Monday, 17 August 2009

"Succinctly contrasts", but Mr Giedroyc gets it terribly wrong again

According to an ACG-affiliated coin collector writing on Moneta-L, the latest article (Iron Age Coin Find Ruled Treasure Trove) of Numismaster's master numismojournalist Richard Giedroyc of World Coin News "succinctly contrasts the real effect of England's Treasure Act with that of the laws of other countries"... (yawn). Sadly this assessment is a trifle overenthusiastic: the article is actually a poorly-researched heap of misleading nonsense.

When, oh when will American collectors and their mates learn the NAME of the Act which so appeals to them? Wickham Market is near the bottom on the left of that green bit across the water called "England", and the lumpier bit with the jaggedy edges at the top is another country called "Scotland". Scotland has legislation on Treasure Trove, England has....? England has, Mr Giedroyć, the 1996 Treasure Act. I don't expect it makes much difference to him. Not when he writes:

Suffolk Coroner Dr. Peter Dean declared the find to be treasure since the coins are more than 300 years old and were likely buried to be hidden with the intent to recover them later rather than being lost by their owner. [....] If, due to the nature of the find, the items found are determined to have been lost by chance, the finder takes possession of these items.
What? I suspect the influence of the 1965 Readers Digest Book of Buried Treasure here. That's the old law that went out in 1996! Thirteen years ago. What the Monetan correspondent finds so valuable (and yes, succinct) is this bit I presume:

At a time when countries such as Greece, Italy and Turkey have been enforcing laws banning the export of antiquities as being the cultural patrimony of these countries, the British treasure trove laws become even more relevant on the world stage as an example of how treasure finders can be encouraged to "do the right thing."
(Polite) words fail me, what has the Treasure Act got to do with "export"? Nothing, actually. Chalk and cheese. The English Treasure Act of course retains for the state these items "as being the cultural patrimony of the country" just as much as the laws of Greece, Turkey and Italy. Also Mr Giedroyc, instead of relying on ACCG handouts for information really should look into (for example) Greek heritage law concerning finds. He might find a surprise there. But then does he really mean Britain's (so that's Scotland then) Treasure TROVE laws? Because according to these, there is no division into "shiny gold/silver for the state - all the rest, who cares?" (which is I presume the wonder of the English legislation for the external collector of bronze coins and other decontextualised geegaws). No, in Scotland, the State wants to get its hands on all archaeological finds as it regards them all as the cultural patrimony of its citizens.

This article is sadly perfectly typical of the sort of shoddy research that goes into the anti-preservationist wafflings of the pro-collecting lobby, and which members of the latter propagate among collectors and try to foist off on the general public, totally misinforming them. Let's see if any well-informed Monetan queries the account of the workings of the English Treasure Act given in the article recommended to them so highly.

ADDENDUM 19th Aug: well it seems none of them noticed. So much for their knowledge of the laws which apply to their hobby which they like to portray as a scholarly "discipline".

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