Thursday, 22 December 2011

"These People Are Americans, So You Cannot Criticise Them For What They Say!"

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With reference to my earlier polemic text "Focus on CCPIA: "Protrection of Cutural Heritage Treasures - Please stop it", which ended up being posted by someone to the Museum Security Network for discussion, I suppose I should respond to coin-dealer's-lobbyist Peter Tompa who sent a complaint to MSN List writing:
It is troubling that the Museum Security Network would republish Mr. Barford's efforts to ridicule American citizens and others who have responded to the US State Department's invitation to provide public comments regarding the proposed renewal of the Cypriot renewal. These individuals deserve far more respect than either Mr. Barford or the Museum Security Network have provided them. Shame on them both. Peter Tompa
This is what in a rather blunt, continental manner, Ton Cremers replied:
Very sensitive Mr Tompa. First you need to understand that the MSN or it's moderators are by no means responsible for the contents of messages to the list. All we do is scan whether the contents of messages is relevant to the subject matters of this list. You have several options in case you do not agree with the contents: 1. write an argued reply based on the contents of the message that you disagree with; 2. ignore it. Blaming MSN or just complaining that 'American citizens' are ridiculed in my view is not an option, but rather displaying lack of adequate arguments. TC
Lack of adequate arguments is the coineys' stock-in-trade. If what was sent as a PUBLIC comment to be published on the Internet is 'ridiculed' here, it is not because it was written by an American citizen, but because in the context of the discussion it is ridiculous. It is ridiculous that in a public discussion of how America can best help the international community protect the cultural heritage almost the only response is from a group of several hundred people (yes, probably mostly American citizens) who stubbornly hold out for the importation of items which they want to buy without documentation of lawful export. These people are however not in the least bit interested in learning what the CCPIA actually says, they obviously for the most part (I'm talking about the naysayers here) have not the foggiest what it actually says, and - as I showed - what it actually regulates. They quite obviously have not the slightest intention of helping preserve the heritage, but have a great (self-) interest in getting their hands on as much of the little bits of it they can for themselves.

The whole bunch of the hardcore naysayers from the ACCG stable deserve far more than pointing out where what they say is ridiculous, it would be useful if the US authorities would keep an eye on these people, what they're buying from where and whom. The results would probably be most illuminating.

As for showing these naysayers "respect" for their views, my general impression is that many of them are not exactly approaching the task of writing to a Presidential Advisory body with any respect either for it, or the facts of the matter in hand. They have not shown the CPAC the respect of checking what the CCPIA actually says, what the Cyprus designated list and MOU actually contain (beyond the fact its got "coins" in it) or what they do. Neither have they shown the respect in identifying the four criteria which are laid down by law (the CCPIA) as being the ONLY ones the CPAC has a mandate to consider and offer an opinion on. Neither have they shown the respect required when offering alternative suggestions (the "British Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme") of having found out what those two separate institutions do and do not do, vis-a-vis the CPIA.

I therefore make no apologies, American citizens or not, for commenting on the rather pathetic and self-serving efforts of US coineys (at the bidding of dealers' lobbyists) to get their hands on a continual flow of coins without documentation of lawful export. That is in a country which became (nominally it seems) a state party of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

UPDATE 22.12.11:

Ha! Peter Tompa reckons there should be a "Christmas truce" of some kind for naysaying coineys ("No Christmas Truce"). He writes:
Evidently, there is an element within the archaeological community that thinks it is entirely appropriate to ridicule American citizens and others who have responded to the US State Department's invitation to comment on the proposed renewal of the Cypriot MOU. See http://paul-barford.blogspot.com/2011/12/these-people-are-americans-so-you.html Shame on them and their efforts to suppress any public opinion against the "archaeology over all" perspective. And shame on the other archaeological blogs that link to them and hence promote their views.
Wait, wait, wait, in what way is disagreeing with something, presenting a different point of view in reply, "SUPPRESSING" any public opinion? Is this not a discussion which should be as widely publicised as possible, or would Mr T. prefer it - for obvious reasons - to be "just between the coineys"?

