Page images

Mr. Garnett, C. B., spoke of instances of gross mistreatment of monuments during church restorations in Wales.

Mr. St. John Hope pointed out that one reason why so many ancient monuments had not been placed under the present Act was that the owners could see no appreciable danger or decay in earthworks such as Old Sarum, or in rude stone monuments such as Stonehenge; but if the principle was extended to the best of mediæval stonework, he felt sure that owners, who regretted the deterioration that they noticed year by year, would be glad to put such buildings under State control and repair.

Mr. Ralph Nevill, F.S.A., thought that many of the intelligent middle class were more alive to the value of the remains under discussion than the landowners.

Eventually, after further discussion, and after it had been stated that Sir John Lubbock would probably reintroduce a similar measure next session, the two following resolutions were unanimously carried :

"That this Congress, having taken into consideration the draft of a Bill to extend the Ancient Monuments Protection Act, 1882, beg to express to Sir John Lubbock their approval of the principles therein involved.

"That in the opinion of this Congress it is desirable that the Government should have some powers that would enable them to prevent the destruction of ancient monuments by the owners, whether private or corporate."

The next question was Parish Registers and Records. At the last Congress a strong Committee was appointed to deal with this question, of which Dr. Freshfield, V.P.S.A., is Chairman, and Mr. Ralph Nevill is Hon. Secretary. Mr. Nevill read the Report and suggestions, and expressed a hope that they would soon be able to issue an alphabet of register-characters, and also a list of all the Registers that had been printed, which list the Societies in union might like to bind up with their respective Proceedings.

In the discussion that followed, Mr. Green, F.S.A., spoke in favour of the old suggestion of bringing all Parish Registers to London; but this was promptly opposed by Chancellor Ferguson, who evidently carried most of the Congress with him. Eventually it was agreed "That the Report of the Parish Registers and Records Committee be received, and the Committee continued, and that a sum of £5 be placed at their disposal.”

It was also agreed that each Society in union pay a subscription of one guinea towards the expenses of the Congress.

The continuation of the Archæological Survey of England on the lines laid down by Mr. George Payne in his Map of Kent was brought before the meeting. The President announced that the map and index to the archæology of Hertfordshire, which he was preparing, would be issued during the next few months. Chancellor Ferguson reported good progress with regard to the survey of Cumberland and Westmoreland; the index, covering fifty-two

pages, being already in type. It was also stated that the surveys of Berkshire and Surrey were actively progressing. This is one good result that has already ensued from these Congresses.

The next subject brought before the Congress was a classified index of archæological papers. Upon this question there was at first considerable divergence of opinion, some being in favour of all the Societies contributing an account of their papers year by year to a scientific and archæological year-book of a particular publisher, whilst the majority wished that the work should be entrusted to some known antiquary, and that the result should be sent annually to the different Societies. At last, as a compromise, the following resolution was adopted by a considerable majority :

"That this meeting is of opinion that it is desirable that the index, as suggested, should be prepared under the authority of the Congress, and that the best method of carrying this out be referred to the Standing Committee."

The question of a memorial to the Government for a grant towards constructing models of ancient monuments was, at the suggestion of General Pitt-Rivers, deferred.

The Standing Committee for the Societies in Union, for the current year, was next elected. It consists of the officers of the Society of Antiquaries; E. P. Loftus Brock, F.S. A.; the Rev. J. C. Cox, LL.D., F.S.A.; W. Cunnington, F.G.S.; the Rev. P. H. Ditchfield; Chancellor Ferguson, F.S.A.; G. L. Gomme, F.S.A.; H. Gosselin ; Ralph Nevill, F.S.A.; George Payne, F.S.A.; and Earl Percy, V.P.S.A.

After an adjournment the Congress resumed, when the Director of the Society of Antiquaries (Mr. Milman) took the chair, whilst the President (Dr. Evans) delivered an interesting, humorous, and comprehensive address "On the Forgery of Antiquities." He said that it was mainly founded upon a paper on this subject that he read before the Royal Institution twenty-five years ago, and printed in their Transactions; but he pleaded that for that very reason it would be sure to be original to his hearers, as that was a sure process of consigning it to oblivion.

