Wednesday 16 November 2011

Ethical US Coineys Only to be Found in Cloud Cuckoo Land?

Münzhändler David von Welsch
has - by his own account a vast stock over in California of "many thousands of uncatalogued coins". He says however that anyone looking for ethical behaviour among those handling dugup coins in the US is inhabiting the 'Νεφελοκοκκυγία' (Cloud Cuckoo Land) of Aristophanes, except for some reason he said it in German.

Well, I am glad he said it and not me. He apparently thinks that the unreasonableness of expecting real ethics involved should be clear "
to anyone who is genuinely capable of critical and discriminating thinking, who really desires to comprehend the very complex issues we are discussing". Actually the issue is not all that complex, in the case we were discussing (Mr Snible's exported coin), the lack of an export licence makes the transaction illicit in the understanding of the 1970 UNESCO Convention Art. 3, how can any real code of ethics, or body of personal principles, ignore that simple black and white fact? The only "complexities" get introduced by the ruffians who WANT to ignore that and create some kind of a pseudo-discussion about what makes them, individually and collectively, in some way above all that. The rest of us are left wondering what is complex there at all, and who is actually trying to live in another world, operating to other rules which only apply to "the other guys"?

UPDATE 17.11.2011: Welsh dishonestly attempts a sleight-of-hand deflection of attention from what he actually said to another issue, now in a text which is both insulting and misleading he says that ancient coins should not concern archaeologists because they were not all buried (or something, the logic escapes me). I leave it to others to discuss the relevance - or not - of his cock-and-bull stories about gold coins in Ottoman coffers and "purses" hidden by soldiers before a battle. What was being discussed here was export licences and codes of ethics, and it is to that which Welsh clearly referred when he accused me and those who share my viewpoint on the no-questions-asked antiquities trade of living in "Cloud Cuckoo Land".

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