Friday, 27 June 2014

Avoiding the Fair Deal: Recorded by PAS, a "Laughable Solution"



I suggested that collectors, in order to obtain coins that were legitimately on the market, might cultivate connections with English suppliers and through fair deal transactions obtain coins that were (a) legally dug, (b) properly reported and recorded, and (c) exported with a UK export licence. Why not? That's one of the reasons the PAS exists, to liaise between the worlds of archaeology and artefact collecting. US coin dealer Rasiel Suarez (of the Dirty Old Coins bulk buy dealership) supplies some shocking statistics. Leaving aside tens of thousands of coins from disclaimed hoards under the Treasure act, the PAS record contains information on 189,346 such licitly (legally) obtained Roman coins (and 307,382 coins as a whole) entering personal collections since it began 17 years ago. How many have surfaced on the market as such? Mr Suarez has checked:
An absolutely laughable solution. Of over 1.3 million auctions tracked between 2007 to the present a sum total of just 113 have the string “PAS recorded” in their descriptions. Of those less than half are actually ancient and not a single one comes with a copy of related documentation of the sort Paul envisions. In fact, I could not even locate via Google image search what a EU or UK export licence for a coin looks like.
1,300,000 coin sales since 2007? In seven and a half years?  That is 173000 a year. What this means is that in any year since 2007 at least, half as many coins pass through the online auctions as PAS has recorded in seventeen years public funded work. That rather places PAS successes in some sort of focus. So what has happened to all the other Roman coins not auctioned off as the collector loses interest or dies? Just 113 of these coins have re-surfaced? Where are the rest, in a skip? Lost paperwork on the incredibly lax ask-no-questions-don't-get-told-lies ancient coin market?

In fact, another person connected with the dugup coin trade agrees - he says that the entire haul of dugup coins from the province of Britannia "can’t satisfy the market because they are too few relatively and are mostly late Roman coins". Not enough coins in the ground to satisfy today's market? He adds:
There is one dealer in the US who does specialize in such coins [...] I’ve never actually personally seen a UK export certificate, but they do exist and evidently should be procured for such coins found in the UK. The coins this dealer sells do come with paperwork describing the hoard, the circumstances of discovery and PAS hoard references. I’m also aware that he procures UK export certificates for such coins. Another larger dealer, CNG, also passes along references when they resell such coins, but I don’t believe they typically handle them in the first instance.
No, CNG does not, they seem to prefer other suppliers. Sadly it again has to be pointed out that our American informant needs to find out the difference between PAS and the Treasure Act, hoards reported as Treasure and disclaimed will not have a PAS number (though I agree they should). So, in fact in the USA there are only TWO dealers who offer material properly documented for them free of charge by the PAS. All the rest ignore this obvious licit source of dug ancient coins, and prefer to source other coins elsewhere. Is that because buying them through legitimate UK sources, a dealer would be forced to allow the finder to obtain a fair deal, a near-to-market price for the coins, something which - one might surmise - they do not always have to do if they get them from other non-fair deal sources? Are they exploiting other finders to keep their profits up, and if so, why is this not colonialism?

2 comments:

James Chapman said...

I'd be interested if you could give us a reference to these "UK export licenses".
Just what are they required for?
Who is the dealer you refer to - maybe he can explain it to us?

Mr X.

James Chapman said...

CNG are currently offering a number of coins from the Gussage All Saints Hoard.
They give the PAS references, but export certificates are not mentioned.
It should be noted though that at least one of these coins has passed through other hands.

Mr X.

 
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