Tuesday 7 February 2012

"Legal because cheap"?

Minnesota dugup coin collector Jorg Lueke in a post called "Most Ancient Coins are Legal and Undocumented" writes about this dreadful "Paul Barford, an extreme archaeoloist living in Poland" who according to him "has almost arrived at the crux of the matter regarding import restrictions". Wow, all those years looking at the antiquities trade and now I achieve coiney acclaim (what is an "extreme archaeologist"?). The "crux of the matter", according to Lueke, is the fact that "most coins being traded today by volume [in the USA] are not covered MOUs”, coupled with the fact that these bulk lots are not above a certain threshold level for the National Stolen Property Act makes them legally "not stolen". Well, I guess Mr Lueke would know more about what is considered stolen and what is not considered stealing in the US than me; I personally reckon half-inching a packet of fags from a newspaper stand is stealing, regardless of the value of the item. Obviously this is something that collectors with convictions of their own may not endorse.

Lueke goes on to express the view that:
US Customs law is only going to deal with those items specified in MOUs [...] this is a minority of all the ancient coins on the market.
Mr Lueke has clearly not been paying attention to recent events in the collecting word. As I mentioned on this blog, the self-appointed "leaders" of the dealer-lobbyist ilk are making sure that discussion of recent events is minimalised. Mr Lueke is under-informed. Another way in which collectors keep themselves under-informed is by not actually reading the relevant documents. Lueke says:
The UNESCO Convention deals with illicit trade so, for Mr. Barford's assertion to be true, he must believe that the majority of coins on the market right now are illicit. I believe the majority of coins being traded are in fact licit. (punctuation corrected -PMB)
Well, article 3 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention defines illicit trade, Mr Lueke may prefer to "believe" what he likes, the wording of the Convention is quite clear how the licit origins of cultural property on the market will be expressed, and its not by mere assumption.

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