.Further on the subject of the imagined "rights" of US coin collectors and what they actually do with the items they collect - I came across the "Story of Saddam's (sic) coins" (quoted below without the copious links to Wikipedia - unlike the American sellers of this war booty, I assume my readers know where Iraq is and who its former leader was):
In the spring of 2003, US and British coalition soldiers in Iraq were called upon to secure the banks in Basra, Iraq from looters. The soldiers found Iraqi coins, most of which were were melted down for scrap metal content, however, there was one exception. A group of British soldiers led by Captain Chris McGinley & Reservist Robert Brannagan found roughly 70,000 pounds of brilliant un-circulated Iraqi coins that were decommissioned by Saddam Hussein at the end of the first Gulf War. [...] In late 2004, through an unbelievable string of connections and coincidences that can only be described as divine intervention; the Products for Good team was offered the opportunity to purchase the entire collection of Saddam's coins. The team immediately acted on the opportunity and developed a plan to [...] sell what had at one time been Saddam's property to create good works for as many people as possible. A product line was designed that would display the coins in a patriotic and high quality fashion. Using the coins themselves, in a beautifully designed frame, surrounded by pictures, memorabilia and quotes that honor and reflect the sacrifices made by our military to protect our freedoms. [...] In keeping with the mission to help as many Americans as possible with this project, Products for Good chose to assemble the shadowboxes at the Cleveland Vocational Industries.It seems these "patriotic" boxed sets do not contain images of the country of origin of the coins, but its American-led invasion and conquest. Since Basra was under British control, it would be interesting to know from whom the coins were (by "divine providence") purchased by this US organization apparently after the June 2004 handover of control from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the Iraqi puppet government. Somehow the US producers of collectors' geegaw "patriotic shadowboxes" (50- 150$), golfball markers (20$) and ready to wear numismojewellery (100$) fail to mention.
The only specific authorisation the website mentions it has for the posession of these coins is: "A letter of approval was drafted August 9, 2003 by FE Castle, commanding officer of the 19 Mechanized Brigade at the British Brigade Field Administration Office Headquarters". But what specific authority did tank-commander Castle actually have to apportion Iraqi war loot? To the Americans in "late 2004" too?
The above account suggests the coins were initially auctioned off - we are presumably meant to understand as numismatic specimens ( Can anyone supply a link to this alleged "London auction"?). Other accounts have the British instead shipping the material away and selling the items seized to a "London metals company". The weight involved is 31751 kg. Are there really no scrap metal dealers anywhere in the near East? Perhaps the tommies thought the metal was parts of those legendary " weapons of mass destruction", which is why they were taken away all the way to London? Otherwise it is difficult to see how this action complies with international law concerning war booty. Maybe somebody from these soldiers' unit would like to explain this with reference to international law?
The sellers of these collectors' geegaws stress how much "good" for Americans comes from the use of these trophy coins (formerly property of the Iraqi government and people not "Saddam") deriving from the US-led invasion of a sovereign country. There is not however any mention made of any proceeds from these trophy collectors' products (like some of the other 80% of the proceeds) going to people in Iraq injured by coalition military action, made homeless, lost jobs and loved ones. These are Iraqi coins taken from the Iraqi bank reserves during a military occupation by British troops in a manner that is unclear and ended up making a profit for a US organization. Frankly, it matters not a bit what a percentage of those profits are used for.
By the way the exact duplicates of the coins themselves, same mint, same dates, same minting authority, can be bought by collectors perfectly legitimately on ebay or wherever for a few cents - but without the "patriotic" (read imperialist) claptrap.
I suppose it is only a matter of time before we see the "Internationalist" US ancient coin dealers producing "patriotic shadow boxes" with eagles and maps of expanding empires with Roman coins glued into them, Emperor Constantine golf-ball markers, and Gallic Empire coctail swizzle sticks. We already have lots of the wearable numismojewellery geegaws, including those produced by a subsidiary firm of one of their number.
Photos: from the vendor's website: "Products for good".