Friday, 27 June 2014

Coin Dealers Playing the Victim Again

Poor dealer Suarez, he is at a loss. There's these nasty people saying he should be offering his clients kosher goods, and he cannot see how that is possible. He asks David Knell "and others who espouse your views" to:
simply point the clueless in the direction of a viable source of ancient coins where one may purchase free of guilt. Maybe you’re aware of some organization that sells post-dig finds that have been properly recorded? Any museums having a sale on overstock coins that have been appropriately catalogued? Name at least one source where one may buy “fair trade” ancient coins and I’ll be happy to retract my statement.
This is of course another of those completely pointless time-wasting pseudo-arguments typical of any discussion with these dealers in erdfrische dugups. I've been through this before with Dealer Dave (on his nasty little Unidroit-L forum), almost a decade ago now on an equally pointless discussion where he was ducking and diving to avoid admitting that there is an alternative to non-transparent no-questions-asked trading of "whatever comes".* There really is no point in discussing things with these people when you are just going round and round in the same circles, saying the same thing to respond to arguments already refuted in the last 'what I said this time. Note the 'fair trade' argument which I think is important when discussing the trade in licit versus illict antiquities. As was pointed out long ago by Brodie, the latter is doubly-exploitive: 
round'. Anyway, for what it's worth, I'll put up here
Rasiel, When it comes to Roman coins such as you have for sale on your 'Dirty Old Coins' and on Tantalus, Britain has, as many US collectors and dealers point out, pretty favourable legislation about finding and keeping such items, and there are many thousand metal detectorists out there doing just that. There are now hundreds of thousands of coins out there that have been legitimately found, properly reported under the legislation (through the Treasure Act for hoard finds and Portable Antiquities Scheme)  and available for purchase and export (with the required UK export licence). There are in the UK many dealers and middlemen who buy this stuff from finders and offer it for sale. It is a perfectly legal, open and above-board business (whatever personal opinions I or anyone else may have about that). The coins come with ready-made documentation - all you have to do is put it in an envelope and keep it to pass on. The detectorists have forums where you can make contact with finders. The Roman coinage supply to Britain was very rich, many mints and reverse types to choose from, coins of every emperor right through until the end of the Western Empire, there is also Celtic and some Byzantine, many of these coins are in as good or better condition than the ones pictured on your websites.

But somehow neither you, nor any other US dealer I can see [please correct me if I am wrong] have on offer any quantities of such legitimately-obtained coins. Why is that? Is it because you have suppliers which exploit finders and therefore can provide 'fresh-from-the-ground' document-free coins cheaper so you can make a big profit while offering them as "astonishingly affordable"? Is it because poor folk that you are, you cannot find an "organization" (see above) to funnel them right into your hands? (And what kind of an "organization" would that be?). Try networking with British finders, Peter Tompa does.

UK finders (when they sell disclaimed or unclaimed items to middlemen), get from them the market value - or near to it (this was discussed on a metal-detecting blog near you just last week). So any coins you resell from such a source are indeed in every sense of the word 'fair trade', the finder is not being ripped off and exploited as in the case of the illicit diggers that supply artefacts to "buck-a-coin" cowboys. What kind of neo-colonialist deal are source-country finders getting there?  

Please don't try to play the "clueless" victim with us (why do collectors and dealers always try to play the victim of some conspiracy against them? Are they seeking sympathy?) I think every dealer and collector in the English-speaking world knows about the Portable Antiquities Scheme, British metal detecting and Treasure Act, they quote them incessantly at every opportunity. Anyone in the trade who has not heard about them is clearly not in the loop. There IS a source where you could, if you wanted, access guilt-free, fair trade, ancient coins of precisely the calibre of the ones you have for sale on your websites this very moment.
[Omitted here the reference to the fact that Mr Suarez and Peter Tompa by raising more straw man arguments were again - right after David Knell's comments on the tactic - trying to deflect discussion away from the topic of the original blog post, which is simply bad manners, and a highly unfruitful manner for the coin dealers to demonstrate their alleged "willingness" to enter into discussion about issues of concern]

Collectors can help eliminate the dodgy market by taking on board that cowboy antiquity dealers with their "favourable" pricing are yet another expression of colonialist exploitation. Their profit margin relying on networking with dodgy middleman suppliers who obviously give finders much less than true market value for what they bring. Indeed, if we are to accept the open and transparent buying and selling of dugup antiquities, this colonial exploitation of foreign workers by dealers and their middlemen suppliers should be something  UK metal detectorists with a social conscience (if there are such things) could be campaigning about, fair deals for them surely means they should want to see everybody in a similar situation (including the brown-skinned ones) getting a fair deal. Why not?

Vignette: "make it happen" choose fair trade. Don't support colonialist exploitation in the antiquity trade.

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