Published On: Fri, May 16th, 2014 on 3:39 pm

The Bradford collector who treasures 2000-year-old artefacts

Nafees Nazir Antique Collector

Mr Nazir with a collection of valuable rings, some dating back 2000 years ago

Nafees Nazir Antique Collector

A 1000-year-old chess piece, believed to date back to the Fatimid Dynasty

Nafees Nazir Antique CollectorNafees Nazir Antique Collector

An antique collector from Bradford has shown his collection of artefacts that you may think belong in a museum instead.

45-year-old Nafees Nazir from Heaton, has been collecting artefacts and treasures for 25 years and has been to auctions up and down the whole of the UK, including Scotland and Kent, just to buy items worth of value.

He has over 100 artefacts in his collection, with some estimated to be dating back 2000 years into Islamic and medieval history.

His passion for collecting started back in the 80s, when he walked into a flea market and picked up a book that was published 100 years ago and bought it for just 10 pence.

He told the Yorkshire Standard: “I thought how can I buy hardly anything for 10 pence, but can buy a 100 year old book? I started collected books from there as a teenager and built quite a library. Then I started collecting orientalist books, and still have quite a selection.

“From books I started collecting coins, and then not long after that I started focussing on Islamic antiques and antiquities. I had a fascination and it was a very absorbing hobby. I found it enriching to be aware of heritage too.”

Mr Nazir built on his collection for years, and now has an array of artefacts.

He has bronze and silver coins, with some originating from the time of the Persian Empire and some even depict emperors. As the early Islamic Empire expanded into the Byzantine lands, Muslims took the original coin designs and added Islamic phrases on them, which are still visible.

Kept safe in a collector’s pouch, the coins show signs of age and some have ‘chipping’ marks that show how people tried to take snippets out of the metal to keep.

Mr Nazir has 18ct gold earrings that are believed to have belonged to a wealthy child on the Syrian coast approximately 1200 to 1500 years ago, as well as 2000-year-old rings and beads.

He also has a rare 800-year-old incense burner from Persia, which was made as an example often referred to as a “trades man’s sample” and shows signs of age yet retains its intricate decoration.

One of his favourite pieces is a 1000-year-old chess piece made from alabaster stone, which he bought from a specialist dealer.

After researching, Mr Nazir concluded it was from the Fatimid Dynasty, in which an Islamic state spanned a large area of North Africa, from the Red Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west.

As well as collecting antiques, Mr Nazir has created a guide that warns amateur and expert collectors on how to avoid fake items and how to spot them.

He said: “I’ve seen someone pay £2400 for something that was made in the last 20 years and was a fake piece of metalwork said to be medieval. Seeing these kinds of things happening is distasteful, as someone’s hard-earned money has gone down the drain.

“So I wrote a 20-page guide to spotting fake antiques on internet auction sites, and people really benefit from it. I’ve had great feedback and one person even came to me saying they paid £500 for something and it turned out fake.”

About the Author

Hasan Faridi

- Hasan is the founder and editor-in chief of the Yorkshire Standard. A BA Hons graduate from the University of Huddersfield, he has over four years of experience in newspapers, magazines and radio.

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