Saturday, January 12, 2019
Dark Provenance - Nautical Antiques
The first thing you are probably thinking of by the title of this posting are things like shipwreck artifacts.
That is, artifacts salvaged from a what was a tragedy.
Frankly, that is an area of collecting expertise well covered by collectors across the world. One associate of mine specializes in items with dark histories; and one of his collections includes artifacts from the Titanic disaster.
Someone has to preserve such items, and I have no problem with collections of items from such events, as it is history preservation.
The items I have a problem with that have a dark provenance tend to have acquired that darkness of history far more recently.
Nautical antiques, from ship lighting, port holes, ship compasses, furniture, bouys, bells, assorted architectural details, and countless other artifacts are sourced from ships that have undergone renovations, or more than likely have literally been broken up and the hulks pillaged and salvaged until there is nothing of value left.
Ship breaking is the source of the vast majority of nautical antiques and collectibles out there today, especially when it comes to 1950s and newer items from these vessels.
Ship breaking is an industry that is undertaken in several countries, and the business of ship breaking in third world countries is a scary industry; one responsible for horrid working conditions, pollution and environmental damage, horrific deaths of workers...and in some cases slavery-like conditions & use of child labour.
And, with such unregulated and unsafe conditions, how do you know that item you are purchasing is not in some way been contaminated with hazardous chemicals/substances, radioactivity, etc?
So, you may wish to view these two videos before purchasing that neat light, brass ship gizmo, vintage life preserver, etc, and strive to find out the source of that item first.
Ship Breaking in Bangledesh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4cVGWTzKo8
Ship Breaking in Mumbai, India: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jdEG_ACXLw