Antiques Roadshow Expert refuses to give Valuation of Slave Trade Item

Monday, April 8, 2024
Antiques Roadshow Expert refuses to give Valuation of Slave Trade Item

An Antiques Roadshow expert refused to value an object on an episode of the BBC show.

Ronnie Archer-Morgan admitting feeling upset seeing the item and declared he would not 'put a price on something that signifies such an awful business'. The guest had brought in a disc of ivory, which she revealed she had purchased 36 years ago for £3, which Archer-Morgan revealed came from the slave trade.

He began by issuing a strong statement : 'I want to make it absolutely clear that myself and we in the Antiques Roadshow wholly, unequivocally disapprove of the trade in ivory.

He continued: 'But this ivory bangle here, it's not about trading in ivory, it's about trading in human life.'It's probably one of the most difficult things that I've ever had to talk about, but talk about it we must. This is an amazing object and a testament to the callous trade that went on in the 17th, 18th, and 19th century.'

When asked where she got the ivory bangle from, the guest revealed she had worked for a family 'looking after them', and when one member died, the item was put up for sale.

Intrigued, she had decided to purchase it, saying: 'I thought it looked interesting. I had no idea what it was.'

Ronnie asked why she had kept it for over three decades, and she replied: 'I had no idea what it was, there was something about it and now I am researching it. It said traders and I thought it meant trading in coffee or spices and then I realised it was trading in people.'

Ronnie inspected the disc, pointing to engraved writing around it that showed the name of a person, a ship and the inscription 'honest fellow'.

He revealed the name was of a slave trader and was unable to hide his fury and disgust, saying: 'A despicable human being. I think he was an indigenous trader, somebody from Nigeria. He wouldn't have been trading in his own people, it was another nation, another tribe. And then we have 'honest fellow'. I'd like to meet him and teach him how honest I think he is. These objects are really rare. I know of the existence of about half a dozen of these only. It's extraordinary. I mean, this is a document for living proof in a way, the surviving proof that this awful trade went on, and look how beautiful the calligraphy is. The beauty of the calligraphy, it just belies the awfulness of the message.'

The bangle was inscribed with the ship name 'Anna' and the year 1782, with the guest revealing that that particular ship contained 535 slaves.

Ronnie commented: 'Probably all stacked on top of each other, transported across the Atlantic for months on end.'The Abolition of Slavery Act wasn't until 1833, spearheaded by William Wilberforce, so this is long before that. This is over 50 years in advance of that, when the trade was rife. My great-grandmother was a returned slave from Nova Scotia in Canada and came back to Sierra Leone and I actually think it's my cultural duty, our cultural duty to talk about things like this. I just don't want to value it. I do not want to put a price on something that signifies such an awful business.'

He added: 'But the value is in the lessons that this can tell people. The value is in researching this and what we can find out and I just love you for bringing it to the Roadshow and thank you so much for making me so sad.'

Main Image :Copyright BBC Antiques Roadshow

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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