Thursday, 16 July 2009

Guild refuses to Question Money-making trend

I mentioned earlier on this blog the discussion of the “slabbing” of ancient coins over on Moneta-L which seems to reflect a trend away from the use of ancient coins as a resource to be studied closely for the information about the past such study may impart, to becoming a commodity for investment like modern US coins are. As part of this discussion, a collector had the temerity to suggest that the “Guild” which claims to represent the interests of the collector of ancient coins should adopt a standpoint with regard this trend in the development of the hobby towards the use of ancient coins merely as a way of generating capital. Just now, the Executive Director of the ACCG, coin dealer Wayne Sayles disabused ancient coin collecting "Monetans" of the idea that the dealers’ lobby group has any intention of listening to them and opposing any such thing.

The first reason he gives is that the person proposing the idea is “not an active member of ACCG”. He complains that there are currently over 2400 ancient coin enthusiasts participating in the Moneta-L list. He says that “All should be members of the ACCG, but most seem content to call on others to do the work. Having said that, now we can all look forward to reading in some nauseating Blog that collectors don't support the ACCG”. That's a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy Mr Sayles. How could any blogger fail to point out a simple fact? It is a false assumption that all collectors and students of ancient coins “must” see eye-to-eye with the dealers’ lobby. That’s like saying all gay men in the US should be members of NAMBLA. The ACCG has embarked on a program of confrontation and provocative law-breaking to make a point. A point perhaps that not all ethical coin collectors will agree with (ie that US dealers have a “right” to ignore all export and import controls for the goods they trade in, even though in many countries for very good reasons there are restrictions on their movement). When the same executive director answers the expression of their concerns of the ACCG-sceptics with abuse, then it is not likely to attract too many converts. ACCG claims “5000 affiliated members” which is not much in a milieu estimated as numbering 50 000. Mr Sayles may regard this as “noxious”, it is nevertheless something that cannot be dismissed. I think Mr Sayles and his dealer pals will need to work a bit harder for the support they desire, not assume it is due to them by rights, like they regard taking their pick of some source country's archaeological artefacts.

Anyway, ACCG is not going to oppose slabs because the no-questions-asked “free market trade” of ancient coins “is facing a prolonged and concerted attack”:

Within the United States, it has come in the form of legislation, emergency administrative action, State Department imposed import restrictions, overreaching Federal prosecution of the National Stolen Property Act and a malicious PR campaign from the archaeological community lobby that casts [no-questions-asked PMB] collectors as looters and thieves of the past. All of this is done in the name of protectionism and stewardship, when everyone on this list knows that the private collector is the most dedicated protector, scholar and steward conceivable. ACCG fights this mindset daily and with every tool at its disposal—which are woefully few in comparison to the powerful opposition.
Heart-breaking isn’t it? How absolutely rotten it must be to be so misunderstood! All these people want to do is the “protect, study and be stewards of” archaeological information and we keep reminding people they cannot claim to be doing that if in the process a major part of the archaeological information is being destroyed by the manner in which they currently do so.

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