Former CPAC member Robert B. Korver has an article out in the coiney press under the inflammatory and oddly punctuated title "Congratulations! Your government believes... If You Collect, Coins You Are No better Than A Tomb Robber" (Celator June 2011, pp 30-32) supposedly to illustrate that its not just the brown-skinned folk which US coineys want to relieve of their archaeological heritage who have corrupt governments. All it shows me is how unsuitable the choice of Korver was as a Presidential advisor on cultural heritage in the first place - but we all know the younger President Bush was ill-served by his advisers in many areas. The text is the typical loosely structured ranty numismatic cant that we are used to meeting when coin fondlers get all riled up. If this is typical of the way Korver addressed fellow Commitee members, one can imagine he was not met with much understanding. Korver describes his exit from the CPAC in the following words: "Once the lunatics figured out how to seize control of the asylum, it was time to quit". I wonder that with his extreme coiney views expressed in overtly anti-archaeological and anti-establishment ACCG-lingo, it was not politely suggested to Korver that he had outstayed his welcome as a cultural "adviser".
Let's have a look at a few typical passages:
"Imagine today America claiming all $100 bills circulating abroad as our "cultural patrimony"...' is supposed to be an analogy to source countries objecting to the illegal export of archaeological material to fuel the US market.
"These MOUs are not your friend" - they restrict the number of illegally exported antiquities US importers can bring into the country. The point is of course that the MOUs were not designed to be the "friend" of those who wanted to profit from foreign criminal activity, were they? Surely that was the whole point of them?
"I was asked by the Bush White House to join the CPAC in July of 2003, and I served the interests of the collecting community faithfully" - note not objectively advising the state on the cultural matters under consideration as part of a team of eleven members. Mr Korver seems to project here the image of somebody who imagines he alone was a one-man CPAC, and one furthermore with a mission to place the interests of the dealers in ancient dugups before that of the protection of the cultural heritage, rather than seek some kind of responsible compromise.
We remember an earlier text in which Korver suggested the place for the CPAC is not the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State, but the Department of Commerce(!) This casts considerable doubt about his view of what the Committee's tasks actually were.
"Just in case nobody else has told you this before, professional archaeologists own ancient history, not criminals like you". It is odd that Korver thought the subject of CPAC deliberations was "who owns history" and not the US taking a moral lead and doing its part to combat the erosion of the world's historical record and the depletion of another country's cultural property due to illegal activity. I do not think anyone considers coin collectors to all be "criminals", just the one who knowingly and carelessly buy illicitly-obtained dugup artefacts. They are the real looters of the past and make its study by more responsible amateurs as well as professionals of this and future generations impossible. This is why the US - one of the world's largest markets for this kind of material - should be taking the moral lead and trying to curb this. They are not going to be able to do this if a member of the CPAC is by his own admission sitting there continually "advising" the rest that the US should not be doing this because - as he admits above - his loyalties lie with the no-questions-asked market (Korver is a Director of Heritage Auctions, America's largest collectibles auctioneer and third largest auction house in the world - turnover last year $716,664,649 including ancient coins of unclear provenance and collecting history).
Like all the rest of the "Cultural Propert Internationalists" spawned by the ACCG movement, Korver (p. 31) "much prefers Britain's Portable Treasure scheme which allows duplicate material to enter the market". The former "cultural expert" appointed by Bush can't even get the name of his preferred system right. Its the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which "allows" nothing; that is Britain's legislation (the Scheme is a result of the legislation not the other way round Mr Korver, and neither has anything to do with "duplicates"). The Treasure Act is something else, and has nothing to do with "duplicates". One would have thought that the guy could have found out more at least in the years after his appointment to the role of expert advisor, about how these things work. Another reason perhaps for us thinking that Mr Korver was an unsuitable candidate for the role to which George Dubbya appointed him.
Korver says that "CPAC guided previous administrations in their response to the cultural property demands (sic - "requests" is the word Mr Korver) made by foreign governments, and had previously agreed that while the import of certain antiquities and works of art should be relegated, ancient coins should be exempt from such restrictions". On the grounds presumably that they are neither antiquities nor works of art being looted? - surely some mistake? In point of fact, Bolivia, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mali and Peru are not noted for being source countries of ancient coins. That is the reason why these coins were not in the MOUs reached with those nations, Mr Korver. One might have thought that a presidential appointee as cultural advisor would have understood that.
As further justification why nobody should be concerned about the illicit movement of cultural property, Korver - who claims he himself has been trained in "ethno-history" - trots out the "Petrarch collected coins argument". He threatens coineys that one day he "may write a history of how archaeologists who stand on the shoulders of two centuries of numismatic research (sic) have turned on their former friends". I suggest he does not bother if it is going to be as Amerocentric and full of ranty bluster and mistakes as the text he wrote for the coiney broadsheet "Celator". It should be noted that there are three adverts for Californian dugup coin dealers in the body of his article.