Wednesday, 18 March 2015

What Heritage Robbers Want: Coins of Italian Types

Pro-smuggling coineys over in the US are trying to muddy the waters about what is covered by the current US legislation (CCPIA) to combat antiquity smuggling. US import controls only covers material of the six specific types designated by the amended lists of material subject to control. These groups of material were carefully chosen to include manageable numbers of types with relatively limited circulation which in antiquity only rarely strayed further afield. Roman imperial coins struck after 37 AD are not included as the cultural property of Italy for the purposes of import regulations in the USA. A moment's thought (not that pro-smuggling coineys seem to think much) will show what administrative problems including them on any designated list would produce compared to the current situation which deals with local issues. This is the designated list of Coins of Italian Types:
1. Lumps of bronze (Aes Rude)— Irregular lumps of bronze used as an early medium of exchange in Italy from the 9th century B.C.
2. Bronze bars (Ramo Secco and Aes Signatum )—Cast bronze bars (whole or cut) used as a media of exchange in central Italy and Etruria from the 5th century B.C.
3. Cast coins ( Aes Grave )—Cast bronze coins of Rome, Etruscan, and Italian cities from the 4th century B.C.
4. Struck coins —Struck coins of the Roman Republic and Etruscan cities produced in gold, silver, and bronze from the 3rd century B.C. to c. 211 B.C., including the ‘‘ Romano-Campanian ’’ coinage.
5. Struck colonial coinage —Struck bronze coins of Roman republican and early imperial colonies and municipia in Italy, Sicily, and Sardinia from the 3rd century B.C. to c. A.D. 37.
6. Coins of the Greek cities —Coins of the Greek cities in the southern Italian peninsula and in Sicily (Magna Graecia), cast or struck in gold, silver, and bronze, from the late 6th century B.C. to c. 200 B.C.
Potential buyers in all countries should ensure that such items may legally be imported into their country under Art 3 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention concerning Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property with regard yo export licensing procedure. In the USA they have the additional possibilities offered by Art 307 of the CCPIA (19 U.S. Code § 2606) - just a sworn statement that the items has been out of the source country more than ten years is (by law 'sufficient evidence') enough to get the items through their customs.

Obviously no responsible collector or dealer is going to want to buy objects freshly removed from a country whose heritage is being pillaged by criminal gangs where there is no documentation of licit export. Only a small group of US coineys is holding out for the "right" to do this and demanding more than the current get-out '§ 2606  sworn statement' gambit. They should be roundly condemned by all collectors who actually care about the licitness of the material coming onto the US market and offered to the US buying public. I like to think there are some, despite the precious little hard evidence, beyond glib declarations, of that. We should all be doing our best to ensure that the days of the domination of the rapacious US collectors' market by Robber Barons in are definitively over.

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