Tuesday, 7 July 2009

ANS Executive Director on the war between coin collectors and conservationists

In an editorial from the Spring 2007 American Numismatic Society newsletter, Ute Wartenberg Kagan the Executive Director of the ANS spoke out against the belicose rhetoric employed by the ACCG and its supporters (here the emphasis is mine):

an e-mail from a member has prompted me to speak up. This message ended by asking me to “get SERIOUS before American numismatists experience their own ‘holocaust’ at the hands of these ivory tower fascists.” This message had been preceded by an e-mail in which the phrase “Pearl Harbor of the Cultural Property War” was used. Although I understand that this is an important issue, the increasingly belligerent tone of the debate makes me wonder whether a better response and attitude may exist.
Pointing out that the ANS "has long been a place where academics, collectors, dealers, and curators have shared their interest in coinage and other items", she expresses the hope that the ANS will serve as a place where the issues concerning looting, the market and illegal imports could be discussed and debated. She expresses the conviction that "there is common ground between archaeologists who care about their sites and collectors who care about their coins". I guess for this reason the ANS seems not to be involved in the ACCH illegal coin import stunt.

Indeed, the ANS takes a dim view of the illicit trade. The collection policy of one of the largest collections in the Americas (800 000 objects) thus states that:
The ANS supports the spirit and intent of the UNESCO convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illegal Import, Export, and Transfer of Cultural Property of November 14, 1970. The Society will not purchase or exhibit numismatic objects or other items that the Society reasonably suspects to have been unlawfully removed from archeological sites, stolen from public or private collections, removed from their country of origin in contravention of that country's laws declaring them state property or otherwise imported in contravention of the laws of the United States.
Good for them. But then if they get a gift of somebody's collection, in the present Petrarchian mode of undocumented collection, there are unlikely t be records which show which coins come from Petrarch's old collection and which ones came from a Punxatawney dealer in ancient coins who bought them in a German auction from a seller supplied by a bloke with a brother in Bulgaria and a van.

I wonder how many of the 2260 members supported the ACCG protest against the Cyprus MOU?

1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

It is notable that in the message in his blog where he declares numismatic "war" on the conservationistshttp://ancientcoincollecting.blogspot.com/2007/07/yes-its-war.html, coin dealer Wayne Sayles proudly identifies himself as the person mentioned by the Executive Director of the American Numismatic Society (founded 1859). As if readers of this blog needed to be told that.

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