Thursday 12 February 2009

The Saga of the Uncleaned Coin

A few years ago Susan Headley wrote a text "The Saga of the Uncleaned Coin" which tells ancient coin collectors and afficionados of Balkan 'partifacts' precisely where the things they collect come from and how they get to the USA. Her point is actually to offset the claims of US sellers that what they are selling is "unsorted" and what rarities the buyer "might" find. It illustrates two things very clearly the first is how the hand picked artefacts at the "high end" of this lowdown dirty trade relate to the other offerings of US dealers and wholesale indiscriminate illegal metal detecting of archaeological sites in the source country. She also coyly hints at the nature of the groups involved in the trade which US collectors are financing by their indiscriminate purchases. The second thing it illustrates (since I know this is a well-known text) is that since its first publication, US collectors have had ample opportunity to find out where the objects on internet auction sites and in dealers' 'job lots' actually come from. Do they care? Obviously not. Not a bit.

Susan Headley is the founder of Uncleaned Ancient Coins Discussion Group and Ancient Bulk Marketplace, so I guess she knows something about where they come from. Of course she could not resist romanticising that her "reparatio" had been deposited in a hoard, though it is clear from her text that she envisages that having been deposited on a site where there are other archaeological settlement finds.

The text disappeared I think from the internet for a time, so it is good to see that the link posted in Nov 2005 still works.

1 comment:

Nathan Elkins said...


Thanks for pointing out this text. I understand the goal of it is different, but it corroborates many of the things I have been saying based on research and observation and the things published in the CSD report. I am sure that this collector knows what she is talking about since I know she is rather well informed about the trade in "crusties" and the people who sell them.

Some in the dealer lobby deny such sources provide for the market and feign to decry the activities of such people. It is clear, however, that such wholesalers do supply much of the market in fresh coins (both high quality and low quality).´ It is also interesting that some of these suppliers/wholesalers, who quietly sell the higher quality material to mid-range dealers and auction houses, and then dispose of the rest in bulk, also sell on VCoins and are due-paying members of the dealer lobby.


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