Friday, 15 May 2009

„Collectors Guild” shows how much it cares

The Ancient Coin Collecting blog of Wayne Sayles the Executive Director of the Ancient Coin Collectors’ Guild” (ACCG) has long since stopped having any titbits about ancient coins per se. It now contains a response to my posts here and here and on Nathan Elkins’ blog (here) concerning the recent stunt the ACCG performed with the attempted illegal import into the USA of some unprovenanced ancient coins.

Readers of the blog posts referred to will know that among the points made were (a) whether deliberately engaging in illegal action is really the best way to convince public opinion that US ancient coin collectors are responsible law-abiding folk, (b) that this action is clearly against the “code of ethics” of the ACCG which is thereby shown to be worthless, and (c) this attempted illegal act should rightfully lead to investigations of the stockrooms of dealers associated with this ACCG action and maybe some of their client-supporters.

Anyhow, Mr Sayles is having none of that. He “replies” to our observations only by discussing whether the ACCG really represents all 50 000 US collectors of ancient coins (his estimate) and not just those of no-questions-asked dealers. Sayles claims the provocative act of attempted illegal import represents the will of 5000 coin collectors affiliated to the Guild (really? Is it too much to ask to have a referendum whether they really do support openly illegal acts by the dealers representing them? How many of them were actually informed beforehand of the nature of "stage two" of the Grand Scheme?).

It seems Mr Sayles feels it is beneath him to actually address these points, not even for the benefit of those of his Guild's members who might be wondering how he would answer them. His blog post instead totally avoids the issue and does not even have the courage of his convictions to supply the reader of his blog with the links to the posts to which he refers. After all, he can hardly have them actually referring back to the original posts and discovering that the ACCG Director is totally failing to answer the points made, can he?

It seems to me that just this sort of "response" is the best possible confirmation there could be that the ACCG is just losing it. The ACCG is not representing the interests of collectors at all, the ACCG are simply trying to protect the interests of dealers and the middlemen of the no-questions-asked antiquities market and their connections. The ACCG is unable to answer the points made about this stunt so its executive director simply tries to ignore them.
Let us note, in order that those 23 coins pass legally and legitimately through US customs, all that is needed is a piece of paper. That's all.

The ACCG still have the option of getting the piece of paper before their ninety days are up and save the spectacle of the portable antiquity collectors of the USA potentially getting soundly trounced. Otherwise they are going to have to raise another few thousand dollars by selling more unprovenanced coins supplied by US dealers eager to confront society with their demands to retain the damaging status quo of the no-questions-asked antiquities market.
Photo: The ACCG in action.



Robyn said...

Hi Paul,

Wayne Sayles thinks he represents the will of the 5000 members of the ACCG. What about the will of the millions of Federal Income Tax payers who's tax dollars will now have to fund his trial? Sure, ACCG funds will pay for their lawyer(I doubt Peter Tompa will do this for free) but who do you think will pay for the US governments side? WE WILL!! I hope when all is said and done, that the ACCG is ordered to pay all expenses incurred by the government to see this through.

If ever they have shown their organization to be self serving, this is it.

Paul Barford said...

Thanks for your comment. Well, firstly I wonder if the ACCG Executive Director had first asked his members specifically whether the ACCG should engage in illegal activity to provoke a reaction, what reply he would get? If US ancient coin collectors are anything like the ACCG makes them out to be, they'd say "no". If they'd have said yes, they support infringement of the law by coin dealers and collectors, then they do not deserve any respect at all and I agree with you that this case will show that.

Yes, it IS the US taxpayer that is going to be picking up the tab (already are of course, the ACCG/ PNG/ IAPN FOI is not being processed for free).

Whichever way the trial goes, collectors of portable antiquities in the US (not just the coin collecting part of it) will be the ultimate loser here - something the collectors might well wish to think about in the context of other processes going on at the moment. What happens "afterwards"? has anyone asked the ACCG what they think will happen afterwards (two versions: if they "win", or if they lose)?

Remember the State Department has lawyers too and I am willing to bet they are more numerous, a damn sight cleverer and more willing to serve government than any the ACCG can employ.

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