Well, this is the season of goodwill and all that, so anyone whose "Cyprus MOU renewal" public comment was commented upon here who feels they have something to add is free to post their own comment on my blog under the original post (or here) explaining why I am wrong in what I say - but please read the CCPIA and the MOU (and designated list) carefully first. That goes for any future posts on that topic right through until 3rd January.

Vignette: culture? George Washington as a planter (Made in America)

17 comments:

Museum Security Network said...

"..a rather blunt, continental manner". Blunt? I would rather call it: "no room for misinterpretations". Typically continental? Not the slightest idea, but that seems to be an unfounded generalization (oxymoron?).

Ton Cremers

Paul Barford said...

On MSN Ton looks up the definition of "blunt":
"Blunt? This is what 'Webster' writes about blunt: "Definition of BLUNT [...]
3a : abrupt in speech or manner b : being straight to the point :
direct
— blunt·ly adverb
— blunt·ness noun

Examples of BLUNT
To be perfectly blunt, I find her annoying.
He was blunt about needing more privacy. [...]"
I opt for : "being straight to the point"... Is this typical
continental (meaning European continental)? Dunno (and don't care).


I actually meant that your reply was blunt (to the point) and continental in reaction to the US pretensions.

heritageaction said...

So Mr Tompa regrets that conservationists aren't offering a Christmas truce in the war against archaeological damage. Perhaps he should be aware that there's a metal detecting rally near Harlow, Essex on Christmas Day - so those on his side of the fence aren't letting up. Maybe he should direct his call for a Christmas truce to them.

Or does he maintain there's nothing wrong with it and that everything found there will be reported to PAS? And that US collectors can therefore buy it all with clear consciences? Probably.

Scott said...

I left comments under the original post, but I would like to share something here with regard to the collection of ancient coins, which may have been in worldwide circulation for thousands of years.

To borrow the concept from Pastor Martin Niemöller’s “First they came...”:

First they came for the ancient coins,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a ancient coin collector.

Then they came for all foreign coins,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a foreign coin collector.

Then they came for the obsolete currency,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a obsolete currency collector.

Then they came for the pattern coins,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a pattern coin collector.

Then they came for my silver and gold United State coins,
and there was no one left to speak out for me.


This is not a case of pilfering. It's a case of collecting what has been on the market for many years and preventing government from using arcane laws and regulations in such an abhorrent manner.

- Scott Barman
Author of the Coin Collectors Blog
coinsblog.blogspot.com

Paul Barford said...

See also: http://coinsblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/first-they-came-for-ancient-coins.html

Well, all I can say is "Yuk".

Who are "they"? Why are "you" "their" victims?

You see, they are not "coming for" YOUR coins, the CCPIA refers to coins in transit from unlawful export to a buyer who is trying to buy coins regardless of the definition of lawful export of THEIR OWN COUNTRY (see my comments to your remarks on the original post). Are any of the coins you collect unlawfully exported in accordance with the specific determinations of the CCPIA?

Also could you please note that the CCPIA and attendant MOUs are NOT ABOUT COINS. They are about the principles that apply to the import of a broad range of cultural property from selected countries onto the US market. Oddly enough, we do not see the icon collectors of America kicking up an analogous fuss. Why not? Why, actually, would a collector of anything in the US want to buy ANYTHING which is unlawfully acquired?

What is wrong with a law which (if you actually READ it) regulates only material which the (US written) law defines as unlawfully exported?

And if there is something wrong with it, why is the ACCG campaigning to have the CPAC "follow it (by refusing requests for help)" rather than campaigning to have it rewritten?

[The answer to that will tell you a great deal about the ACCG and what it really represents].

Nobody is "coming for your coins", you are naively falling for the scare tactics of a group of dealers and their lobbyists. Think, think, think.

Scott said...

The problem is that there is no documentation of export for many ancient coins.

Yes, I read the law and the MOU. I also do policy analysis for a living and understand the unintended consequences of laws. The law says that valid documentation of the antiquity is required for its presence outside of the country of origin. In many cases, you cannot show documentation for ancient coins. Empires rose and fell. When they replaced the coinage with their own design or for their own purposes, the designs changed. Then the coins were used on commerce and stretched across the various trade routes.

Under the law and MOU, if I had a Greek coin that could be traced to Cyprus and I did not have documentation, it could be confiscated and returned to Cyprus as an antiquity. I would receive no compensation for the confiscation.

