Sunday, 26 May 2013

An Open Trade? Caveat emptor

The case of US citizen "JBH" who had been staying in Shtip, Macedonia and upon attempting to leave the country on 12th April was arrested and imprisoned for 30 days in Macedonia allegedly for attempting to take with him some ancient coins is an interesting footnote to the attempts by US collectors and dealers to talk of 'their rights' by claiming there exists an "open trade" in ancient coins in countries such as Macedonia and Bulgaria as if that justifies smuggling them out of the country (for example into the US). See for example one writer here, here and here.

According to the Macedonian customs agency (Prevented, New Attempt for exportation of Cultural Heritage', 13th April 2013, with photos), "JBH" had bought  a bunch of earth-crusted ancient coins from a Macedonian citizen "living in Shtip and dealing in sale of coins" at an arranged meeting (10th April?) at a roadside petrol station. My guess is that of the three 'Makpetrol' stations on the road from Shtip to Radovish (since both men were based in Shtip) it is this one (photo: 41°44'7.53"N   22°11'8.54"E) that was involved.
A petrol station to you and me, but business premises
for some Macedonia ancient coin dealers?

Now, I do not know where most US dugup ancient coin collectors make their purchases, maybe it is in pre-arranged deals in similar places, across a chip-greasy coffee-stained table at desert roadside cafes for example. As a mere layman it seems to me that a petrol station forecourt is not really the sort of place one would expect legitimate transactions with legitimate businessmen in a supposedly "open" market in erdfrische coins to take place.

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