This afternoon I was asked by somebody calling themselves "Ethical Collectors" sic to stop tarring all collectors with the same brush (which in fact, I do not think I do) and take a look at the petition he/she/they had started addressed to "UNESCO, UK government, US government, government of Federal Republic of Germany and others" and called "Support Responsible Antiquity Collecting". The blurb is interesting:
We, the undersigned, call on UNESCO and Governments to institute legal and other measures to clean up the international antiquities market, to eliminate the risk for collectors of buying anonymous artefacts resulting from criminal activity (looting, theft, smuggling, fraud) and to prevent collectors' money being put to nefarious purposes (financing organized crime, terrorism, militant activity etc).I am unsure how to treat this, there are absolutely no signatures on this petition, and I am unsure where else it is being promoted. The creators (the email originated in a server in the southwest of England) seem to want to create the impression that there is a groundswell of responsible collectors out there who are opposed to the philistine tactics of their fellows. The effort falls a bit flat though when they cannot get a single collector to sign up to it and given the numbers that are signing up in droves to aa rival petition to prevent due diligence being mandated in the German market and thus support the criminals. That rather puts the notion of "responsible collecting" into perspective.
I am unclear whether the petition is open to signing by archaeologists and heritage professionals (such as the staff of the PAS) who "support responsible collecting", or whether the creators intended it to be signed only by ethical collectors (and are dealers eligible?). Anyway, one to watch, let us see what happens.
Are there any ethical collectors out there anywhere in the English (or even German) speaking world that would like to declare themselves in favour of artefacts accompanied by documentation of proper due diligence? Or are they afraid to put their head up over the parapet?