The MOU and the CCPIA does NOT specifically exempt collector coins. The MOU says it is for antiquities in general. If it exempted coins then it should say so. Again, it is the unintended consequences of how laws and documents are written. The ACCG is working to prevent this unintended consequences when it comes to ancient coins. Having spoken with members of the ACCG, they are not interested in anything other than the ancient coin hobby.

As for my poem, the United States has a history of recalls for coins. A silver recall was tried in the 19th century. When the US government tried to satisfy trade issues by issuing a Trade Dollar but demonetizing it for domestic transactions, it caused problems in the export/import markets. There was also the gold recall of 1933 and the threatened recalls in the mid-1960s when silver became expensive and bills were introduced in congress to recall coin silver--thankfully those bills never made it out of committee. The unintended consequence of these MOUs could have the US government confiscating ancient coins that have been in circulation for hundreds or thousands of years being confiscated and sent back to Cyprus (and Italy from another MOY)

Your response to my post show that you are so intransigent to considering another opinion from a different perspective. Forget the ACCG's alleged agenda and the political allegations you espouse. Try to look at the issue strictly from the view of the ancient coin collector and how unintended consequences of the way laws and treaties are written could effect this community.

Paul Barford said...

We are getting off the topic of my post.

”The problem is that there is no documentation of export for many ancient coins […] The law says that valid documentation of the antiquity is required for its presence outside of the country of origin” .”

What on earth are you talking about?

Have a GOOD look at Section 2606 of the CCPIA - Import Restrictions, (a) Documentation of lawful exportation, and tell me where you see such a requirement (clue look at ‘(c) Definition of satisfactory evidence’). Don’t believe what the dealers’ lobbyists tell, you, read it for yourself. Then ask yourself why you are being led to believe something else by groups like the ACCG.

” In many cases, you cannot show documentation for ancient coins. Empires rose and fell. When they replaced the coinage with their own design or for their own purposes, the designs changed. Then the coins were used on commerce and stretched across the various trade routes”.

What has that got to do with what we are talking about (that is CCPIA)? [clue: nothing at all]

The fact we disagree is not due to my “intransigence”, it is that you (still) seem to think the CCPIA says something other than what it says… like the coineys whose comments I was discussing. READ the text, you might be surprised.

”Under the law and MOU, if I had a Greek coin that could be traced to Cyprus and I did not have documentation, it could be confiscated and returned to Cyprus as an antiquity. I would receive no compensation for the confiscation.

That is complete bollocks. SHOW us where your US law (and even more the MOU) explicitly says any such thing. Chapter and verse please.

As I said, this is absolutely NOTHING to do with anyone “coming for your coins” – you are just making this up.

“The unintended consequence of these MOUs could have the US government confiscating ancient coins that have been in circulation for hundreds or thousands of years being confiscated and sent back to Cyprus (and Italy from another MOY)”

Really? Gosh what a frightening world you must live in.

And where, again, in the CCPIA legislation do you see even a HINT of that? Because I do not. Chapter and verse again please. The CCIA says not a single word about collectors, as it is about imports.

“They” are only “coming for your coins” in your imagination and nightmares. The real world is another place.

“Having spoken with members of the ACCG, they are not interested in anything other than the ancient coin hobby”
which is a shame that they cannot see their actions in their wider context, just the narrow focus of their own self-interest.

If you have eyes to see whatis in the CCPIA, you will discover that they have been leading collectors by the nose for a number of years about these things. You might ask why, why they cannot “tell it like it is”, why they cannot be honest and upfront with the collectors they claim to represent. 49 000 ancient coin collectors of America are NOT writing to the CPAC at the bidding of the ACCG. But you go ahead, carry on supporting them. You are doing a brilliant job of showing just what kind of people are among those going along with them. People who really have no idea of their own what the CCPIA actually says and does, and what it does not do. Just a mouse-click away.

Scott said...

I will give you my citations later as it is almost the end of lunch hour here on the East Cost of the US and I have work to do. However, I want to comment on one thing:

"Really? Gosh what a frightening world you must live in."

