Friday 7 November 2008

PAS: "Outrageous Example of Duplicity and Mendacity"?

Calgary coin dealer Robert Kokotailo adduces evidence that the figures for the cost of entering artefacts on the PAS database being discussed in the UK on the eve of the deliberations on the funding and future of the PAS were "incomplete and thus miss-leading". The figures however were published on the PAS website (as an answer to comments - including from myself - about the high costs of precisely this aspect of the Scheme) by the member of PAS staff most closely involved with the day-to-day running of the PAS database. I am therefore amazed that the Canadian should dismiss this information so easily. Mr Kokotailo ignores what the PAS webpage says and calculates the cost of PAS mitigation by crudely dividing the total sum of money the Scheme receives by the number of items recorded in the database . By these means he determines that the true cost to the 62 million non-collecting members of the British public of ensuring that at least something is saved from the erosive hobby of a few thousand is "$42.64 US" ( Ł27.35 ) per item. Now if we add that up for the several hundred or several thousand archaeological items in the personal artefact collections of something like ten thousand "metal detectorists" alone, current policies on artefact hunting and collecting are costing its citizens a lot of money (apart from the high costs of Treasure awards). But the PAS itself insists the costs are much lower.

Californian coin dealer and ACCG officer Dave Welsh excitedly calls the use of these figures in discussions of the cost of the PAS "an outrageous example of duplicity and mendacity".

Disturbingly Kokotailo and Welsh (and the ACCG) are among those who promote the adoption of a scheme like the PAS by all the countries which are the "sources" of the coins they and many other north American antiquity dealers sell by the bucketload. On their Unidroit-L forum, they present it as the "only" solution to the looting problem that they would contemplate co-operating with - but only if "the archaeologists" (of the world) set it up for them (see discussions there in November 2007 when they saw no problem with the figures of the costings). How much money for heritage protection do these dealers and collectors think the global community should be using for subsidising their hobby and businesses? And why?

Vignette: Calgary is also famous for its Stampede.

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