Monday, August 24, 2009

Gravestones in Bodie, CA


Unknown said...

Seeing these great headstone images made me think of a related subject I've thought about, but never discussed with other collectors.

Over the years I've seen a few grave markers and sculptural items that probably came from crypts for sale at flea markets.

I've asked sellers with grave goods about the story behind them, and they usualy tell me:

They don't know where the item originaly came from or anything about it, it came from a moved graveyard, or it was a sample from a monument makers shop.

I question the validity of these explanations.

Reputable sellers should know something about the history of items they are selling especialy when they might have come to the market illegaly. It's like selling some Native American items, you really should know what you are doing.

If the item came from a moved graveyard it belongs in the new site, with descendants or at a local historical society, not in a flea market.

I guess it's possible to find sample gravegoods from a monument makers shop, but without some sort of documentation, dosen't that sound like a blanket excuse? I had a vendor tell me this about an old weathered stone, I pointed out the aged surface and he said the stone had been stored outside (!)

I think that selling or buying these items is usualy a bad idea.
There is a very good chance they were looted from a gravesite.

Have you had similar experiences, or do you have a different point of view?

Joey said...

Hey Scott,

That's a very valid point that you bring up and I think it's a hard call to make for any collector. It's so easy for someone to tell you that it was either a sample or a moved graveyard. I would think most people would never knowingly support grave robbing, but at the same time, I'm sure there are circumstances where these objects do come from monument shops. I really don't know what the right answer is when you don't know all the facts of where something has come from. My rule of thumb would be if you have a hunch that it may be illegal, don't touch it.

I do believe that collectors have an important role in being caretakers for these often neglected objects and the fluidity of how those objects are defined is what makes collecting in our field so interesting.