Dealers in antiquities were frequent visitors to Birch's room, and the objects which they offered for purchase were sometimes of very considerable interest. By listening to Birch's remarks on the objects brought to him I learned a good deal about them, and also about their market value...
As forgeries were already in the market, it behoved dealers to be careful, and their clients also.
SamsonOn one occasion a native of Diarbakr produced, among other things, certain coins, which Birch, after examining them, declared to be forgeries, and a further scrutiny revealed on their edges the letters RR, which were the initials of Robert Ready, the electrotypist of the Museum, who made them.On another occasion a Syrian brought some earthenware pots with inscriptions cut upon them in Phoenician letters, and he declared the vessels to be " Moabite Pottery."He also brought with him the copy of an inscription that he had made from a large stone coffin, with which the pots had been found, and he claimed that the coffin was that of Samson.Birch went to see the coffin, and though the name of Samson was easily legible upon the cover, its form was not that of the Samson of the Bible according to the Hebrew Scriptures, and he decided that the inscription was a forgery, and condemned both it and the pots.What became of the coffin I know not, but the pots were bought by a renowned Museum on the Continent, in the cellars of which they have been stored out of sight for the last thirty-five years.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Another amusing snippet from Budge about his adventures as an antiquaries buyer in Egypt: