Tuesday 23 August 2011

Professional Numismatics in the USA Underdeveloped?

Mr Welsh is indignant about my earlier post stating what, as a result of my own contacts with professional numismatists over many years as an archaeologist and medievalist, I consider to be a professional numismatist (and in particular that I do not think the term properly applies to a mere coin dealer with the ability to recognise the difference between one coin and another):
If we are to take this verbiage at face value, then according to [...] Barford, the nation of Poland alone can claim to the distinction of having a larger number of qualified "professional numismatists" than the United States, in which it is credibly estimated that roughly half of all ancient coin collectors in the world reside and half of the world's numismatic trade is carried on.
There he leaves it, it seems coin dealer Dave Welsh does not know enough about the number of qualified "professional numismatists" employed in academic and cultural institutions in the USA, but it must, surely, be bigger than any other country because it is the United States of America. Since he himself earlier said there were about "two dozen" in the whole country, I cannot see that, head for head of the population especially, that actually it is not. It would be interesting to do a proper headcount across several countries (USA, Canada) compared with some in Europe (UK, France, Germany, Poland, Albania). The results might be interesting.

Despite gobbling up, as the ACCG dealer admits, "half of the world's numismatic trade" of freshly surfaced and curated numismatic objects, as an academic discipline numismatics would seem to be, on the information he offers, relatively poorly developed in the USA and largely in amateur hands. These it seems from what is presented as their main "professional expertise" to prefer typological studies to the analytical work practised by those that use numismatic material in a more academic context.

This seems a phenomenon worthy of much closer examination with regard the use of all these coins for a study of the past" which is generally used as one of the main arguments for not doing anything that might restrict the flow of "freshly surfaced" coins onto the US market. Perhaps this coiney argument needs re-examination?

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