How much would you pay for the Sword of Excalibur?
That, of course, is the legendary sword used by the legendary King Arthur, and while it is probable that it never existed – at least not in the form we imagine – the possibility of its existence was teased again recently. That’s because of a recent finding that has led to comparisons – perhaps facile or wishful, perhaps not – of that mythical weapon. According to a recent report, “a medieval hand-and-a-half-long sword rammed into stone, discovered this summer at the bottom of the river Vrbas in Bosnia, has been hailed by experts as a significant archaeological find.”
Over in PYMNTS land – where we devour the old Sumerian myths like some people devour their breakfast – we got to wondering how much mythological objects might cost, and what the buying and selling process might look like after discovery. So we put on our Indiana Jones fedora, tilted it to the side to make us look cool and dashed off the archives of knowledge (mainly Google, but hey, we all need more adventure in our lives, right?)
Gold vs. Silver
The first finding?
An Excalibur sword would set you back $45.11 on Amazon, assuming you are not too hung up on getting the real object and can settle for a replica. But if you happen to be a stickler for accuracy, the real sword – at least according to certain researchers – has indeed been found in Tuscany of all places (quite a distance from England). That said, data about potential cost is still hard to come by, at least for this particular object. Just assume it would be somewhere between unaffordable and priceless, assuming it would even be available for sale.
As you might imagine, it can be difficult to fix the prices of objects that don’t exactly exist – or at least haven’t been proven to exist. But some people have tried, and other ideas can be gained from real but rare finds such as shipwrecks.
Take the portable tabernacle described in the Old Testament. Some sporting but anonymous figure on the internet a while back calculated that its total value would exceed $39 million — more specifically, at least $37.3 million in gold and $1.7 million in silver. Other estimates are nearly double that figure, underscoring the inherent difficulties of pricing things that may or may not have existed or may never be found.
‘Holy Grail’ Shipwreck
But what about shipwrecks?
They are certainly real, even if they are rotting away under tons of corrosive seawater.
Last year, news emerged that the so-called Holy Grail of shipwrecks was found off Colombia, “a 62-gun, three-masted Spanish galleon that sank during a battle with the British in 1708 while loaded down with billions of dollars of gold, silver and emeralds mined in Peru,” according to one report. The wreck was actually found in 2015 but was kept under wraps so that, according to the report, “governments, marine archaeologists and treasure hunters have to figure out who gets what” – a glimpse of the complex commerce, payment and disbursement process for objects that are relatively recent in origin.
Estimated value of that wreck?
Some $17 million.
That said, the trade in artifacts – while certainly a spark for the imagination – is most likely a fool’s errand, according to archaeologists and people who run auction houses. That’s because, according to one analysis of the matter, most so-called artifacts are fake – just another type of counterfeit good. When it comes to objects from mythology – well, you can certainly do the math on that one. And even if an object is not fake, buying and/or selling it is almost certainly going to involve breaking one or more national and perhaps even international laws (that’s the part they never really show you in all those Indiana Jones movies, though one assumes that any character played by Harrison Ford has his heart in the right place).
One big, flashing reason for that illegality? Trade in such objects often stems from conflict, theft and looting (think of all the stolen treasures of antiquity from the Middle East over the past decade or so), and those proceeds tend to fund terrorism and weaponry supplies.
The Sword’s True Value
Of course, price is not the only metric used to determine value, and that holds even for mythological objects such as the Sword of Excalibur – the pulling of which from the famous stone was said to determine the one true king. That’s a lot to invest in a single object, given that the one true king is free to set up the one true government and require everyone else to obey.
An analysis from the Foundation for Economic Education dug into that issue, finding the sword’s deeper value to be truly lacking. “There is nothing about social organization that requires this to be true,” that analysis said. “Instead of handing out swords, the lady of the lake should have become a merchant and sold stuff that people clearly needed more than a ruler, such as groceries, medicine or cash advances.”
There you go (perhaps): Don’t bother messing with the artifacts and mythological objects. Craft an idea, get a computer and start an online business ahead. Your prospects will be much better.