Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Loot Laundry

Royal numismatists,
handling the stolen stuff
Over on the lootbusters page Dorothy King has a post 'Ionia: coins from the Hecatomnus Hoard'
This hoard of mainly Carian territory coins of Hecatomnus were found at Soke in Turkey in 1977, and smuggled out by February 1978 (the smuggler subsequently confessed). Turkey would like them back.[...] many of the issues concerned were extremely rare before the discovery of the hoard and when such coins appear, without provenance, in sale catalogues from 1978 and immediate following years, it seems likely that they came from the hoard 
So we see the value of dealers throwing away any documentation which would show when anything they have came on the market. Dr King showcases a number of these coins and it is interesting to see who is handling two of them.
Roma Numismatics Ltd (reconstructed collecting history - notes origin in smuggled hoard)
Nomos, skimpy collecting history, noted as from smuggled hoard.
Coin dealers are very slow on the uptake it seems (there's something in the corrosion which rots the brain maybe?), what do they think is the purpose of presenting a collecting history if not to differentiate material which came on the market licitly from that which did not? Duh. What then should happen to the material turning up which can be shown to have come from illicit activity? Put on sale with that fact proudly displayed as here? So what that they've passed through other collections? Illicit is illicit, no matter how the market tries to launder them.

For more by Dorothy on this hoard, see here:  Coins and The Looting of Hecatomnus' Tomb
The Hecatomnus hoard was apparently found in 1977 at Söke (between Miletus and Ephesus), and published as having been burried 390-385 BC - though frankly I don't know how curators could publish a looted hoard, let alone be so certain about it (Ashton, Richard H.J., Philip Kinns, Koray Konuk, and Andrew R. Meadows. 2002a. The Hecatomnus Hoard Coin Hoards* 5.17, 8.96, 9.387).) . The volume of coin hoards photos are lavishly illustrated, but only the text with good descriptions is available online, including auctions and dealers who were advertising the coins to this date (subsequent sales are very easy to find illustrated online): http://numismatics.academia.edu/AndrewMeadows/Papers/234306/The_Hecatomnus_Hoard_CH_5._17_8._96_9._387_
* "Special Publications of the Royal Numismatic Society:

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