Thursday, 17 September 2015

Coiney Annoys Scots

A reader has sent me this:
Dear Mr Barford,

Can you please highlight this: Note he equates theft with poor security and indeed he labels it poor stewardship. The intended implication seems to be that in Scotland at least, treasures are better off outside museums. Who but those who pay him would subscribe to that ludicrous proposition? Please tell him and them, whose primary interest in cultural objects is financial, to keep their avaricious snouts out of Scotland's affairs. Thanks
Jamie Sutherland,
I think it quite astounding that from the disappearance of three coins from a case, the US "observer" infers there is "poor security" in the museums of an entire country. Let us recall that US museums and institutional collections have not been immune to coin thefts in the past. The problem is a market where objects without documented licit origins are accepted no-questions-asked. So, for example,  none of the Lord Stewartby collection stolen in 2009 were ever located and returned by responsible coin dealers or collectors (see here).

UPDATE 17th September 2015
I wrote to the national Museums of Scotland, to David Forsyth, Principal Curator, Medieval-Early Modern Collections, who gave an incredibly evasive answer to my question about why photos of the stolen coins were not released to the public. That was a surprise. (The reply seems not to have been CCd to Peter Tompa).  Indeed, as has been remarked on more than one numismatic forum, one can only speculate about what "medieval" (sic) coins were involved, as no denominations are quoted in any of the press reports. No details, no photos, just the dates (sixteenth and seventeenth century - hardly 'medieval').  Dr Forsyth is a public employee entrusted with public property, not a private collector. He is therefore answerable to public enquiries about the degree of care (stewardship) that public property is afforded.  My curiosity is piqued.  Does the museum actually even know what coins are missing? Perhaps Mr Sutherland's faith and trust in the museum is sadly misplaced and sniping Peter Tompa is in this case right?

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