Archaeology Premium Positioning: Authenticity - Quality - Legal Compliance
At Catawiki we we include the best archaeological items in our auctions.
These unique objects are truly for everyone: from special items for the starting collector,
to the really exceptional objects for the experienced collector.
Because potential buyers come to Catawiki looking for special and rare artefacts our in-house experts select every piece for our auctions, ensuring they are of premium quality and are presented in the best possible way.
We do this because we aim to keep our bidders excited, allowing them to find the pieces they’re interested in and ensure our sellers have great selling experiences.
At Catawiki we auction genuine archaeological objects or antiquities from the Prehistoric era, ancient civilisations inc. Roman, Greek and Egyptian, and from the early medieval period.
For our auctions we seek and select objects that:
- are collectable and decorative original artefacts (man-made objects), structures or ancient burials dated before 1000
- are from various cultural origins
- are in good condition or that were at least professionally restored or repaired in a way that their original appearance or construction has not been lost
- are valued at least €75
- originate from countries compliant with the 1970 UNESCO Convention and are sold out from countries that comply with National Cultural Heritage Laws
- come with a detailed provenance
Collectable & decorative artefacts dated before AD 1000
We seek original artefacts, structures or ancient burials, inc. fragments and complete (man-made) objects:
- that are of interest to collectors, e.g. because of their cultural origin, their typology, the historical place where they were found, or because they were owned by important people
- that are a decorative addition to the interior
- including prehistoric tools, armoury, pottery, glass and sculptures
- of various cultural origins ranging from prehistoric times, to Ancient Greek,Roman, Egyptian, Near East
Artefacts suitable only in groups of multiple items
Some common objects may be offered in groups of multiple items to ensure (commercially) appealing lots:
- fragments of simple or common items made of silver or gold
- simple flint and bronze arrowheads or tools
- simple common bronze and iron rings, brooches, tools, etc.
Artefacts and antiquities of Asian origin are not suitable for our Archaeology auctions but may be offered in our dedicated Asian Art & Antiques auction.
Artefacts that are unsuitable for auction
There are certain types of items that we find unsuitable for our auctions because they typically create little bidder interest or they are not permitted by law. These include:
- items made of human remains
- items that are too small or insignificant fragments of rather common objects
- that are not made of precious metals
- that do not show any particular style attributes that could clearly be assigned to a certain period
To be suitable for auction, items or fragments need to be in a condition that is collection and display worthy. This means that, next to intact objects, we also accept items that:
- may also be damaged
- may be composed of different fitting fragments
- have been professionally restored or repaired, in a way that their original appearance or construction is not lost
|Object in good condition|
|Professionally restored or repaired fragments that are still display worthy|
|Damaged, yet vastly complete object|
|Object composed of fragments of multiple items (buckle & a belt mount)|
|Glass with cracks|
|Object restored to its original form|
Items that are not in a decent, collection and display worthy condition create little to no interest with bidders and are not suitable for our auctions. This includes for example:
- items that were not at all or not professionally restored
- items that have been restored or repaired in a way that their original appearance or construction has been altered
- items that have been composed of different fragments that do not fit/do not resemble the same period and style
|(rather common) items that have been heavily eroded|
|Glass that was restored and composed of fragments, altering its form that is not true to its original state|
Requirements for Import & Export of Cultural Objects
The Antiquities Trade is governed by a number of national, and international regulations.
The 1970 UNESCO Convention relating to the illicit trade in antiquities is a worldwide set of rules dedicated to halting the illegal trafficking of cultural objects and antiquities.
Sellers and buyers are expected to take all reasonable steps to guarantee the lawfulness of what they buy and sell, so as not to contravene the Convention.
At Catawiki, our experts select each item to be listed in our auctions, and aim to verify each lot’s provenance to ensure legally compliant trade.
Legal Framework for Trading Antiquities
Exporting cultural goods, such as arts and antiques, is subject to strict rules, specified in legislation:
- The 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property is an international treaty, defining a regulatory framework on exporting cultural goods.
- On the UNESCO website, you can browse a database for national cultural heritage laws: www.unesco.org/culture/natlaws
- The ICOM website provides a Red list of cultural objects at risk in Africa, Latin America, Libya, Egypt and especially Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan: http://icom.museum/programmes/fighting-illicit-traffic/red-list/
- The import and export of cultural objects requires, in most cases, a licence and is closely monitored by customs. Customs checks further focus on cultural goods that might have been stolen or that have been exported illegally from a non-EU country. If cultural objects are not accompanied by the required license, the export will be stopped.
- Export licences are issued by the State Inspectorate for Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Find here an example of the respective Dutch Heritage Act
- We do not accept objects that were recently exported from their source countries if they have not been exported legally, nor do we accept objects from countries that have legal requirements for antiquities of which we do not know the laws of.
To ensure items were exported legally and comply with regulations we require a provenance for each item.
- A good provenance will enhance the value of an antiquity.
- It describes the origin and history of property of an object, including:
- its past ownership,
- the name or initials of private or institutional collections in which the item has been held
- names of auction houses, dealers, or galleries that have sold the item
- any exhibitions or museums at which the item was shown at
- mentions in literature about the particular property, etc.
Example: 'Bought at a German auction house, Lot 140, Oct 28, 2015; Private British collection, property of Mr. Jones; acquired from a private collection formed in the 1950s.’
Your provenance statement should always include the following information:
Purchased by the current owner in >year< and >country<
From >name or initials of collector, dealer, auction house, Antiques Fair, etc.<
Was in a collection since >year<, before that etc.
Please find here an easy to use template.
Register as a seller to begin selling your archaeological items on Catawiki then start submitting your objects for auction right away.