Thursday, 26 August 2010

Greeks Too Request US Clampdown on Handling Illegally Exported Artefacts

Apparently now Greece has joined the nations that has made a formal request to the USA for import restrictions on cultural property illegally exported from Greece. The material to be considered comprises archaeological and ethnological material from Greece dating to the Neolithic Period through the mid-eighteenth century. Good. It seems US museums cannot keep their hands off illegally exported clandestinely-excavated Greek artefacts, so it is unlikely that no-questions asked US collectors and dealers will exercise any more constraint. As one of the biggest foreign markets for such material, curbing imports of illicit artefacts will aid combatting the looting and trade in its products.

A lawyer representing US dealers and collectors comments on this on his blog: ECA Sets CPAC Hearing on Greek Request, calling the request "controversial" (how so?). He complains that "the time for comment is short, only until 9/22" so a full month. He also moans that "At this point, we know little about what artifacts Greeks seeks to restrict. The State Department has declared the country request to be "secret"..." Well, golly a communication between two governments, secret eh? Whatever next? Maybe Wikileaks will be able to show us what is in these gubn'mint documents too. In the meantime let us assume that the request covers archaeological and ethnological material from Greece dating to the Neolithic Period through the mid-eighteenth century. So dugup antiquities and certain types of handicrafts up to about the 1750s being imported without being accompanied by documentation of legitimate origins (ie legal export).

I suppose now this means that poor old Greece will join the list of countries which are the subject of Tompa's hate-blogging (China, Italy, Cyprus - notice a pattern here? USA has MOUs with other countries too, but Colombia Peru and the rest do not produce ancient coins).

The Greek request will be among the measures discussed at both open and closed meetings of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee on Tuesday-Thursday, October 12-14, 2010 (Greece, Peru, Columbia, Cyprus). After the pointless fax-bombing campaigns which the militant coineys stubbornly mount every time there is another US move to curb the import of illegally exported artefacts, Tompa feigns surprise that:
In addition, the State Department now evidently wants to avoid being deluged with faxes from concerned coin collectors. As a result, most public comment now must be made through the following website:
Comments by fax or by e-mail will no longer be accepted, but you can send texts by normal mail too. What is interesting is that comments submitted in electronic form will now be posted, unedited, on the Web site for all to see. That should be revealing. At the moment there is just (?) a comment by one A. Weiss about.... guess what? (yeah: how "coins should not be included in the agreement"). Coiney Weiss obviously has not read the blurb: "All oral and written comments must relate specifically to the determinations under Section303(a)(1) (19 U.S.C. § 2602) of the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act , pursuant to which the Committee must make findings" (when will they learn? Or perhaps they cannot read? Perhaps here is a clue why the State department is not a fan of the irrelevant fax machine set up by V-Coins and the ACCG?).

If you want to comment on the Greek request, you need to type the code DOS-2010-0339 in the search box. It seems to me that the list of countries indicates you do not have to live in the US to do so.

I wonder how many Greek coins with no provenance documentation offered upfront there will be in the upcoming ACCG Benefit Auction being mounted at the same time as public comment is being invited on the Greek request? I think I'll wait until their auction opens before making my own comment.

UPDATE: it is already up, some Greek stuff, low on provenance and information on collecting history. I'll do a post on this later.

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