Memorandum on Valuation of Treasure

A memorandum on the definition of 'value' as understood and practiced by the

Treasure Valuation Committee

29 May 2012

Instruction: The role of the Treasure Valuation Committee (TVC) in recommending a monetary value for items declared Treasure is defined in paragraphs 65-70 of the Treasure Act 1996 Code of Practice (CoP). This is for the purpose of paying a reward to interested parties for finding and reporting items of treasure.

Definitions: Paragraph 10.(4) of the Treasure Act 1996 says 'The total reward must not exceed the treasure's market value'. To that end, the CoP tasks the TVC with determining the market value of a treasure find in the following way:

'to recommend to the Secretary of State valuations for items brought before it which correspond as closely as possible, taking account of all relevant factors, to what may be paid for the object(s) in a sale on the open market between a willing seller and a willing buyer' - Paragraph 65

The TVC understands market value to be most closely reflected in the 'hammer' price which a treasure might be expected to fetch at auction. This is because an auction represents an open market, and the hammer price is an agreeable figure for both the seller and the buyer. In drawing the parallel with an auction, the TVC does not include in its valuation consideration of a 'premium' which might be paid in addition to the hammer price in a real auction nor the vendor's commission.

This definition of market value is understood by the TVC to differ from, and to be lower than, a retail price. A retail price is the value that a retailer would sell an item for to a consumer, and is inflated by incorporating overhead costs and a margin, allowing for the retailer to profit from the sale. Items for sale on dealer's lists, in coin and antiquity fairs or in shops are usually offered at a retail price and references such as Spink's Coins of England and the United Kingdom or Benet's Artefacts of England and the United Kingdom also give valuations at retail price


- Conservation - According to the CoP, 'the valuation will be as at the time of finding of the object and in the condition in which it was found (see also paragraph 47). It is expected that the Committee will be aware of the potential value of the object in its conserved state, after the deduction of notional cleaning and conservation costs' (para 66).

The majority of objects are not cleaned or conserved in any way prior to being seen by the TVC, but some items, such as coins, may require cleaning in order to be properly identified. In attempting to understand the potential value of an object in its conserved state, and the effect of this on the current market value, the TVC uses its experience and may call on the advice of professionals with respect to the ease or difficulty and the cost of conservation operations.

- Export Licensing - The TVC will not take into consideration any possible impact on the value of the find resulting from the UK Export Licensing regime on the hammer price.