Tuesday 25 May 2010

Coin-Scholars, You Can Even Wear Your Data!

California "professional numismatist" Dave Welsh says that archaeologists do not "understand" coins and that the so-called "numismatic context" needs to be protected AGAINST them. Welsh also claims in his lobbying activity that restricting coin sales to those that are of demonstrable licit provenance would "destroy" a discipline that has been developing snce Petrarch collected coins all those years ago, the science of numismatics. One research scholar from his circle protested that he does not need to know where the data he uses in his research come from. Now somebody has drawn my attention to a subsidary of Mr Welsh's "professional" activity which suggests you can wear them too.

A Susan Welsh of "Santa Barbara, California" has a firm called "Classical creations" which makes bead jewellery, necklaces earrings etc. Interestingly it has the same phone number as Dave Welsh's coin shop in Goleta, 11 km from Santa Barbara. Its
website describes Welsh's "Classical Coins" as its "parent company". ("Classical Collections is a division of Classical Coins"). The pendants frequently have Middle Eastern or Far Eastern connotations, which is interesting given the general preponderance of ancient coins from the same region in Welsh's coin shop stock and no explanation of how they got there.

Collections include:

▪ Caravans – Exotic jewelry with Middle Eastern themes.

• The Goddess – featuring amulets and talismans that celebrate the feminine.

•Jurassic – beautiful pieces created from the fossilized remains of ancient and mysterious creatures.

• King Solomon’s Mines – precious gems at a reasonable price.

▪ Kowloon Kollection – jewelry with a Far Eastern look.

• Lost in Time – jewelry featuring ancient coins from our parent company, Classical Coins.

• Maharani – Indian themed jewelry with an exotic flair.

• Nas Bod (sanskrit for "from Tibet") – exotic Tibetan themed jewelry.

• The Sacred – a collection of religious icons gathered from around the world.

The range incorportating wearable ancient coins is disturbing. These seem to be genuine dugups. In answer to the FAQ question "How do I know that any of the ancient coins used in your jewelry are real?" Ms Welsh replies:
All of our coins have been verified by our parent company, classicalcoins.com, one of the largest and most respected ancient coin companies on the internet. We certify their authenticity. You may rest assure that these are not fakes.
Can the buyer expect to receive a copy of a valid export licence for any of them, or any proof of provenance which shows for what reason they do not require them?

So the Welshs have on show today:

Denarius of Lucius Septimius Severus in Watermelon Crystal

Denarius of Lucius Septimius Severus in Blackstone

Drachma of Orodes I of Parthia on a necklace of 10mm pumpkin carved blue aventurine beads interspersed with Berber silver spacer beads.

Drachma of Orodes II of Parthia on a necklace of rough turquoise heishi beads and Tibetan silver pumpkin beads.
A sales spiel
narrativises the Parthian coins, but fails to explain what either Parthian ruler had in common with either Tibetans or Berbers.

It is one thing to attempt to jusify the digging up of ancient sites to provide a discipline with material to study, but another to trash sites to produce dingle-dangles for Californians to hang round their necks, the sort of woman who needs explaining what a "sea urchin" is. Neither is any argument whatsoever for the trashing of sites and illegal export of artefacts for the foreign market. It seems the US collectors have too many ancient coins if they are casting round for ideas how to make money from them other than selling them to numismophilic "researchers". Not so long ago, the ACCG was getting annoyed with me for pointing out the some of its members were collecting ancient coins as geegaws, now we find one of its principal mouthpieces selling them precisely as geegaws, not as aids to "research about the past", not as "educational tools" but geegaws.

(Ms Welsh: Are those unspecified "Netsuke" of ivory? Those echinid spines are not really fossils are they, and what is "fossil agate"?)

Anyway my Daughter makes similar jewellery from Bohemian glass and natural stone beads and silver, just as glittery. The themes include Polish Constructivism, Bigos Style, Fluffy and Colourful and "Just Fun". No ancient sites or cultural objects were damaged in their production, no elephants killed. I think I'll start marketing them through the website "Save A Site, Don't Buy Wearable Antiquities from Bad Taste Dealers".
Vignette: MTV's Brittany Taylor gets classical.


Damien Huffer said...

Nauseating, isn't it! And that "release your inner goddess" sales pitch...give me a break!

Damien Huffer said...

and that sea urchin necklace is "aboriginal"?! Seriously?

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