Washington's most infamous antiquitist lobboblogger expressed concern about a firm that was buying up Chinese antiques in America and shipping them off to the newly-expanding Chinese market, thus shifting the focus of trade in these things to the Far East. In that context, I asked (on May 28, 2012 2:25 PM):
Would "Cultural Property Observer" (defending the rights of US collectors) not consider that it would be a good thing if the USA had an export licensing system so that material which is leaving the States for countries which offer a better price for such collectables is in some way regulated? Otherwise at this rate the US market will be pretty quickly depleted of such items. Why does the US not protect its own collectors by an export licensing system?Cultural Property Observer (May 29, 2012 6:16 AM) observed:
The last thing we need is more bureaucracy. In any event, why should foreign buyers be discriminated against because of the foolish actions of the US State Department?Paul Barford May 29, 2012 7:47 AM said...
I was talking about ensuring not too much cultural property leaves the US market. This would surely protect the interests of US citizens from foreign competition, would it not?Cultural Property Observer thought a while and then (May 29, 2012 10:30 AM) declared:
It would, but supporting it would also make me some sort of retentavist (sic) or cultural nationalist, and I'm not.So having some kind of restrictions on the export of rare examples of Chinese porcelain, snuff bottles, rhino horn cups or scroll paintings, is an example of US cultural [property?] nationalism? In Tompa's mind clearly retention of cultural property is in some way always evil whatever country attempts it. If all dealers over there think the same, one more reason to kick the Americans out of the 1970 UNESCO Convention.
From the perspective of what happened in post-War eastern Europe (when due to the economic situation, vast numbers of antiques ended up in the west before 1989) such perspectives seem rather short sighted. But then of course the difference is between Europe which has a rich cultural property heritage going back millennia which people want to collect and participate in, and the USA which has very little to speak of of its own (but willingly helps itself to other people's).