What a frightening world we all live in. If you think any of this is as simple as you say it is, then please lend me your rose colored glasses. Since I do my work for the US government, I know how things are done. I know how the US government stretches its own rules and regulation and regularly changes those rules to fit its own purposes. My cynicism is reflective of what I have seen of the world around me.

if you think that there will be no unintended consequences to any of this, then your naievete matches the veracity you demonstrate in trying to cast the ancient coin collectors as parraihs to ensure the protection of their hobby.

BTW: In case you have not figured it out, the Ancient COIN COLLECTORS Guild is interested in preserving their hobby. That is the purpose of a special interest group--their own single interest. Just as the museums have their own interest, the ACCG has theirs. To ask them to look beyond their own interest shows that you do not want to understand an opposing view.

But I'm sure you will comment on this before I have a chance to enter my citations. This will demonstrate that rather than trying to understand their view or possibly suggesting a solution beneficial to everyone, you are asking for compromise the way the US Republican Party asks for compromise: my way of the highway!

Paul Barford said...

Well, I am approving it for publication before your citations, because I know that what you are looking for is not there in CCPIA.

I am not "asking" for anyone to compromise, this is a blog about collectors, not for them.

I do not think portable antiquities issues are "simple", but neither do I believe that the CCPIA is really all that complex a piece of legislation that a person of average intelligence cannot understand it. In order to do that, they do have to read it though, don't they?

Why did the dealers who created the ACCG call it a "collectors' Guild" (Guild?)? If it is a collectors' association, why are they misinforming collectors at every step and every opportunity? No, I do not think Sayles, Welsh, Tompa, Puetz, Sear and Wetterstrom and all the ACCG 'contributors' http://www.accg.us/about/contributors.aspx are really interested in protecting the "hobby" for its own sake. EVERY thing they do shows unequivocally that they are interested in protecting the current no-questions-asked mode of trading dugup coins. These are two different things. If they were interested in the 'hobby', they would be providing collectors with accurate information and not alarmist warnings to get a knee-jerk reaction from the uncritical.

Scott said...

[NOTE: Because of size limitations, I am going to have to post this in multiple parts]
[PART 1]
See... I knew you couldn't resist in responding to me before I wrote my complete response. I knew you had to answer me. I will leave my observation on this front until the end. However, since you want to see chapter and verse of what I am talking about, here it is with references:

According to the Federal Register (Vol 76, No. 235, p. 76476, found at http://exchanges.state.gov/media/office-of-policy-and-evaluation/chc/pdfs/cyprusproptoextfrn1212.pdf), the request is an extension of the MOU last revised in 2007. In the Federal Register on July 13, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 134, pp. 38470-38474, found at http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/culprop/cyfact/pdfs/cy2007dlfrn.pdf), the extension was updated to add new materials.

First, under background, it clearly states, "In addition to all the previously protected cultural material, import restrictions are also being imposed on a new subcategory of objects (Coins)." This is where the problems being.

You responded to me, "You are wrong, it is not the foreign states who are selectively targeting the US, but the US selectively picking and choosing whose cultural property they will help protect from smuggling...." How does the US government know what is cultural property and what isn't. Is the US government supposed to be mind readers and try to say that everything is cultural property? Do you want the US government making the recommendations? I live here and I do not. If you look a few paragraphs after the above statement, you will find that the updated MOU, the State Department wrote, "We note that the subcategory Coins of Cypriot Types has been added to the category entitled Metal, pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 2604. This addition comes in response to a request from the Government of the Republic of Cyprus to amend the Designated List. Coins constitute an inseparable part of the archaeological record of the island, and, like other archaeological objects, they are vulnerable to pillage and illicit export." (emphasis mine)

I may not be an expert in antiquities, but as a policy analyst and English speaking American, I think that statement is clear that Cyprus made the request some 27 years AFTER the passage of the CCPIA. My question is why did they take so long to make the request? What motivation did they have in making the request? And why does the MOU request for blanket protection for all coins dating from the end of the 6th century BCE to 235 CE without making distinction for coins that have NOT been "smuggled" (your word) but that had been in circulation and traded outside of of the region since that time? (reference: see Section III, Subsection D. "Coins of Cypriot Types")

According to the MOU (see previous reference), *any* coin from that region during the period specified are subject to confiscation AND return to the Cypriot government under the provisions of the CCPIA. It does not make the distinction of when the coins were discovered or where the coins may have come from. The coins could have been bought from China where they were used as part of trade and not part of an archeological find.

