Friday, 22 May 2009

Stuck for words Mr Tompa?

Peter Tompa comments on Nathan Elkins’ post on the bulk lots of “English dugups” coins being sold on the US market. He says "I suspect it is quite possible that there was no legal obligation to report the coins " which is quite missing the point of what Nathan Elkins was saying.

What however is astounding (yes, I mean that) is a comment underneath Tompa's post made by US coin collector Voz Earl two days ago.

I think the constant emphasis of some on UK export licenses is misguided. Aren't we really talking about mere red tape here? The idea that someone will go through the trouble to get an export license every time he sends a low-value coin overseas is rather unrealistic. As far as legal infractions go it's about
as heinous as jaywalking or breaking the speed limit. If a coin and its context have been recorded in the PAS database, an export license does not add any further knowledge of use to archaeologists or numismatists.
Yes, that is right, that is what he said. Somewhat missing the point and displaying complete ignorance of the purpose of the export licence process. But then quite typical if the ACCG is busily telling its members that such laws are "bad laws" imposed by "nationalist governments".

So what was the reply of the Washington lawyer? We are still waiting. Stuck for words, Mr Tompa? Let me help you, lex dura sed lex.

If one is going to collect antiquities from other countries, at least have the decency to abide by their laws in doing so. That goes for items originating from excavations in the UK as well as items coming from Cyprus and China. Or to put it another way, why advocate obeying the export laws with regard items from Britain (as I hope Mr Tompa would) but ignoring those concerning objects from Cyprus and China (which the ACCG is currently advocating and indeed actually deliberately did at Baltimore airport in April).

Mr Earl’s comment does not violate the Code of Ethics of the ACCG which only talks of the laws in the BUYER’s own country, so this collector who sees no point in export licences even from the UK runs no risk of being drummed out of the Ancient Coin Collectors’ Guild for expressing such sentiments. Nevertheless that then raises the question of whether this is the kind of collector that the ACCG is representing.

A statement by the former President of the ACCG would, I think, be appreciated - not least by all those "Friends of US numismatists" in the UK. Would Mr Tompa advise collectors to respect the UK export licence procedure with regard archaeological finds or ignore it I wonder?


Cultural Property Observer said...

In response to your post, please see:

Paul Barford said...

I am going to post Mr Tompa's reply here, for two reasons, he might delete it (one above it has already gone) - which would be a shame, and visiting his site may not be everybody's cup of tea.

What he said was:
Apparently, Mr. Barford can't read, which is not all that surprising as he more interested in scoring points in his own mind as much as anything else. My original post said this:

Though I disagree with Nathan's tone and some of his conclusions, I do agree with his main point that artifacts found in the UK should be properly recorded and exported consistently with UK law.

On the other hand, following up on Voz's comment, I do wonder whether British authorities would really like to be inundated with export licenses for the material that is discussed here and whether the bother of seeking an export license for such items makes it unlikely even honest people will comply.

Certainly, the even more onerous requirement of seeking export licenses for any and all materials over 50 years old from countries like Italy is probably honored mostly in its breach. See: I wonder how many archaeologists have violated this particular stricture when they travel from Italy or other countries with similar laws.

Now that I have responded to Mr. Barford's question, perhaps he can prevail upon his friend Professor Gill to enlighten us whether he has received any funding from source countries like Greece or related entities. That question would seem to be more pertinent as to the integrity of those who demand complete transparency from other private individuals with regard to private transactions.

Well, first of all, I can read. I can read enough to see that Tompa has not quite answered the question (as one might expect, given their reputation, from a lawyer).

As for the what British "authorities would like" - I guess what they'd like is enshrined in the laws they passed. As for how many people comply with them, Mr Tompa could look at the annual reports - he'd (probably) be surprised.

David Gill can do what he wants as far as I am concerned, if Tompa wants him to tell him something about his financial affairs, Tompa can ask him nicely himself. I certainly will not be "prevailing" on him to do anything ... The very idea!!

Paul Barford said...

Oh, I feel another conspiracy theory coming along....

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