Monday 8 June 2009

ACCG Five-year Error of Omission Rectified

There has recently been quite a bit of discussion of the bulk lots of unrecorded "British dugup" coins on sale - apparently without export licences - in the US, which seem to be touchstone of coin collectors' and dealers' attitudes. On SAFECorner Nathan Elkins notes that the ACCG has finally got around to something it should have done a while back. It has posted on its website a text called "UK Authorities post helpful advice for export of coins (sic)" referring to a facility that was made part of the PAS website in 2006. Nathan remarks:

I do hope this reflects a growing sensitivity within the trade community and that the ACCG leadership will, in the future, be more proactive in addressing the looting problem directly rather than simply lobbying against and challenging protective legislation. Knowledge will only be preserved if all stakeholders, including dealers and collectors, start to value it over purely commercial and self-interests. The preservation of information is something we should all be concerned about and something which we all ought to
work towards, especially for those of us who study the past or buy and sell pieces of it.
Indeed dealers and collectors in the US claim to do both, in the buying and selling they claim they are engaged in the "study of the past".

Now that the ACCG has clarified for its members the legal situation concerning artefacts dug up in the UK, perhaps we can expect soon similar features on the laws of regions like the Near East and Balkans concerning the finding and export of ancient items, including numismatic collectables. This is after all, according to the online extract from the ACCG 'responsibilities of key personnel, task forces and committees' manual, the task of its international affairs committee. This will enable collectors (whom the Guild ostensibly serves) to judge whether ancient coins on offer at any given time by ACCG affiliated and other dealers have been obtained according to the relevant laws or outside them.


Anonymous said...

Well knock me down with an artefact of dubious origin!

Last year Mr David Welsh made some memorable appearances on the British archaeological list, Britarch, when I directed his attention to that very advice from PAS and suggested that he and his fellows should follow it - but his reaction was to refuse and to say it was naive etc etc. I'm sure someone can dig out some quotes.

So is this a genuine change of policy? If so, a follow-up posting on Britarch would be appropriate.

But is it? British metal detectorists are notorious for tricky words and there have been many recent instances of US dealers sounding awfully like Darren the dirty digger from Dundee who totally talks the talk but still dirtily digs the dig. In particular,
the ACCG now suggests buyers may find online advice [from PAS] about export LAWS "useful" and it "encourages" (not requires) members of the collecting community and trade to respect the cultural property laws of Britain. But of course, PAS advice is not "Law" and extends beyond export regulations. One wonders whether the ACCG is now encouraging/requiring it's members to heed the other bit of advice PAS give (in bold capitals!) in that document:

.... or are they just wishing to give the vague impression they are?

Perhaps they should amend their text to make it crystal clear exactly what they mean? A bit of precise drafting to ensure absolute clarity regarding what they are saying about PAS's advice isn't beyond them surely?

Paul Barford said...

I'm sure someone can dig out some quotes.
That sounds like a very un-subtle hint Mr Action. ...

Anonymous said...

You can call me Heritage, so long as you don't add Brownshirt.

Paul Barford said...

No, "Heritage" sounds like a girl's name.

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