So let's look at the codified law that has the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, specifically the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, enforcing the CCPIA in the United States.

I see from your blog that you are British living in Poland. Let me explain one thing that you may not know: the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) are the agencies interpretation of the law and how they are going to enforce the law. The law is codified as part of the United State Code (U.S.C.) as passed by the US Congress and signed by the President. If there are conflicts, the courts in the US recognize the what is written in the U.S.C. over the C.F.R.

Scott said...

[PART II]
While you are demonizing dealers (and I am not sure what your problem is with dealers--I know many numismatic dealers who are good, upstanding citizens), both 19 C.F.R. 12.104H, 19 U.S.C. § 2610 both require documentation as proof of ownership except under certain circumstances. However, if you read the circumstances that makes exception in 19 U.S.C. § 2610, the ordinary collector cannot meet those requirements. For example, how can a long time collector whose collection dates back many years, even predating the CCPIA, be able to go through that list of exception to get to the "catch all" provision (19 U.S.C. § 2610(2)(D)) to prove the coin "has been within the United States for a period of not less than twenty consecutive years and the claimant establishes that it purchased the material or article for value without knowledge or reason to believe that it was imported in violation of law."

Reading of both 19 U.S.C. § 2610 and 19 C.F.R. 12.104H, it is clear that the it is easier for the museum or library whose job it is to document their collections to defend themselves but the collector is left to his or her own devices. But you will try to tell me that this is not how the law is written or how it is supposed to be. But you don't live in the US and you do not understand what I tried to explain to you before as the unintended consequence of laws and regulations.

Oh wait... now you are going to tell me that these are import restrictions and have nothing to do with coins already here. But 19 U.S.C § 2607 refers to property already in the United States and subject to seizure under the law. Again, it is a straight forward reading of the LAW! Of course if you want to refer to 19 C.F.R. 12.104E, it makes no distinction as to who owns the alleged stolen property. In fact, 12.104E refers to 19 C.F.R. 162, which describes due process for seizures for anything from anyone. You may call this a stretch because you are not directly involved with U.S. laws. Many in the US legal community will call it an unintended consequence of codifying due process.

Based on the aforementioned laws and regulations, it is reasonable to assert that if a private citizen creates an exhibit of ancient coins and displays them at a major coin show, the coins can be inspected by anyone and declared antiquities. Representatives of the Cypriot (or any) government could petition the State Department, have them execute an emergency warrant--which they can do under the Patriot Act and then go to the courts three days later to validate it--to confiscate the coins pending return to the State Party. If the exhibitor has documentation (and how many collectors really save their documentation?), then the collector has a chance to retain the collection but only after a long legal battle that the government will win because of attrition--the government has more money than the collector to defend itself.

Now you will ask what does the Patriot Act have to do with this? Technically, nothing. However, the situation can be twisted into a claim that national security is at stake which will allow the State Department to violate our Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures and execute a non-court ordered search warrant to seize these alleged pieces of cultural property. You think this cannot be done? Not only it has been done (see http://bit.ly/8tKF9q from the ACLU) but a U.S. District Judge has already ruled against it! (see this article from MSNBC http://bit.ly/8tKF9q)

Did I mention that before completing my degree in public policy that I went to law school? Circumstances beyond my control (my first wife dying) kept me from completing law school so I completed a degree in public policy instead.

Scott said...

[PART III]
After reading the CCPIA, the provisions are so broad that the interpretation in US law would give any attorney a field day in creating reasonable doubt in a case where the US government seizes someone's property. But the documentation required of the collector is so onerous that now I understand why in all my years of attending coin shows why I have yet to see an exhibit of fine ancient collectibles. I bet many are afraid to bring them out from behind locked door because of this law.

