Fine Arts, Antiques & Collectibles

Beautiful objects have always captured peoples’ imagination. Acquiring or selling an antique piece of furniture or a rare, valuable collectable may seem simple, but there are some legal matters both a buyer and seller need to be aware of. At Saracens Solicitors, we are experts in the law surrounding the sale and purchase of antiques and collectables. From defining whether or not an item falls under the definition of ‘treasure’ to establishing ownership, to the laws surrounding the auction process, we can advise you in a clear, competent manner, allowing you to indulge in your new purchase, or enjoy the proceeds from your sale.

Places to Buy and Sell Antiques

There are a number of ways to buy and purchase antiques in the United Kingdom including:

  • Auction
  • Private sale
  • Selling or purchasing from an antiques dealer
  • Buying or selling through a dealer (who receives commission)
  • Antique fairs

If you are purchasing an antique from an auction remember the golden rule of Caveat Emptor or Let the Buyer Beware.Ensure you or your representative have a chance to inspect the antique thoroughly, to ensure there are no defects.

The Definition of Treasure

The Treasure Act 1996 defines treasure or ‘treasure trove’ as:

  • All coins from the same hoard. A hoard is defined as two or more coins, as long as they are at least 300 years old when found. If they contain less than 10% gold or silver there must be a minimum of 10 coins in the hoard for it to quality.
  • Two or more prehistoric base metal objects in association with one another
  • Any individual (non-coin) find that is at least 300 years old and contains at least 10% gold or silver.
  • Any object of any material found in the same place as (or which had previously been together with) another object which is deemed treasure (this is known as ‘associated finds’).
  • Objects substantially made from gold or silver but are less than 300 years old, that have been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovery and whose owners or heirs are unknown.

There is a legal obligation for finders of treasure to notify the local coroner within 14 days. Before you make any attempt to sell an item that may be considered treasure you need to obtain legal advice as to who is entitled to claim legal ownership of the item or items.

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