|Hans Memling, Portrait|
of a man with a coin
of the Emperor Nero
Coins of the ancient world have been collected widely since the 15th century and by nobility and educated society as far back as antiquity itself. The coins offered here are guaranteed to be authentic and are sold with a guarantee of clear title.Now, HOW can you guarantee that the buyer of dugup artefacts has "clear title"? Well, one obvious way is by providing them with documentation that they were excavated legally (for example in accordance with the laws of Great Britain) and exported legally from the source country. Is that what the "Get Stuffed Antiquarian" is providing here? It does not say so. So how else can you guarantee that if someone buys one of these coins there is not a polaroid photo in the archive of a dodgy dealer somewhere (Italy, Lebanon, Dubai, Syria, Israel?) that will emerge some day to haunt the buyer? Or of a 1933 Jewish coin collection that was seized by the Nazis with one of these coins clearly visible right in the middle? In truth, without the documentation, there is no way that Mr Sayles can actually guarantee clear title of undocumented coins and he certainly cannot guarantee that these coins are kosher-clean.
So what's he got in his stockroom?
The question however will not go away. The existence of a no-questions-asked market does not mean that we should not be questioning very closely what chain of events these individual coins are associated with. Mr Sayles' support of the no-questions-asked market (and his "get stuffed"), and the collectors he claims to represent, can only be seen as sinister and counter- progressive.