Thursday, 12 February 2009
The Saga of the Uncleaned Coin
A few years ago Susan Headley wrote a text "The Saga of the Uncleaned Coin" which tells ancient coin collectors and afficionados of Balkan 'partifacts' precisely where the things they collect come from and how they get to the USA. Her point is actually to offset the claims of US sellers that what they are selling is "unsorted" and what rarities the buyer "might" find. It illustrates two things very clearly the first is how the hand picked artefacts at the "high end" of this lowdown dirty trade relate to the other offerings of US dealers and wholesale indiscriminate illegal metal detecting of archaeological sites in the source country. She also coyly hints at the nature of the groups involved in the trade which US collectors are financing by their indiscriminate purchases. The second thing it illustrates (since I know this is a well-known text) is that since its first publication, US collectors have had ample opportunity to find out where the objects on internet auction sites and in dealers' 'job lots' actually come from. Do they care? Obviously not. Not a bit.
Susan Headley is the founder of Uncleaned Ancient Coins Discussion Group and Ancient Bulk Marketplace, so I guess she knows something about where they come from. Of course she could not resist romanticising that her "reparatio" had been deposited in a hoard, though it is clear from her text that she envisages that having been deposited on a site where there are other archaeological settlement finds.
The text disappeared I think from the internet for a time, so it is good to see that the link posted in Nov 2005 still works.