I do not know what you have against dealers. I get the feeling that you think ancient coin dealers are like the archeological robbers depicted in the Indiana Jones movies. With all due respect (http://bit.ly/8tKF9q), numismatic dealers are not going overseas to steal coins, break into museums, or rob people of their cultural heritage. I am not saying that all numismatic dealers are angels, but the people you cast doubt on are not only looking to save their livelihood, which is their right, but also providing a service to the collecting public. When writing about the ACCG, you say "EVERY thing [sic] they do shows unequivocally that they are interested in protecting the current no-questions-asked mode of trading dugup [sic] coins." You are making an accusation without qualification. When were the coins "dug up?" Do you know? In fact, most dealers may not know! How can they know who may have owned the coin last year or that it might have been bought and sold sometime in the 19th century? If you followed anything about numismatics, the provenance of collectibles can be a hot topic because tracing them back can only be determined using circumstantial evidence that tends to change with the finding of new evidence.

But I go back to your assertion that dealers are out stealing coins that were "dugup" (your word). Under the law (19 U.S.C. § 2611(D)), it only applies to coins "dugup" and imported into the United States within the last 20 years with some proof of exhibit. How does the dealer prove the coin he is selling was not "dugup" within the last 20 years? What if the coin was dug up in the 19th century or earlier? How do you propose anyone prove the provenance of that coin? Have you ever done this type of research? Do you know what records do not exist, specifically dating prior to the very early 20th century?

"[T]his is a blog about collectors, not for them." Based on what I read in other posts, it is not about collectors or collections but about your idea of how to protect what you consider cultural property from being enjoyed in the manner which you determine as being right or fair. I apologize if you cannot take the criticism from collectors who disagree with your vision. So go ahead, call me a dirty capitalist pig American. Just remember, 12 of the 13 colonies were settled by British trading companies (Maryland was not, but that doesn't mean the Calvert family wasn't interested in reaping the benefits of trade) and the British Army was used to drive the Dutch out of New York so the British could use it as a trading port. Capitalism has been in our DNA since our founding and I make no apology for wanting to see it continue.

Paul Barford said...

Phew, what a lot of words. [If had not replied to the earlier point about the ACCG it would have had to be appended here too].
Let us recap, the questions I asked were:
Who are “they”?
Why have they decided that you will be their victims ?
And (twice) Where it says in the CCPIA that they can “come for” YOUR coins? We seem to have accumulated a lot of words and numbers, but have you proven the CCPIA says what you said it does?

Let us also note that this post was about Tompa's comment that US citizens should in some way be held immune to comments on what they say in submitting public comments to the CPAC in the terms of the CCPIA.

Starting at the end,
a) Agreed, the CCPIA needs rewriting. As I have written, as a piece of legislation it is crap. Most heritage protection legislation is. I do not contest that, like any law written by man, it may have unintended consequences. What I am contesting is the way it is being presented to collectors by ACCG dealers in order to goad them into some kind of reaction. Scare tactics and invoking paranoia are indeed effective political tools, but it seems to me that collectors are being cynically manipulated, and are acquiescent in the process.

b) We will have to agree to differ about dugup antiquity dealers. I note though that you did not contest the point that despite the name, the ACCG is run by dealers to protect the interests of dealers.

c) “You are making an accusation without qualification. When were the coins "dug up?" Do you know? In fact, most dealers may not know! How can they know who may have owned the coin last year or that it might have been bought and sold sometime in the 19th century?
Well, THAT is precisely the point, isn’t it (see the rest of my blog). Basically if the dealer does not ascertain that the stuff was not looted last year, then an ETHICAL dealer would not have bought it to sell on. You failed to see the point about the qualifier “no-questions-asked”. You mean you are happy buying stuff from dealers who have no idea where the goods they sell come from or that they are legitimate or what controls they have passed?

Scott said...

I see what you are doing. You are purposely obfuscating the discussion because you do not want to face the fact that someone who has actually done the research. The fact of the matter is that you ask a question, I answer it, and you feign not to know what I am answering. You said to "Have a GOOD look at Section 2606 of the CCPIA" and how it relates to what I am talking about. So I tried to tie it all in on one tome, albeit a long one. So let's break it down and make it easy for you:

Who are "they?" The United States law enforcement community.

Why have they decided that you will be their victims ? I did not say that I will be a victim. I said very clearly that given the history of how the US government has treated their own citizens in regard to precious metals issues in the past, having this as a precedence can lead to other actions.