"The economic law of supply equalling the demand was as true of antiquities as of anything else, and it seemed always to be the case that, if there was any keen demand for possession of any particular class of antiques, in due course gentlemen were found who were sufficiently obliging in exercising their talents to ensure all being gratified with that which they coveted. It should be remembered that there were both counterfeits and forgeries. The counterfeit was a reproduction of something genuine, whilst the pure forgery was the invention of a something that had never existed at the time to which it was assigned. Literary forgeries had been numerous. There were the false Gospels, and the inventions of Chatterton and Ireland, whilst quite within their own time there had been the publication of Shakspearean glosses which were certainly not above considerable suspicion. Forged inscriptions were very old

ways of attempting to deceive the unwary. Three centuries ago there was a rage for the production of highly imaginative Roman inscriptions, one of the most comical of which was a memorial of Tarquin to his dearest wife Lucretia. Roman pottery, genuine enough in itself, has often been made the vehicle of inscriptions added to enhance its value, whilst Roman tiles have been punctured with legionary marks added centuries after they were baked in the kiln.

"Antique gems have long been the subjects of most ingenious counterfeits; but some of the really beautiful work in this direction, of the seventeenth, sixteenth, and even fifteenth centuries has apparently been done as a reproduction with certain added features, rather than with any intention to deceive. Many examples, too, of genuine classic work have been added to or altered to suit the times; such as the addition of a nimbus to a beautiful female antique cameo bust, in order to change it into a representation of the Blessed Virgin. Very few collections of Etruscan and Greek vases can be inspected by the practised eye without the detection of some fraudulent examples, or of those that have been 'improved' in modern times. The majolica of Palissy has been so successfully reproduced of late years, that it is difficult to detect sometimes the falsity of examples that claim to be the original ware. Wonderful ingenuity has been expended on china; plain examples, for instance, of genuine Sèvres, incontestably marked, have been scraped, and royal colours and special devices have been applied in fresh paste, and successfully fired. Limoges enamels are another fruitful source of fraudulent imitation, whereby a rich harvest has been secured from the unwary. Some exhibited as genuine at the recent Manchester Exhibition were detected. Ancient glass has not often been exposed to the forger's art; but even here false incrustations have been sometimes skilfully applied to give an appearance of extreme


[ocr errors]

Coins, as might be expected, are one of the most fruitful sources of fraud. There is a great variety of ancient base coins, both counterfeit and altered. Some of the early and contemporary counterfeits occasionally possess almost as much interest as the originals, if not more. The gold and silver coins of most of the empe rors were reproduced plated on iron or on some heavy base metal; and it is curious to note that prominent amongst these clever forgers were our ancestors the ancient Britons, of whose productions the speaker possessed several examples in his own collection. Some amusingly ingenious coins bore their confutation on the face, save to the most credulous; as, for instance, a head of Priam with a view of Troy on the reverse; and Dr. Evans thought he had seen Dido with the reverse occupied by Carthage! Sovereigns for whose memory there was any popular sentiment were generally well supplied with coinage. Mary Queen of Scots was singularly well off in this respect, whilst coins were extant declaring Lady Jane Grey Queen of England; which would, of course, be of surpassing

interest provided they were genuine. Richard Coeur de Lion was a most popular monarch in English estimation; at all events now that centuries remove us from his time. Cabinets of coins lacked any of this reign; but an ingenious forger of the name of Singleton undertook to supply them, only, unfortunately for the success of his scheme, he reproduced details of the pennies of William I and II, which were too early for the time of Richard. (Here, amid much amusement, the President produced a coin that he said would have been that of Richard I if he had produced any. It was one that he himself had constructed by using dies that he had specially engraved on a worn fourpenny piece of William IV!). The fact is that Richard had no coins of his own, but continued to reproduce those of his father Henry. Coins fairly old in themselves have often been used as the medium of greater age: thus a crown of Elizabeth is extant showing through the lettering an only partially obliterated Gulielmus Tertius'. Becker, at the end of last century, was the clever engraver of a number of counterfeit Greek and Roman coins. To give the requisite surface of worn age to his productions, it was his ingenious method to enclose his specimens in a box containing a number of iron filings, and then to take the box out for a drive or two on the jolting roads of his day! After Becker had supplied so large a number of his counterfeits as almost to glut the market, he coolly turned round and confessed, and turned an honest penny by producing sets of his dies, so that now there are few of our large collections that do not possess specimens of Becker's dies.

