Sunday 31 May 2009


The fuss continues over the comments made on the sale by two coin dealers in the US of some ancient artefacts taken from archaeological sites in England (Nathan Elkins, here and here, this blog here etc.). As I have pointed out on this blog, all the comment US coin collectors can muster refers to the fact that Nathan Elkins illustrated his post with two photographs showing the reader the material under discussion without the need to leave his blog in the process. Two days ago however he replaced these photos with links to the dealers' sales offers which showed these items. This has not ended the comments. Sadly all that US coin collectors can STILL muster... are more comments about Nathan showing the what the coins looked like. Cameron Day of Cerberus coins writes on Moneta-L that he assumes Nathan Elkins believes:

that all UK found roman coins are misappropriated and therefor thinks that his action in "stealing" at least two other peoples images is justifiable. I expect to see a formal apology by Elkins and his supporters on this list and the other lists where they have offended the members. A PhD candidate knows that
he/she cannot use another persons images or text without first seeking written permission or paying for the previledge (sic) via his University and then this does not unilaterally cover other intellectual property rights. Elkins, it's time to apologise.
Oh dear. Somebody showed a photo of some freshly dug up coins on a blog about protecting archaeological evidence and discussed the significance of this phenomenon. It now turns out that some of these coins at least had been exported from the UK without an export licence. Neither of the dealers was able to say where the coins had come from, which raises the question of whether there were nighthawked items in this bulk lot. Of course not a single US collector has commented on that (and somebody has bought some of these coins from one of the dealers despite their origins being so unclear and controversial).

Far from it being the case that Mr Elkins "and his supporters" (of which I am one) who owe some coin collectors an apology, there is no doubt in my mind that it is the no-questions- asked sellers of illegally exported items of unknown origins from England that owe the British people an apology here.

Since the coin dealers are persisting in keeping this matter alive, it seems to me that the time has come to urge them to repatriate to Britain any of these coins that were illegally exported (they can go to the FLOs as handling material - and let the FLOs explain to the public why they came back to the UK from the US, there is an important lesson there). Any illegally exported coins from these lots that have already been sold should obviously immediately be recalled from the purchaser in order to do so.

By the way, with reference to what Mr Day said, Nathan Elkins made his position quite clear what he regarded as the problem with these coins, it is my surmise that in actual fact his "assumption" indicates that Mr Day has not even read Nathan's blog post before commenting on it. Nothing new in that.

Mr Day's Cerberus coins website is an interesting venue also, no obvious Balkan material, but "We have just added Uncleaned Ancient Roman coins from Syria and Turkey ( 20 May 2009)We have just added another 1000 Holyland found ancient uncleaned coins. We also added some premium uncleaned Byzantine coins and some holyland found uncleaned Islamic coins!" There's stuff from Spain and "somewhere in the classical world where dirty coins can be found". Well, what a lot of coins from far off lands some of which the ACCG would say have "retentive" antiquities policies.... But Mr Day reckons it is Nathan Elkins who needs to apologise to coin collectors for showing two photos [which Mr Day classifies as "stolen" - his inverted commas] of what another dealer was offering quite openly for sale. So presumably those masses of uncleaned coins which Mr Day is selling came from the coin elves and none of them came from any archaeological sites in Spain, Turkey, Syria and "the Holy Land" (where's that? Holy to whom? Would that be Israel Mr Day, or would that be coins looted in neighbouring areas and sold by Israeli dealers?).

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