Monday, 18 May 2009

English dugups, fresh from the soil, git 'em 'ere at 'onest Joe's

On his Numismatics and Archaeology blog, Nathan Elkins discusses two recently-offered lots of Roman coins cutely labelled by their sellers „English dugups”. He notes the relationship between these offers and the coin dealer-rhetoric urging other nations to adopt the “British system”.
Elkins notes lots of coins offered by sellers Joe Blazick (caesars12 on eBay) and Tony Jaworski of Common Bronze, selling unwashed, unrecorded coins from Suffolk. Neither offer seems to mention the existence of an export licence (which of course, being the declared products of direct excavation, by law their export without one is totally illegal). The coins shown by Elkins are anything but "unsorted" and "unwashed". Given the existence of the PAS in Britain and the general support it has among the numismatic community, why would any ethical dealer be dealing in unrecorded ancient coins from England? Why would any ethical collector buy them? This stinks.

Elkins rightly emphasizes that “schemes like the PAS are not effective solutions against systematic looting as long as dealers and collectors refuse to conduct any degree of due diligence”. He points out that “the PAS […] is not a license to loot systematically in order to provide masses of material for market consumption” (though some of us would say that whatever the original intent, in effect, through its current “partnership” with artefact hunters, that is precisely what it turns out to be).

It seems to me whether "friend of numismatics" or not, the PAS should be in touch with Messers Blazick and Jaworski tomorrow to find out where those coins came from and what documentation they have that they were obtained legally from their finder and the landowner(s). I doubt though that they will.
Photo: and where do no-questions asked dealers get the coins from? who knows where they come from and how?

1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

Canadian coin collector John Hooker writes:
There's some amusing reports on the usual anti-collecting blogs about some Roman coins being sold that were metal detected in Suffolk . (“anti-collector”? No, “anti-no-questions-asked-collector”)

Apparently Hooker thinks it is unlikely that the coins mentioned here were dug up from very deep, so they do not matter. I somehow think he has totally missed the point.

He confidently predicts: “Undoubtedly, more amusing stories will "surface" as a result of this post” which presumably means he is deliberately baiting those of us advocating archaeological resource preservation measures. No, there will not be any “amusing stories” on the basis of a single post on a numismatic discussion list which misses the point about what was being said and repeats generally known facts about metal detectors (unless you are a North American coin collector that is, most of them do not seem to know anything much about anything).

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