Thursday, 10 September 2009


It just goes on, like the cackling in a chicken coop when a fox walks past outside....

From a brief discussion on fakes on eBay on a Reuter’s blog we now have the coin dealers throwing out some wild accusations. Coin dealer Alfredo De La Fe ( Imperial Coins & Artifacts, Inc. New York 10032 USA) seems however not really to have understood the points made, which is odd as they are not rocket science. Referring to one of my posts he says “I wont waste my time listing all of his points”, but it would have been helpful if he’d at least read them properly and try to understand them before attacking them. It would save us all a lot of time.
He at least recognises that I was using analogies in what I wrote. I use the analogies of issues which as De La Fe points out “any halfway decent individual would obviously be against” to question Fincham's view that we all should compromise over no-questions-asked-collecting (de La Fe of course typically forgot the “no-questions-asked” bit which distinguishes the ethical trade from the non-ethical trade in antiquities).

Mr De La Fe too uses the analogy of drunk driving. “Logic dictates that you punish the offender and educate the public to avoid drinking and driving. But based on Barfordian logic, all cars should be banned”. Well, here one can only question either this guy’s sincerity or ability to understand what I wrote. The analogy was used by me as one where social disapproval is the mechanism by which (at least in the United Kingdom) this problem is approached. The laws do not stop people getting into their cars after a heavy night’s drinking at the pub, but their responsible pals often do and order them a taxi. (The problem might be though that Mr De La Fe works on the banks of the Hudson River, maybe people behave differently there, that would explain a lot.)

In the picture De La Fe paints, we have once again the tiresome, and it really is getting awfully tiresome arguing with the straw men of this bunch, idea that what is being advocated on this blog is a ban on collecting. Anyone who can read plain English will see that what is argued for is greater transparency and accountability in the antiquities market, an end to the acceptance of no-questions-asked buying of goods of undocumented provenance. I really do not follow how we get from that to the “Communists”. Weird.*

Coin dealer De La Fe (remember the name, "Imperial Coins") explicitly writes:

"as for source countries in Eastern Europe, there would not be such a problem if the laws were reasonable, so quite frankly, I am not as concerned about some those laws being broken".
Ooops. Remember that name coin-buying guys, "Imperial coins". I really see nothing “unreasonable” about the laws protecting the archaeological heritage of eastern Europe from being dug up with bulldozers, put into big sacks and shipped off to the USA for dealers like Mr De La Fe to make a quick buck on. There is in fact nothing "unreasonable" here except the attitudes of couldn't-care-less dealers like Mr De La Fe and his ACCG pals trying to "preserve their freedom" to do precisely this.
Either the market in antiquities is a legitimate one, with lots of stuff from old collections (collected ages ago by ploughmen and shepherds since the days of Petrarch and nicely curated by generations of responsible collectors), OR it’s a market that is to a great degree fed by freshly dug-up stuff like that taken in huge quantities from the site trashed at Archar and elsewhere in the Balkans or in the Near East which is the reality of that lack of concern of ACCG dealers like Mr De La Fe for the laws to stop this kind of thing happening. As for the antiquities market, I doubt whether public opinion can be relied on to regard it as both licit and illicit for ever, like the egg collecting and tiger skins I mentioned in the post De La Fe misinterprets.

Like the arguments employed by Mr Fincham in the post below, De La Fe uses the excuse for his own lack of concern for these laws being broken by those that supply antiquities to the no-questions-asked market that: “these laws are contributing to the destruction of the information that we can learn if they adopted more reasonable laws”. That's nonsense (and the PAS has a lot to answer for here). No, what is without doubt destroying information are the dealers who acquire no-questions-asked sackloads of coins coming from dubious and often unknown suppliers in foreign countries, and dealers who buy no-questions-asked from them the pickings of those sackloads to put on their websites, to be bought no-questions-asked by a collector. Its not the laws at fault but the way this commerce is run. How many of the coins being sold by Imperial Coins can the person offering them for sale document did NOT come from such a source?

Why should "they" (all the world except the USA) adopt different laws compromising their archaeological record to make up for the shortcomings of a small minority of utterly selfish and irresponsible consumers? This is the question we started with, the one Derek Fincham should answer.

*I really think that observations of ths milieu suggest very strongly that there is something that comes with freshly dug up ancient coins (maybe some kind of soil fungus?) that befuddles the brain of those that keep them in their homes. The symptoms of the malaise it produces is that the victim cannot read plain English or think straight. Here's another research project for the PAS to get somebody to do.

1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

The chickens cackle on.

Now Mr De La Fe is saying [] that my logic is flawed. He then illogically proceeds to apply the Cuban model of Communism to Eastern Europe. Coincidentally here in Eastern Europe today we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of Poland's first wholly non-Commnist government. Twenty years. Cuba is not Bulgaria and Roman coins dug with bulldozers from Roman archaeological sites are not Cuban chicken eggs with which he seems to want to compare them.

There is a difference I think in the black market buying of foodstuffs in God-forsaken Cuba and the black market in looted antiquities in Germany, or the US.
A fundamental difference in fact.

Remember the name coin-buying guys, "Imperial Coins", purveyor of fine coins and Cuban chicken egg myths.

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