Thursday 22 April 2010

Nearly Two Thousand Antiquity Collectors gave Italy the Finger...

Let the record show that by means of some panic-mongering hyperbole and manipulation by a small coterie of US dealers in ancient coins (several transparent cases of which I have highlighted in this blog over the past two weeks or so), some 1,933 people were persuaded to express by means of the V-coins-hosted "fax wizard" their heartfelt opposition to extending a helping hand to Italy to control the illicit exports of archaeological material. Thus 1933 antiquity collectors have clearly shown the world what they want the "rights" and "freedoms" to buy. Fortunately there are some 5000 affiliate members of the ACCG (and an estimated 50 000 ancient coin collectors in the US), so the number of illicit-coin-demanding philistines is not a majority in either milieu as a whole, but the number is nevertheless a disturbing one for anyone concerned about what is happening to Europe's threatened archaeological record.

The whole business was unintentionally summed up by one highly-unclued-up contributor to the forum thread (number 93) who wrote "An MOU would only create more antagonism between private individuals and archaeologists/museums as well as private individuals and various regimes, both home and abroad. I'd rather see co-operation". Well, it is the other way around. Actually a Memorandum of Understanding drawn up by the State Department with another nation is precisely aimed at establishing such co-operation. The oafish collector has obviously not actually read the MOU and supporting material before shooting off a fax to the CPAC to oppose it. I think we would all like to see co-operation of collectors in taking care not to be indiscriminately buying illegally obtained coins along with those demonstrably legitimately on the market. Opposing one means of establishing the legitimate origins of a group of coins added to the US collectors' "pool" (which is what the MOU would achieve) is thus a wholly retrograde step.

More interesting is that the online comments of those that had sent such comments to the CPAC indicate that in fact many, if not most, had got completely the wrong end of the stick and were writing to express their objections to something that is not in fact on the cards. They believed (because that is what the ACCG told them) that Italy was claiming all ancient Roman coins and artefacts wherever found as "their cultural property". This, coupled with the atavistic notions at the basis of the opposition, is hardly likely to impress the CPAC with the great intellectual benefits that would accrue by allowing these people to continue to buy unchecked any coins they may wish that have been illegally exported by Italy.

Anyway, we will see whether the CPAC agrees that ancient coins are ancient artefacts which are looted, smuggled and collected or whether they believe that they are not archaeological material, and not under any threat from the fax-sending indiscriminate antiquity collectors of the United States of America.
Vignette: In this photo by Andres Monory, Ms Amy Gullabel, ACE Latin Teacher at the Gengis Khan High School for Girls, Madison, WI shows how many faxes she sent last night to show how she felt about Italy wanting help with curbing illegal exports of archaeological material.


Unknown said...

I post the following here, because if I post it there, I'd get lynched.

This whole business is a shenanigan of the first order. The way in which it was conducted was a disaster. There was the opportunity here to serve BOTH our purposes. Thanks to the ACCG, that opportunity has now been squandered. I only hope that the reputation of the collecting community as a whole has not been tarnished by this, after all only 2000 from 50,000 US based collectors is hardly representative.

Paul Barford said...

Well, it is a shame isn't it that the milieu is such that the voice of reason is afraid that it'll get "lynched". This is what lets the oiks and oafs take over.

All that money the ACCG raised from collectors could have been used much more responsibly than to fight the US government in a battle they are GOING to lose, and then all collectors will be the losers.

The history of the ACCG is a history of opportunities to do the right thing squandered, and a reputation well and truly tarnished, because people saw the 2000 who spoke out against fighting trade in illegally exported material, while the other thousands said nothing.

I really do not understand why "48000" scaredy cat COLLECTORS cannot face up to the small clique of DEALERS that run the ACCG and say 'stop this you oafs'.

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