating Officer), TimeLine Auctions, 24th April 2023

Nothing Fake About These Deadly Leaden Missiles

TimeLine researchers recently learned of ancient shepherds equipped with slings, who fired holed pebbles over their flocks when the herders wanted the animals to move to fresh grazing grounds. The whistling sounds thus generated unsettled the sheep and goats and encouraged them to change direction as they wandered. When similarly holed projectiles, in this case made from lead, came to light during excavations at Burnswark Iron Age hillfort in Dumfriesshire, the possibility that noise generation provided a motive for firing them provoked lively discussion among the excavators. Here is what the ... Read more

Brett Hammond (Chief Executive Officer), TimeLine Auctions, 18th April 2023

Official Replica Alfred The Great Penny Compared to a Becker Fake

  An Alfred the Great coin, with LONDONIA monogram reverse, was submitted to TimeLine Auctions recently. This is always a popular Anglo-Saxon lot, especially sought-after by London’s many collectors hoping to add examples from the capital’s early mint to their cabinets. TimeLine’s numismatic vetting team had examined the piece prior to its acceptance in our sale, so we had supreme confidence in its authenticity. Ninety-nine years earlier, at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition, the Royal Mint’s pavilion included a group of mint workers who wore Anglo-Sax... Read more

Brett Hammond (Chief Executive Officer), TimeLine Auctions, 12th April 2023

TimeLine Auctions - “Et tu, Brute?”

  The pugio, renowned in literature as the hidden weapon carried by each of the conspirators who assassinated Julius Caesar, was also the battle dagger most favoured by the Roman legionary when he fought at close-quarters on bloody battlefields across the Empire. It is thought that the Romans first encountered foes armed with short, triangular bladed daggers with two-disc hilts during their decades of savage warfare against the Celtiberians in Spain. The long war culminated in an eight-month blockade of Numantia, a tribal city where many of the inhabitants chose suicide rather than sub... Read more

Aaron Hammond (Chief Operating Officer), TimeLine Auctions, 6th April 2023

Casting Lamplight on Ancient Fakes

  TimeLine Auctions fights its continuous campaign against fakers by rigorously vetting and scientifically testing material to be offered for sale at each of our auctions. Later a panel of external experts convenes, normally over three days, to carry out first-hand examination of the auction lots. Our system allows for independent assessment of material before it wins approval for inclusion in our sales. This quest to root out fakes commenced many years before TimeLine picked up the banner and took up the challenge. One of our recent lots – a Roman oil lamp with the word FORTI... Read more

Brett Hammond (Chief Executive Officer), TimeLine Auctions, 3rd April 2023

TimeLine Auctions - The Return of Young Bacchus

  When I started working full time for TimeLine Auctions back in 2020, I decided that one of my main goals was to support my team to continue to improve the process of identifying possibly stolen or looted items in the art market. Our hard work was rewarded at the beginning of this year, when we played an instrumental part in the return of the statue of a young Bacchus, stolen from Musée du Pays Châtillonnais in December 1973. Witnessing the joy of Catherine Monnet, director of the museum, when she received the 1st century Gallo-Roman masterpiece back, was everything that ... Read more

Dr Raffaele D’Amato, archaeologist at L.A.D., Laboratorio Antiche Province Danubiane, University of Ferrara, 13 April 2023