Thursday, 1 October 2015

Conflict and not only Conflict Coins

As Ed Snible ('Conflict Coins') has noted the paper of Ute Wartenberg Kagen last week at a panel at the Metropolitan Museum in New York has now been published as a pdf by the American Numismatic Society as Collecting Coins and the Conflict in Syria. It contains three case studies, which show that (a) certain types of coins from Syria have been appearing on the market in greater numbers since the Middle Eastern conflict started (interestingly, based on data compiled by Roger Bland), (b) a general increase in illicit exports from the region of a type of coins which circulated mainly in Syria showing the market was established in the last decade or so, before the current problems  and (c) the diversity of mints that could be represented by coin hoards deposited and then dug up in Syria (ie. protecting Syrian material from looting and smuggling is not a matter of the ACCG's notorious 'first found' fallacy). It's a useful contribution to the discussion.

Snible sugests that coin collectors can be absolved from accusations of buying from looters because:
Personally I suspect many of the antiquities come from the private collections of four million Syrian refugees, used as bribes to escape Syria, rather than a few ISIS looters.
So, these antiquities coming onto the market are, or are not, smuggled Mr Snible?

Ed Snible at least is one of those collectors who admits that it is very likely "change is coming to the ancient coin market". He tries to predict what sort of change collectors can expect. He briefly discusses 'blanket bans' (which is all people "with nothing to do" see) and the importance of sales records and notes that the latter will most likely become increasingly important in the future. His text is worth a read and discussion.

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