"Another style of prevalent deceit is the finding of coins in special localities. This is peculiarly the case with London, where there is hardly ever an excavation for foundations but coins (often of the most absurdly unlikely description, such as Greek or Alexandrian, and sometimes of quite a modern date) are found' by clever workmen, sometimes at fabulous depths. Some thirty years ago there was a large manufactory of 'old' lead and pewter articles said to be found during the construction of the Docks at Shadwell. Reliquaries and impossible heart-shaped vessels were turned out, on which a date was generally stamped of the eleventh or twelfth century; but they blundered in giving the year in Arabic numerals two or three centuries before such numerals were in use. These forgeries were sown almost everywhere, and notwithstanding their clumsiness (several examples were produced for the benefit of the Congress) evidently commanded a good market. The President said that he had even had these things of "cock metal" sent over to him from the diamond fields of South Africa, where it was alleged they had been disinterred at a depth of 3 ft. from the surface. Mr. Reed, some years ago, laid a trap for these gentlemen. He inquired of some of the workmen in London who were in the habit of producing these things if it was true that they had found one with the figure of a bishop upon it. No; they had seen nothing of it. Then producing paper and pencil, he drew the kind of thing he meant.

with lettering below. Ah, yes! they believed one of their mates had turned up something a bit like it, and they would try to find him. Accordingly, in a day or two, a corroded quasi relic was produced to Mr. Reed with the effigy of a bishop thereon; and lo! below the figure they had put his own lettering of 'Sanctus Fabricatus'! This trade in 'cock-metal' seems now to have dropped out, and fabrications in brass have taken its place. An ancient dagger was produced of recent manufacture, and several members of the Congress testified to having seen, or had offered to them, like examples.

"Carvings in ivory, both of ecclesiastical and classical designs, are not uncommon modern forgeries. As an example of the latter class Dr. Evans produced a small long-toothed comb, on the handle portion of which were a wolf and Romulus and Remus cleverly carved in a sunk medallion. This, he said, was a modern forgery from the Rhine district. The forged ecclesiastical ivories are produced in the south of France. Seals have been sometimes forged, particularly those of a rare kind, such as those engraved on jet.

"The operations of Flint Jack' and other less skilful followers of his trade are well known in their imitations of flint and stone implements. Perhaps the cleverest work ever accomplished by 'Flint Jack' was the working of a fossil alleged to be taken out of the chalk. Of late a school of forgers have been at work in the neighbourhood of Epping, producing polished stone hatchets, of which some examples were exhibited. They can, however, be detected without much trouble by the practised eye, because they are produced on revolving grindstones, whilst the original were patiently polished and worked on flat stones. Flint arrow-heads were a speciality of the notorious Flint Jack'; but the President was able to produce two such perfect examples of his own forging that they were calculated to deceive even the most experienced. They had been worked by him as experiments. One of them was the result of pressure applied from pieces of stag's horn, and the other was formed from old stone tools.

[ocr errors]

"Palæolithic weapons and implements from the gravel-drift have also been made largely in modern days. They can usually be detected by the absence of (1) lime incrustations, and the discoloration thereby produced; of (2) dendritic markings that look like tracings of twigs, but are caused by manganese; or of (3) bright spots where they have been brought into co tact with other flints. At Amiens, however, the workmen who dispose of these paleolithic implements have discovered an ingenious way of producing the action of water as a solvent on the freshly chipped edges of their counterfeits. Their plan is to let these stones lie for months in the boilers by the side of their stoves before offering them for sale. The favourite reproduction of the bronze age is the socketed celt; but one of the simplest ways of detecting the counterfeits is through their being made of too heavy metal."

At the conclusion of this address, which was obviously much ap

« PreviousContinue »