Sunday, 13 July 2014

York Conference Update: Question of Policy

At the "Connecting Through Coinage" conference: "a US dealer for whom provenance tends to be too unimportant to mention on his website)". Mention is of Ron Bude whose V-coins page is here. There's not a lot to be seen there, but a number of British hammered items and some ancient coins which are said to be from Yorkshire, which is no provenance.

One is a "VF Commodus with original find patina/toning. Yorkshire find." From the photo, I'd not be so sure about that patina, but what is clear is that there is no such "Yorkshire find" in the PAS database. I could not be bothered to check through the 300+ stycas that a search for a possible match to his other Yorkshire find: Irregular styca. Pretty light green patina.Yorkshire find. I'm going to (a) guess it too is not there - there is no mentioon of a PAS number in the listing and (b) remark that the PAS database is not at all user friendly for such searches. Online auction sites allow the tiny thumbnails to be zoomed without opening one page after another, it would take an hour or so to find out that this coin is/is not in the PAS database having the scant and generic information Mr Bude offers as the only search terms - which whatever the answer is, is a waste of time. So these items have been dugup under the UK's dotty legislation and hauled off to the USA where they are being flogged off without as much as a by-your-leave (export licence?).

The Julia Domna denarius is for some reason described as a "recent find with natural surfaces" - without any further details. While an unnatural surface would be worth mentioning in a sales description (indicating the coin had been tampered with), I have no idea what this seller means here. I also think Mr Bude has been 'had' by those who supplied him with antiquities from where-ever-they're-from.

Now, why is a dealer offering unprovenanced artefacts  with no indication upfront of either licit origins or licit export, invited to speak at a professional conference in Great Britain alongside archaeologists and museums people?

"We must educate people [about looting]" urges a US activist. Who would disagree? Who at that conference would disagree? So when Mr Bude returned from the warm York handshakes and the smiles of the "we can all be friends" school of British archaeology, was his first action to slap on to all those coins the missing collecting histories from his due diligence business notes, and withdraw from his V-coins shopfront any coins for which he had no such details? No? So how many conference invitations from limp British archaeologists nicely smiling and chatting amiably would it take to achieve that? Perhaps we've done enough ineffectual smiling and back-slapping, time maybe for some discussion on how to achieve more effective action. Would a more effective solution be to refuse to invite such dealers - no matter how "good" they are numismatists - to such conferences, and if they are invited, for the rest of the card-carrying archaeological speakers demonstratively to boycott that session? Perhaps that is what is needed to persuade these folk of the absolute need to clean up their act by demonstrating disapproval and lack of acceptance? Are British archaeologists capable of standing up for any principles they may have?

[14.07.14: See Update see second update replying to more misrepresentations (coineys being in general very lax at finding out what the discussion is about).

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