Wednesday 9 November 2011

Per Lucem ad... What? Welsh on "Barford's Attack on Wayne Sayles"

Coin dealer Dave Welsh obviously gets awfully confused reading my blog. He complains of it:
It is extremely difficult in reading his blog to distinguish between what is actually the law, what Mr. Barford wishes the law to be, and what he is fantasizing about at the moment. Everything is blurred together in a manner that tends to be very confusing and unclear.
Hmm. It seems to me that a coin dealer dealing in coins, especially if he is the chair of the ACCG International Affairs committee (as obviously should every dealer and collector), should jolly well know what the law actually is without having to read about it on my blog. When I cite the law, I generally give a link which the curious or sceptical can click on to check the actual wording. It's not very difficult to click on links, is it? I think Welsh's problem is he reads far too laterally of the real meaning of my words. For instance the above remark is prompted by the allegation that "Paul Barford believes" and then followed by a passage which does not represent my views at all (and that hardly can be due to me being laconic about what I think about various aspects of the issues surrounding the collecting or portable antiquities). Whatever happened to that old coin dealers' lobby group jingo-motto: Per lucem ad veritatem? Where is the "light" in what these people say, where is the "truth"?

Welsh calls his post "[Paul] Barford Attacks Wayne Sayles" and alleges that: "Mr. Barford attacks [...] Wayne Sayles [as though he] were some sort of criminal". Do I? Only in Welsh's over-productive imagination. What I say is that in the short text I was analysing, Sayles uses false arguments to justify no-questions-asked collecting of what he regards as "minor antiquities". I point out that seen from the point of view of the preservation of the archaeological record, there is no such thing. I consider that in his comment in Forbes magazine, Sayles was guilty of either ignorance or spin (or perhaps both), but not a "crime".

The next bit of Welsh's tirade is priceless. Before remarking - without any justifying arguments to counter those I presented against such a notion - that this was a "rational point of view":
The "silent majority" of archaeologists know very well that coin collectors and the dealers who support them are not any significant threat to archaeology. They instead perceive antiquities collectors and dealers who seek major objects such as statues, fine ceramic art and other very valuable collectibles as being those whose activities tend to support a view that the collecting of such objects creates a market that motivates looting of archaeological sites.
Do they? Where does this come from? Could the ACCG get their "friends" in the PAS for example to substantiate that view? That the only nighthawks worth bothering about are those that go out with crowbars looking for statues in the Roman villas of England? Where is this evidence that there is any "silent majority" in archaeology anywhere who does not consider the current form of the antiquities trade to be a significant threat to archaeology? There are individuals who say such things that is true (I think they are wrong), but I would like to see any evidence that such views are a majority one in archaeology, silent or not. For all my scepticism about British archaeologists and their love for the PAS I do not think that is what they would say about the current form of the antiquities market - indeed many artefact hunters collaborating with the PAS will say the same thing about the market to which Mr Welsh is referring. What self-deceiving nonsense Welsh is pumping out here!

Anyway coin dealer Welsh reckons my blog "drives yet another nail in the already very securely fastened coffin of the long since exploded myth that "collecting equals looting"..." and exhorts me to continue blogging about these issues. Yes, yes I expect I will. But what I actually say - please note Mr W. - is that "no-questions-asked collecting supports looting", please note the difference. I have yet to see anything that the dealers in freshly surfaced artefacts in the US have written which actually comes anywhere near even addressing the point (actually being) made, let alone "exploding" it. I rather think the consistent failure to address this issue and continual fight by the ACCG against efforts to clean up the market (the MOUs, the minimalist measures of the CCPIA, whipping up unthinking mob indignation among collectors in pursuit of its "aims") are driving the nails into a completely different coffin. That of the no-questions-asked antiquities trade which it is becoming clear to ever more people has flourished in its current damaging could-not-care-less form for far too long.

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