Saturday, 17 December 2011

Focus on the CCPIA: The Author, Paphos and Alex

Coiney Edward Cohen has submitted two public comments to the CPAC. the first he begins with: "I am the author of "Dated Coins of Antiquity" published this year, 2011 [...] I could not have produced my book with the proposed restrictions on their importation to the US" In other words, is he saying that his study was based on data gathered from material which would not have had "documentation of lawful export" - in other words data of potentially illicit origin? What kind of scholarship is that? What other branches of US scholarship would tolerate publication of such a study?

Here is another one who thinks that to stem illicit exports:
The Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme must be tried first in Cyprus. It has worked immensely well in Great Britain by preserving the integrity of freshly discovered coin hoards for both study by researchers and subsequent sale to the coin market. Refer to the United Kingdom report on their website: [Treasure and Portable Antiquities Scheme reports unearth fascinating finds]
In passing: how many of these new English hoards have ended up being sold on the market (and how many of those coins will retain that provenance in the hands of collectors over the next few decades)? Most of them seem to be being acquired by museums at the moment. How many of these new English hoards actually HAVE been fully studied by numismatic researchers and that study fully published?

More importantly, once again
[sigh] it needs to be explained to coineys like Mr Cohen (though I would hope NOT the CPAC) that the PAS and Treasure Act have absolutely NO CONNECTION with either Britain's implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention or the combating of unlawful export of archaeological material from England and Wales.

Of course, it would be too much to expect that the PAS would ever write to its numismatic "friends" overseas actually explaining what it does, and does not, do and sort out this convenient confusion once and for all. That would be too much like real archaeological outreach, best to leave the collectors confused, eh?

Why is this happening? Firstly the dealers and their lobbyists, like the infamous Mr Tompa are telling coineys at every opportunity all this reason-fogging stuff about the CCPIA and CPAC (in Tompa's case, on behalf of the dealers' associations he represents). That's one factor. That would not have the effects we observe if it were not for the other. It is quite probable that US-based coineys do not know very much about this PAS and Treasure Act from first hand experience, that is understandable. What however is not at all easy to comprehend is how a whole group of them can solemnly advise a body representing their own government something on the basis of unchecked hearsay. WHY are they not checking what the "PAS" does and DOES NOT DO before they send a public comment to an official advisory body like this? Is it misplaced trust in the dealers' lobbyists, gullibility, weak logic, stupidiocy, laziness or irresponsibility? Or a combination of all six? Beats me why people believe and repeat such stuff when the ability to check it out is a mere mouse-click away.

Mr Cohen's second (!) comment concerns:
The Ptolemaic tetradrachms stuck in Alexandria, Egypt and in Paphos used the identical mintmark, the Greek letters PI-A. These coins are notoriously difficult to tell apart. If this MOU is approved, then all tetradrachms of Alexandria, Egypt could be mistakenly denied entrance to the United States. This is not the intent of the Cyprus MOU.
The only reason they'd be denied entrance to the United States is if they do not have documentation of lawful export. What Mr Cohen means is that - given the fact that most coin dealers and collectors do not give a tinker's for the provenance and collecting history of the goods they shunt around the international market like potatoes - a coin of this type of Alexandria without documentation of lawful export would potentially be stopped by US Customs in the mistaken belief that it is a coin of Paphos with no documentation of lawful export.

But then, there are those of us who believe that MOU or not, the import of unlawfully exported coins from Egypt (or anywhere else in the region which has similar legislation) should not be considered as "licit". That is, after all - whether or not the coineys accept it or not - precisely what article 3 of the UNESCO Convention says. That is the measure by which they will be judged by anybody from any country (apart from, that is, the Wild West of the USA) which is a state party to that Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. In any case, hopefully that loophole will soon be closed when the US finally formalises some kind of an agreement not to allow unlawfully obtained items from Egypt free passage into the US (both countries having been state parties to the 1970 UNESCO Convention for some time).

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