25 Oct 2014
September 20, 2012 - Filed under: Antiques News — Richard

Lancashire residents visiting Oxford had the chance to see what the contents of their antique cabinets were really worth, when the Ashmolean Museum let them use one of its state-of-the-art research machines.

Tens of thousands of people celebrated Oxford’s culture and heritage on the 8th and 9th September, when the Oxford Preservation Society held its annual Open Doors weekend, in association with the Heritage Open Days festival. Events took place at venues across the city, including the Ashmolean Museum, where visitors had the unique opportunity to use the same X-ray Fluorescence machine used by the museum’s researchers.

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology is the world’s oldest university museum, with extensive collections of Pre-Raphaelite art, antique scientific instruments, Majolica pottery, English silverware, coins, medals and antiquities. Much of the most important work goes on at the museum’s Research and Conservation department, where a range of high-tech investigation methods are used to scan, date and examine rare precious artefacts. In the case of coins and other metallic objects, this is done through X-Ray Fluorescence. During the Open Doors weekend, visitors had the chance to use this machine themselves on objects they had unearthed from their attics, gardens and antique cabinets.

Cumbrian metal detector enthusiasts regularly turn up important archaeological finds, such as the fantastic Crosby Garrett Mask, found in 2010 and sold for £2m. However, you don’t need a state-of-the-art XRF machine to determine the origins of the silverware in your antique cabinet. A Preston antique dealer, armed with a monocular loupe and working knowledge of hallmarks, can do the job just as well.

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