Friday, 28 January 2011

Check Valves and Obfuscation


An engineer by trade, Dave Welsh reckons that the bilateral cultural property agreement with Italy is going to function like a "check valve" on the flow of coins into and out of the US. He reckons its going to result in all the coins of restricted type going out of the US and not coming back. Also he predicts that:
the intention of the AIA and its minions in the State Department is clearly to work toward gradually expanding import restrictions until they apply to all ancient coins.
Yeah, right, not under the 1983 CCPIA they won't. It is with this US law Welsh has problems. I suspect he's not even read it recently. If he had, he would not say:
Coins of "Italian types" on the Restricted list (like coins of Cypriot and Chinese types before them) are assumed to have been "first found" in the modern state within whose borders they were struck. That is not, however, the accepted legal definition of discovery
It is also not what the CCPIA says, so here Welsh is trying to provoke alarm by making things up. See my post here for his ACCG sidekick Tompa doing the same kind of misleading. But the next point is really ridiculous.
Meanwhile importers will be required to satisfy a requirement to provide an export permit from the state with which the relevant MOU was negotiated, or evidence that each item involved was outside that state on the date the MOU was agreed to, or ten years prior to the date the item was shipped. The exact nature of such documentation is not specified, however in the past Customs has shown a strong bias toward photographic evidence.
The CCPIA specifies perfectly adequately what documentation is needed, and there of course as any fool who cares to look NO MENTION there of any "photographic evidence". (This statement draws on an anecdote from Tompa's blog about ONE Customs officer in New York). Welsh then adds as though its some great discovery of his:
It would be wise for US collectors and dealers to whom coins are shipped from auction houses and dealers outside the US to obtain agreements from their sources that the documentation necessary to satisfy Customs will be sent with the coins.
This is of course the whole point - but then its what anyone trading dugup artefacts between two countries party to the 1970 UNESCO Convention is obliged to do. Welsh then spoils the good advice by again whining (falsely):
At this moment, it is unfortunately not clear as to exactly what form of documentation will be required.
It seems to have escaped Welsh's attention that the trade in antiquities does not just consist of his beloved coins. Dealers in other types of antiquities, Greek vases, classical statuary, terracottas, intaglios and seals, glass, pre-Columbian antiquities of various types, not to mention ethnographic material, all of it coming from the dozen or so countries with which the US already has functioning MOUs manage to get their stuff through without making all this fuss. The CCPIA has existed since 1983. These problems have been faced and overcome by other US dealers since 1983. The US market has not been depleted overnight by all the types of artefacts covered in existing MOUs suddenly disappearing, the MOU has not acted as a 'check valve' or had the dire effects Welsh predicts.

Ah, well, the coineys will say "coins are different". No, no they are not. They differ only in one respect, the people who deal in them behave like they are a specific breed, with a petulant-child-like mentality intent on kicking up a fuss about everything, quite unperturbed by the impression they are making.

If they do not understand "what kind of documentation" is needed, perhaps they need to join some kind of antiquity dealers' association and learn from its members. Quite obviously they are not going to get this information from the ACCG, which seems either totally lost, or permanently intent on disseminating misinformation among collectors and other dealers.

UPDATE: Summing up all his reserves of personal culture Dave Welsh replies in a post called: 'Barford the Ignoramus' and here's another one, 'Barford: A Frustrated Talent' with the inevitable Nazi parallel. I can't really see there any explanation of why he thinks the CCPIA does not state what kind of documentation (two types) is needed to import cultural property into the USA covered by the provisions of the Act. But I guess getting that straight was never the ACCG's intention.

Vignette: a check valve


Cultural Property Observer said...

Since you bring it up just to pooh pooh the sigificance of the reference, the Customs official in question was none other than SAFE Beacon award winner James McAndrew. Wonder where he got his extra-legal interpretation of the CPIA's documentation requirements? From SAFE or the AIA no doubt. Extra-legal enforcement on top of extra-legal rule making is just par for the course.

Peter Tompa

Paul Barford said...

What "significance"? You used it as an anecdote to show (even) individual US Customs officers get it wrong, one-way valve Welsh wants his readers to believe it's standard procedure.

Cultural Property Observer said...

You should read SAFE's press release about McAndrew's position at CBP before you discount his significance-- anyway, I'm glad you acknowledge that his construction of the statutory requriments was wrong.

Paul Barford said...

IF that is what he said, but actually as far as I can see, all we have is your say-so and I do not regard CPO as a reliable source of information.

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.