Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Coiney Lawyer: "These coins could have been found in America"

Peter Tompa continues his 'gottcha' exploration of Chinese antiquities preservation legislation. In referring to my post about the ACCG Baltimore cash coin seizure that Tompa's firm are being paid lots of money to steer through the courts, Mr T. says I am "silly". He asserts this based on two considerations. The first is that:
doesn't the fact that the standard work on them predates the Chinese law suggest they were widely collected in the West before 1930?
No. Schoth's work to which I referred was the first proper guide to collectors (as the author in his preface points out) which means serious collectors could not follow the old adage "first buy the book" until its publication in 1929. Once however a type series was in circulation, the popularity of the serious collecting this material would have been increased, which would be reflected in the stocks of dealers only after that time. I think collectors in the Ancient Coin Collectors' Guild might cringe at the person who is represents them in their fight against measures intended to clean up the US market referring to Schjoth 1929 as "the standard work"!

The other reason Tompa asserts I am "silly" is:
Chinese cash probably exist in the millions, if not billions. They circulated widely outside China, as far as West Africa. They even find them in the US brought there by Chinese immigrants. [...] In China, they were likely still treated as media of exchange as opposed to relics at the time the statute was written. (They were made until the end of the Chinese Empire, c. 1911.) Even in China today, they are widely collected without any provenance information whatsoever.
well, the last assertion is meaningless, since the question that Tompa was discussing at the beginning when he was mean-mindedly hounding somebody at the beginning of this series of posts was export and export licences. He seems to want us to forget this now.

Now, Chinese cash coins of the type Tompa's clients imported through Baltimore did not "circulate widely" in West Africa. Later cash coins are found there, but unless the context shows otherwise, I cannot see why Tompa sees them as evidence of monetary circulation. This is "Gavin Menzies stuff". Whether or not they were made in thousands or millions is neither here nor there when we are talking not about thousands, but the particular coins that came through Baltimore and their origins with reference to Tompa's own (incomplete) presentation of the Chinese legislation.

If we look at the ones that were figured in a coiney magazine article about the seizure (top photo) we see three Ban Liang coins, and two Wu Shu coins at the bottom (some have been photographed upside down and on their side).

In an effort to claim that that the 1930 law he himself applies to other artefacts does not apply to them, Tompa suggests it is possible they could have been in circulation even in the twentieth century - in other words taken out of circulation and into a western collector's pocket before 1930. Really? So why then do they have corrosion products on them? (Leaving aside the issue of what those corrosion products actually look like). If these were Han (or at any rate pre-Sui dynasty) coins which had still been in circulation until 1929 as Tompa says is "possible", they would not look like this, they would be worn, and have brown oxide patinas.

Like this one: This is one of the cash coins made and circulating at the end of the Imperial period of China. It is of a completely different type (above all it has an inscription on both faces) and has a completely different patina from the Baltimore ones. How can the coiney's lawyer claim they cannot be distinguished? Tompa has announced:
I will publish no more comments from Mr. Barford and Ian on this subject. Others may feel free to comment ...
It is perhaps not surprising to find that he does not want to actually answer the questions raised by the material he attempts to use to entrap others. Cultural Property Observer is I would argue a liability for the "collectors' rights" avocacy movement. May it long continue to function as such.

Photo top: the actual coins imported by ACCG dealers through Baltimore, did they leave China before 1930?

Photo, bottom: The coins coiney lawyer Tompa apparently cannot distinguish from the above: Pu Yi (throne name Hsuan-T'ung 1908-1911/12) Not the same coin at all

1 comment:

David Ian said...

Let's all call on the "aliens" to return their "other cultures" to China, shall we?

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