Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Californian coin dealing: the British Connection

Earlier here I posted some perfectly reasonable queries that arose when reading what pro-collecting activist Dave Welsh was saying about his own business practices which he was holding up as an exemplar of ethical trading. He seems however not to have appreciated his firm, ‘Classical Coins’ of Goleta California being examined in this way. In a post entitled “Barford Attacks Unidroit-L Listowner's Ethics” he complains
I should add that the tone of Mr. Barford's blog post is gratuitously insulting, and that not only in my opinion, but also in that of an attorney experienced in cultural property law, his remarks are skating on the very edge of defamation.

Anyone who has followed these discussions will be aware that Mr Welsh and his fellow ACCG officers are no strangers to the use of insulting language referring to conservationists in the archaeological milieu. There is of course nothing “gratuitously insulting” in pointing out contradictory statements in information Mr Welsh disseminates about his own firm in presenting it as an exemplar how other similar businesses should be operating. In response to his answer and its somewhat aggressive tone therefore, I would like to expand on why I am still puzzled by what Mr Welsh asserts, and invite him to avail himself of the ability to post a comment here to clarify the situation. There are three main matters involved and for clarity I want to treat them in three separate and successive posts.

The first issue concerns three conflicting statements about purchase of artefacts in Britain. Mr Welsh has at many times expressed the opinion that Britain has the wisest and most fair antiquities legislation in the world. It is therefore perfectly valid to ask what experience Mr Welsh actually has with this system. In his reply to the questions I raised here, he now asserts:

The only items I have acquired that are known to have originated in Britain are antiquarian books and antique furniture, which if more than 100 years old are subject to export control under the provisions of UNESCO 1970. These however did not fall under
that classification
I suspect that Mr Welsh is becoming confused; the 1970 UNESCO Convention has NOTHING to do with this. What is important is UK and EU export licencing requirements.

Let us have a look at the wider context of the first quote I cited the other day. It was (as the reader can check for themselves) part of an ongoing discussion about export licences for antiquities in general:

"The question is, whether once British subjects or concerns get
title to an ancient coin
, are they then free to sell it to me without having to get an export license? I believe that they are.
I have never received an export license with any of the items shipped to me from the UK. Can you help to clarify this, seeing that there is apparently some confusion?" [my emphasis]
The context indicates that the word “items” here clearly does not refer to “antiquarian books and antique furniture”. In the second quote I cited here, the topic of discussion was “doing the right thing” (and the context in the thread was a discussion of following the advice of the Portable Antiquities Scheme about the purchase of artefacts. In answering an earlier point Welsh wrote:

Conducting my business is also "doing the right thing." I'm an
ethical dealer, and have never acquired an antiquity from the UK that was not provenanced.

Again, “antiquity” and not “antiquarian books and antique furniture” and they are all provenanced (how do you provenance second hand books and old chairs?). But then a day later he said:

I have never acquired an artifact in Britain, and do not ever expect to do so.

There is nothing “gratuitously insulting” in pointing out that these three statements as written are in total conflict with each other. It does not seem unduly churlish to ask the reason why this should be when Mr Welsh has been setting his own business practice out as an exemplar.

On his own Unidroit-L site Mr Welsh comments “I believe I have every right to defend myself and the collectors I serve on archaeology lists.” Perhaps the collectors Mr Welsh “serves” and archaeologists will note that instead of an explanation of the first three mutually exclusive, only a fourth was proffered which conflicts with them even more.

I ask again, Do any of the coins Classical Coins has had in stock come from provenanced British finds or not?. (Mr Welsh is perfectly welcome to post a comment here explaining these discrepancies if he can manage to stay on topic and not use abusive and insulting language).

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.