Where it says in the CCPIA that they can “come for” YOUR coins? It's called allegory. It's called using the CCPIA as a precedence to begin to justify seizures. If it starts with ancient coins, given the history of the US government's actions, where does it stop?

but have you proven the CCPIA says what you said it does? Yes, I have proven that the US government can seize ancient coins even after they have crossed the border. (19 U.S.C § 2607)

About Tompa's comment: I am not sure I agree with him, but I admit that these comments probably should be associated with your original post. For that, I apologize.

From your points:
a) I am not a member of the ACCG nor am I an ancient coin collector. I did not respond to this request for assistance blindly. I looked at the law, the MOU and determined that based on US history and the history of how the US federal government has treated collectibles for whatever reason, if they start justifying the return of collectibles for what I see as fabricated reasons, then where will it stop? I know the extension of the discussion is not a reason that is directly affected by the CCPIA. It is anticipating the sequence of events once the precedence has been set.

b) I did not contest that dealers are involved with the ACCG. That does not bother me because I know that dealers started and have significant influence over other numismatic organizations which I am a member. Maybe you have a problems with dealers, I do not.

c) A man walks into the shop of an ancient coin dealer with an old cigar box containing ancient coins. He tells the dealer that he found the box while cleaning out his late father's attic. The dealer looks at the coins. With no other documentation, does the dealer trust that the story is true or did this guy just dig these coins up on a recent trip whatever country is in question? What is the ethical dealer to do? Are you saying because the seller cannot verify the provenance of the coins the dealer is supposed to turn the man away? This is a common story I hear with all coin types, not just ancients.

You also did not define the term "ETHICAL dealer." Who decides on ethics? My ethics say that if the man walks into my shop to sell the coin with the story about them being from a relative that passed on, I'm buying the coins. My ethics say that if there is no evidence of the coins being "dug up" last week or in the last few years that I am buying the coins. Ethics is in the eye of the beholder and I do not see what's wrong with what the ACCG is asking for. After all, they cannot start selling illegal goods--there are criminal laws with criminal penalties to prevent that. Those that get caught have more to worry about than having their inventory confiscated.

Scott said...

I have to add to my last note that there are other considerations to the sale and purchase of any item. Dealers are required by law to verify that they are not buying stolen items. There are resources that dealers can use to determine if the item is stolen or have other restrictions. This is not a blind transaction. There is some due diligence that all dealers, regardless of what they trade, are supposed to follow. Law enforcement at all levels do publish "hot sheets" of stolen items. The State Department does issue notices about items banned on the import/export market. And the dealer is supposed to determine whether the coins are genuine or not in order to represent them as genuine in a follow up sale.

I think that this is where you are getting hung up on the words. The ACCG is assuming that they are talking with US citizens who understand that there are consumer protection laws without the CCPIA and the State Department getting in its way. They are also assuming that the dealers are also subject to the ethics rules of the organizations for which they belong (e.g., American Numismatic Association, Professional Numismatic Guild, etc.). You, not being a US citizen, may be looking at it as if they are taking a laissez-faire attitude to the issue without understanding the rest of the background. Maybe you need to understand what the ACCG is saying from the point of view of US-based businesses governed by the laws of several jurisdictions only to have yet another rule foist upon them with no reasonable way to determine whether the man who brought in the cigar box of coins is telling the truth about his father's coins or is trying to sell recently dug up coins.

Paul Barford said...

Ah I see, so what we are dealing with is paranoid analogy. What the Gubn’mint “done it before” with was as you say precious metals, but there is only you and the ACCG standing in the way of a future government doing it again with Cypriot icons and Greek vases and yes, bulk-buy zapped Bulgarian Late Roman Ae coins.

but have you proven the CCPIA says what you said it does? Yes, I have proven that the US government can seize ancient coins even after they have crossed the border. (19 U.S.C § 2607)
They can do that in this particular case without any MOUs - the National Stolen Property Act. Let’s not forget the interesting little thing discussed recently by Stephen Urice about that Act which ACCG lobbyists are carefully not bringing to collectors attention… I think this is pretty revealing about this so-called “collectors’ guild” . You see, their focus is not on fighting 19 U.S.C § 2607 or anything else to do with “ownership” (of stolen property or not) but merely the import by US dealers of fresh material from other countries without documentation of lawful export. That's what bothers the people that run the ACCG.

