Thursday, 23 July 2009

The Sages of Collecting

In the past few weeks there have been a number of nit-picking posts on Moneta-L taking issue with what coin collectors have seen discussed on blogs like this one – mostly without giving links back to the items discussed. Another has just appeared there (John Hooker, “What is heritage?”) which though it's all about Celtic coins seems to be a reply (of sorts) to my post here a penny and an old shoe, though of course avoids addressing the issue raised. At this, one list member broke ranks and wrote:
I'm a lurker but this has been really irritating me and others I bet too. Is this a group about collecting? Or is it a place for hissing about how evil archaeologists are and how superior we and our little pet projects are in comparison? The people targeted aren't posting here so can't we please take it
elsewhere? Rob.
The writer was soon put in his place by painter Bill Donovan
[…] Speaking for myself, I like the discussions on this list lately, because they pertain to the philosophy of collecting. I like to read what the sages of our hobby have to say.
Try as I might I cannot actually find anything particularly philosophical in the flood of anti-conservation witterings from the "sages of the hobby" on Moneta-L. There seem mainly to be accusations that to try to protect the archaeological record against looting is "nationalist" and to have a "heritage" must be a bad thing, though in fact almost all nations try very hard to do the first and most try even harder to have one of the second. There however is not very much sagacity in the positions held by the no-questions-asked collectors and dealers of portable antiquities, just a lot of dubious self-justifications and when they are challenged, instead of a philosophical reply, what we most often see is tactics to avoid the issue, including name-calling and personal attacks.

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