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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Is selling Somme Relics legal?


hillgorilla
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Fair in Albert on 23rd.

Mick

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60,000 tons per year? Yikes! Those who deliberately nick UX ordnance are surely prime candidates for the Darwin Award.

Rob

I forgot to add the 60,000 tons is just the Somme, I don't know what weight of shells are cleared around Arras, Ypers, Verdun etc but the overall total in France and Belgium must be huge. I think a thread a while ago highlighted a Belgian depot holding many thousands of gas shells too dangerous to dispose of. It's a big problem.

Gunner Bailey

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I've looked in on this thread now & again for some time &,in response to the original question,yes.

Selling Somme relics is legal,depending on what.

The sale of safe ordnance & bayonettes etc.is not allowed at the Albert museum.

are they not allowed? i bought a mauser bayonet a couple years ago at the Albert museum. they had a lot of bayonets on sale then as well as brass shell cases, knives, entrenching tools, helmets, etc.

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Guest KevinEndon

Due to government clampdowns in France, selling relics is illegal, Dave should vouch for this.

We were at a museum and I wanted to buy a shell and a nose cone for a pom pom. The shell was no problem but the staff at the museum made a bit of a fuss when it came to the nose cone. The musuem staff said that under no circumstances did I buy or get the nose cone from the museum and that I found it on the battlefield. The staff member came up to me and we were talking, he was still going on that I found it on the battlefield. I was awaiting for him to give it to me knowing full well I had found it. The staff bloke said I had better go outside quick and look under the nearest tree so that I was infact really finding the nose cone in the battlefield. I paid for the brass shell and got the nose cone for free. Result.

The musuem was either in France or Belgium as I don't want to drop the staff in it.

We were told that even selling military bikes was now illegal. I don't know if the French polis are clamping down or if its just one of those laws that no one takes notice of. Maybe Dave or Mick or any of our French/Belgium residents can confirm the law.

Kevin

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Here are some extract from the French Right texts (sorry it is in French): http://www.la-detection.com/loi.htm

It stipulates that metal detection is strictly forbidden in 4 French "départements": la Meuse, l'Aisne, l'Oise (60) & la Somme (80) for safety reasons (presence of ammo due to the last 2 WW), plus some places such as Verdun, Mantes-la-Jolie (near Paris), the Normandy & Provence Beaches.

Once again the Law is clear: the use of metal detectors for Historic, Prehistoric, Art or Archeology matters is absolutely prohibited. Anyone using one detector for one of these purposes has to ask for a special & official autorization (whether in a public or private place).

For any other reason (what is called "Passion researches" or Leasure activities with no historic purposes), the use of a metal detector in public places (other than Historic monuments/places or battlefields) is legally authorized, even in your own property!! If you want to do that in a private place other than yours, you must ask the owner for his permission.

Eventually, if you find anything which has something to do with History, Prehistory, Art or Archeology, you must declare what you've found.

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are they not allowed? i bought a mauser bayonet a couple years ago at the Albert museum. they had a lot of bayonets on sale then as well as brass shell cases, knives, entrenching tools, helmets, etc.

Indeed! I bought two bayonets there just last summer! (A French one and an English one)

It can't be forbidden, as they were openly exhibited, with the price sticked on it...

Anyway I noticed that each one had a code number sticked on it, and than when I bought them they registered their codes on a book. It's possible that this is done to "keep trace" of what is sold, and that only relics with known origin can be sold legally.

Elena

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There are many fairs in France where you can purchase relics, also some of the museums have little shops where they sell a few bits and bobs. There's no chance that you would get in any sort of trouble if you purchased something as simple as a rusty bayonet in France from one of the fairs or shops. It is different if you collect them yourself from the battlefields, as explained a lot of it is on private property and unless you get permission to look on the surface you could get in a lot of trouble as a lot of locals and police are a bit over the top with regards to this, although in their defence, I am sure they have seen some amazingly silly people risking their life for a simple dud 18pdr, instead of just buying a inert one for £20 from a fair.

As for the preservation of these relics, us collectors are probably the best way to ensure that these survive as the metal scrapyards over there are full of relic rifles, helmets, watercans etc etc. all to be destroyed.

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When on the Somme last week we were told that last year in particular many locals collected brass nose cones from fields as the metal was worth a fortune! Many 1000s ended up in different scrap yards including one in Fricourt. Value has now gone down so should be some left for us treasure seekers!

Tony

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Belgium ain't France, and locals ain't tourists.

Hi there,

It's illegal to dig in France, and the land under surface is still the property of the State. So, digging and selling artefacts is not allowed, and there is no legal property under the ground.

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  • 5 weeks later...
Hi there,

It's illegal to dig in France, and the land under surface is still the property of the State. So, digging and selling artefacts is not allowed, and there is no legal property under the ground.

Sorry, but that has to be wrong. As has been previously stated in this thread - here are some facts / corrections to many erroneous statements in this long long thread.

You cannot use a metal detector on battlefields or other historic sites. In areas such as Verdun the authorities are very strict about this. They have much experience of people being blown up by WW1 relics. In one such case in March 2007 a young man was killed in Verdun trying to defuse a large WW1 German Mortar Bomb. Police found 3.5 tons of shells at his house.

You can use a metal detector on non historic ground as long as you have the permission of the landowner and in many cases the local mayor.

Metal detectors are legal to own in France and are sold in many outlets.

It is a recognised hobby in France and has a number of monthly magazines devoted to it. In one article I have read in such a magazine, the detectorist was scanning spoil heaps from road works and finding roman and later artifacts. There was no intervention by the authorities and this was in the centre of a large town (i.e done in full view of everyone)

If selling dug up artefacts was illegal the police would be at every Bourse aux Armes in France as about 10% of the content of these fairs is dug up. At one local Brocante I bought some dug up items from one of the local Policeman, who was selling off some of his collection of Somme relics!!!!

There are also collectors fairs where archeological finds are sold. This would also be impossible if the statement were true.

Gunner Bailey

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