It has been widely reported over the past few days that on the American Numismatic Association website appeared an appeal to coin collectors to oppose US moves to renew an agreement with Cyprus to maintain vigilance on US borders to restrict imports of ancient dugup coins to those that had been lawfully exported. It reads:
“We are deeply concerned that ever-expanding import restrictions have gravely damaged the ability of American citizens to learn about ancient cultures through handling common ancient coinage of the sort that is avidly collected worldwide,” ANA President Tom Hallenbeck said. “Such regulations, to the extent they exist at all, should be narrowly tailored to restrict goods that could only be the product of looting from archaeological sites. Coins cannot meet this test. By their nature, ancient coins have circulated far from their place of origin, have been extensively collected throughout the world in modern centuries, and like common mass-produced items, ancient coins do not normally have any verifiable provenance.”Ancient coins fall from trees where they were put there by the coin elves?
Where does Tom Hallebeck (Hallenbeck Coin Gallery, Inc., Colorado Springs CO) think ancient coins come from? Where does the ANA president think the thousands of coins metal detected out of ancient and medieval sites go to? To the coin fairies? Or could he not actually consider the possibility that those coins that come out of the ground are in fact (if one does not believe in elves and fairies) the ones that freshly "surface" from underground on the market?
Maybe also the ANA President should read with understanding the text of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on Preventing Looting of Archaeological Sites and the Discrimination Against Collectors. He might be surprised by what it actually says and what it ACTUALLY attempts to create conditions to regulate. He might then actually understand what the legislation he comments upon actually regulates and why. On the other hand, he still may very well not do.
UPDATE: The text seems now to have disappeared from the ANA website, if it was ever there in the first place (none of the various coiney blogs reporting it give an actual direct link to this utterance)
UPDATE: The President of the American Natural Medicinal Practitioners Association Hugo Glennebeck was also quoted yesterday as saying about rhino horn import controls:
“Such regulations, to the extent they exist at all, should be narrowly tailored to restrict goods that could only be the product of poaching in the wild and protected national parks. Rhino horn cannot meet this test. Rhinos do not occur in the wild, and their horns have been extensively collected throughout the world in modern centuries, and do not normally have any verifiable provenance.”At this urging, three hundred people are believed to have petitioned the State department urging them not to enforce CITES and related legislation, which they argued infringed their "rights" to have personal contact with the natural heritage by restricting their ability to purchase smuggled animal parts.
So does the ANA support the buying and selling of smuggled artefacts? What is its position on unlawfully exported dugup artefacts?
Vignette: an artist's impression of the coin fairy postulated by coin dealers and collectors to explain the otherwise inexplicable disappearance of looted artefacts in the "it was not me" model (by IceMaiden71)