Analogies? ”c) A man walks into the shop of an ancient coin dealer with a sack with several kilograms of dirtied-up ivory offcuts. He tells the dealer that he found the sack while cleaning out his late father's attic. The dealer looks at the ivory offcuts. With no other documentation, does the dealer trust that the story is true or are these from freshly poached ivory obtained on a recent trip to whatever country is in question? What is the ethical dealer to do? Are you saying because the seller cannot verify the provenance of the ivory the dealer is supposed to turn the man away?”
You can answer that yourself.

Is it SO difficult for an American collector of anything to define what is ethical and what is not? You say you’d buy the [ivory] on the seller’s say-so. I say that this would be neither responsible or ethical. Is that just me?

What you say is the very epitome of the no-questions-asked approach.

“Ethics is in the eye of the beholder” you say. If one takes as a starting point “what I want to do”, then yes, it is, obviously. Which is why we need to raise awareness and discuss these issues frankly, widely and openly.

This is not about “consumer protection”. The antiquity dealers’ codes of ethics are obviously largely for show and not worth the paper they are printed on when it comes to the question we (I) am discussing; they are all discussed on this blog (and elsewhere) and found to be weasel-worded in (or ignore) the area of concern here. Which is why we need to raise awareness and discuss these issues frankly, widely and openly.


” You, not being a US citizen, may be looking at it as if they are taking a laissez-faire attitude to the issue without understanding the rest of the background. ” Ah, I see. So we are back where we began, nobody outside can criticise the Americans. Hmmm.

No, from watching them very carefully over the years, my impression is that the ACCG themselves are taking a very cynical attitude to the whole series of international issues concerning the preservation of the cultural heritage of other countries, and furthermore without any real understanding of the background.

It seems to me that they find support mainly among the uninformed, or among paranoid malcontents and conspiracy theorists distrustful of their own government.

Scott said...

Do you ignore the thread of a conversation on purpose or are you that inflexible that you have a difficult time seeing the forest from the trees?

Let's start with: "Ah I see, so what we are dealing with is paranoid analogy." I had said before that I work for the government. I have a background that I have not and will not talk about that gives me a healthy skepticism of what the US government is capable of doing. If that is not sufficient for you, then I hope you asked Santa for some sense and the ability to carry on a coherent conversation.

As for your analogy, I did not use "ivory offcuts." However, owning ivory that was produced before the ban is legal! If the ivory off cut can be validated as being produced prior to to the CITES treaty, I have no problem with it.

First, I said "You, not being a US citizen, may be looking at it as if they are taking a laissez-faire attitude to the issue without understanding the rest of the background. Then you responded, "Ah, I see. So we are back where we began, nobody outside can criticise [sic] the Americans. Hmmm." NO, that is NOT what I am saying. I am suggesting you educate yourself as to what it looks like from what we are working with in the US to understand why our views differ. This is commonly called diplomacy, which is what you have to practice if you want people to accept any part of your view. Trust me, it works better than throwing word-bombs being tossed across the pond!

"... my impression is that the ACCG themselves are taking a very cynical attitude to the whole series of international issues concerning the preservation of the cultural heritage of other countries, and furthermore without any real understanding of the background. What you are doing is indicting the ACCG for doing its job. They are solely concerned with ancient coins and not any of the other issues. Rather than trying to club them over the head, why not explain that what they do may have unintended consequences. Maybe you could suggest a way they can craft their message to prevent those unintended consequences while they try to protect their hobby and livelihoods.

One thing that you did not realize is at some point you turned the law of unintended consequences back on me to where I am reconsidering how I write my response to the State Department. But you are so stuck on proving yourself right that the concept of working together for everyone's benefit does not seem to be part of your repertoire.

"It seems to me that they find support mainly among the uninformed, or among paranoid malcontents and conspiracy theorists distrustful of their own government." Wow! Talk about trying to win friends and influence enemies! Keep calling people names while keeping your myopic views and you will never be able to convince anyone that your views are worth considering.

Of course you are going to have the last word because this is going to be my last response in this forum. I will be posting my own thoughts on my blog coinsblog.blogspot.com by Monday.

 
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