Thursday, 25 February 2010

More Character Assassination from Californian Coin Dealer

On the Ancient Artifacts discussion list the question of the source of information for the 350 000 coins of my earlier posts is now the subject of query. Californian coin dealer Dave Welsh points out that the reference I gave (from several I could have chosen) was to Nathan Elkins' recent article - the one which a major ACCG lobbyist admits he cannot be bothered to read. So what was Dave Welsh's reaction to a fellow list member and collector making reference to the fact that concrete figures had been quoted in the discussion? Predictable I suppose:
I think it important and relevant to point out that Nathan Elkins is not regarded by anyone on the pro-collecting side of the issue as having much real expertise in numismatics, and is viewed as being very far from an authoritative source. If you are going to cite "evidence" please first take the trouble to ascertain that it is CREDIBLE evidence. Citation of a non-expert, highly biased source does not in any way do that. So what is the real, verifiable, independently confirmed evidence sustaining your assertion?
When he was doing the research and writing on the ancient coin market in the US, Nathan Elkins was working in the numismatic department in Frankfurt University, where he conducted several seminars and other teaching and carried out research. Mr Welsh trained as an engineer. Nathan Elkins now works in the numismatic collection at Yale University, looking at what he writes one might doubt whether Welsh would have had a chance of even attending Yale, let alone working there. To my knowledge Nathan Elkins has published a number of articles on numismatic topics in peer-reviewed numismatic and archaeological journals (to find out how many you'd have to ask Nathan but includes several in Numismatic Chronicle and the JFA article). To the best of my knowledge Welsh, who dignifies his shopkeeping with the title "professional numismatist", has never published any numismatic articles in any peer-reviewed numismatical journal (the popular magazine "Celator" and a few desultory pages of so-called "educational" material on his website seem the limits of his ability to contribute to the literature of the discipline). Elkins has taken part in a number of international numismatic events where the name of the Californian "professional numismatist" was conspicuous by its absence. Somebody has to look after the shop I suppose. Elkins has a numismatic blog (Numismatics and Archaeology), far more informative about the academic study of coins than what Welsh offers on his "Ancient Coins" blog. I really am puzzled therefore by the ease with which Welsh dismisses his colleague as "not having much real expertise in numismatics". Nathan Elkins seems to be getting along in the discipline a good deal better and contributing far more than the embittered shopkeeper.

The sources for the coin seizure tale? Well, Nathan was in Frankfurt Germany and the coins were stopped by German authorities in... Frankfurt Germany. I know Mr Elkins has had the opportunity to verify the story at first hand, rather difficult for Welsh to do from Goleta, CA. The case was also discussed in the numismatic forums. It is odd though that on those forums, there is not a word out of Welsh questioning the veracity of the reports. The case was discussed in textbox 7 on page 186 of the report Shentov et al 2007, "Organized Crime in Bulgaria, Markets and Trends" Sofia, Center for the Study of Democracy. It has also been discussed by Reinhard Dietrich [Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst] in his 2002 article "Cultural Property on the Move — Legally, Illegally" in the International Journal of Cultural Property (2002), 11 : 294-304 [Cambridge University Press]. There is a Bulgarian text (found online by Voz Earl) za kontrabandata Filcevija brat here that discusses the case, including a transcript of a letter from Dr. D. Dittrich who seems to be the head of the department that issues export permits for the Ministry of Culture in Frankfurt. It was written in March, 2001 as a reply to an inquiry from a Bulgarian official, so I think we can accept that the information there is more than just hearsay. This case was discussed in no less than three articles by Nathan Elkins which were the subject of extremely critical review a few months back on the coiney discussion list Moneta-L, but the facts of this case were not even challenged by the several thousand "ancient numismatists" gathered on that forum (some of whom presumably have had dealings with the individual to whom the coins were sent). They are a querulous lot and could be relied on to attack this point, were it one of the weak points of Nathan's arguments. The fact that it was not perceived as such seems to me to be not without significance - it too is a type of numismatic peer review. So for eleven years now this story has gone as far as I can see unchallenged by any US coin collector or numismatist. Until now, Mr Welsh publicly expresses his personal doubts as part of his campaign to prove me a "liar". On what grounds?

It is only now that the CPRI has produced an overall estimate of the number of coins in private hands in the US that the number "350 000 coins" becomes significant, and only now does Dave Welsh see the need to query it on behalf of the ACCG and US coin collectors. It seems the only answer that comes into his head is to attack the credibility of those that have noticed that there is something not at all right in the US no-questions-asked market in dugup coins which he is on a mission to defend to the death.

UPDATE 1st march 2010
Mr Welsh informs Ancientartifactists that he has in fact gone to a Jesuit high school and then went on to a Jesuit (?) university and passed through three others before getting an engineering degree. My apologies for saying I did not think he had been to university. Engineering is normally taught in technical colleges where I come from. He then proceeds to point out that despite not having much in the way of numismatic publications to his name, he still regards himself a "better numismatist" than Elkins, so there!
My post however was not about Mr Welsh, but his attempted character assassination of Mr Elkins. There is no apology in Welsh's reply to Mr Elkins, so it seems the Jesuits failed to teach him any humility, though among the useful life skills he picked up was the ability to "converse in Church Latin". Whoopee.


David Gill said...

Such comments from Dave Welsh are quite in character. Can I remind you of a parallel exchange? It is significant that Wayne Sayles came to his defence in that case.
Best wishes

John said...

Thanks for the reference to N. Elkins' blog, very informative

Paul Barford said...

I note that in the link about the hideous award he received (in Baltimore no less) for "exceptionally meritorious Service" it says "Dave is engaged daily in the affairs of the ACCG and is at the center of the guild’s resistance to import restrictions." Presumably these attacks are part of the ACCG "strategy" to which he is so "central".

Paul Barford said...

John, down the left margin are a series of links to other blogs and web-resources. Nathan's blog has always been linked there.

Do take a look at some of the other sites accessible from there for a more rounded look. Down the bottom you will find the blogs of the Black Hat Guys who buy and sell archaeological material and defend no-questions-asked collecting.

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