A coin is described by an ethically-challenged Californian ACCG coin dealer as "a nice example with an attractive patina, offered at a very reasonable price". I captioned it "Artefact decontextualised by no-questions-asked commerce". Dealer Dave provides his twisted exegesis:
What this means, in plain English, is that the archaeological [situational] context in which this coin was long ago unearthed by someone who presumably did not care about archaeology, has not been preserved. This coin, like nearly all other ancient coins, is "unprovenanced." It seems highly questionable whether it is appropriate to attribute the "decontextualization" of this coin and nearly all other ancient coins offered for sale to "commerce." The reader should recognize that Mr. Barford uses "loaded language." "Commerce" is a pejorative term as used here.Hmm. Note first the insertion of the wholly unjustified "long ago unearthed". Ockham's razor tells us they did not have metal detectors (the easiest way to find such items) "long ago".
Note above all that Dealer Dave attempts by omission to deflect attention from the first to the second part of the compound noun "no-questions-asked commerce". It is the first part of the label which is reprehensible. And yes, it obviously is the buying and selling of items like this without the question being asked, "where did this come from, how do I know it is legal?" which is responsible for the fact that this information is NOT passed from seller to buyer during such commerce. It is at that "no-questions-asked" stage that any information on the context of discovery of an artefact entering this commerce is irretrievably lost.
Obviously, responsible dealers should not be acquiring items that have passed through this shadowy and unaccountable part of the trade, but only be supplied through that sort which takes care to demonstrate its licit nature by taking care of the documentation which is the only means of proving the legal and licit origins of the material that passes through it. Obviously, those less capable dealers who are unable to find such material should not be remaining in the market by lowering their standards and cutting corners. Responsible collectors would do well to totally avoid dealers that purchase even part of their stock on the shadowy "grey market".
Vignette: Some dealers more transparent than others