Sunday, 5 May 2013

Stuttgart Coin Handler, Stefan Sonntag

The man at the centre of the Munich Bundesfinanzhof court case ("Antike Münzen..." and "Commercial Interests and the Munich Judiciary") has been revealed by Wayne Sayles to be Stefan Sonntag of  Münzen- und Medaillenhandlung Stuttgart  and 'AMS - Auktionen Meister und  Sonntag'. Their auction house specialises in: "die Versteigerung exklusiver Einzelstücke der Antike, des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit, sowie von bedeutenden Sammlungen". You can see their current offering here on 'sixbid'. The listings are as follows: 
Keltische Münzen (5), Griechische Münzen (110), Römische Münzen (116), Byzantinische Münzen (9), Völkerwanderungszeit (1), Orientalen (9), Kreuzfahrer (1), Lots antiker Münzen (26). Ausländische Münzen und Medaillen (835), Ausgewählte Personenmedaillen Aus dem Nachlaß von Dr. Elisabeth Nau (20), Lots ausländischer Münzen und Medaillen (30), Römisch-Deutsches Reich (141), Altdeutsche Münzen und Medaillen (905), Lots altdeutscher Münzen und Medaillen (42), Deutsche Münzen und Medaillen ab 1871 (156), Thematische Medaillen (15), Kunstmedaillen des schwäbischen Medailleurs Fritz Nuss (9), Münzwaagen (23).
So that is 341 ancient coins (plus 26 'lots') to about 2100 medieval and post-medieval/modern ones (plus 72 lots). This rather raises the question of what "coins and medals" it was that Mr Sonntag was exporting back in 2010 which was the subject of the court judgement.

As an archaeologist I would like to know, where do the dugup ancient coins Sonntag sells come from? None of the ones I looked at had anything resembling a collecting history listed. They are sold "as is" as if they had freshly "surfaced" on the market, which ones actually have and from where?  Does not Mr Sonntag consider that any number of them could have come (let him prove they did not) from archaeological sites or assemblages, and does he not consider that this finite and fragile resource is worthy of protection? Does he not think that German collectors have a part to play in that ongoing process, or does he shrug his shoulders and say it's not OUR problem? So, whose is it?  Does not the fault lie in a market that handles dugup artefacts with not a concern about where any of them came from? What is the position of the  Verbands der Deutschen Münzenhändleron this?

It is notable that Stefan Sonntag was president of the Verbands der Deutschen Münzenhändler which opposed the  ratification by Germany of the 1970 UNESCO 'Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property   ('Große Gefahr für den deutschen Münzenhandel'), which Germany nevertheless ratified on November 30, 2007. Back in 2004 and 2005 it seems the Münzenhandler were contesting just what "worthy of protection" means (of course suggesting that the items they themselves made their profits from handling and selling should not be considered as falling into that category). It seems Mr Sonntag never gave up trying to get dug-up discs of metal with writing and pictures on them treated differently from dug-up metal antiquities of any other shape.

But let him put a "Sonntag in the news" section on his website and give there some more information for the benefit of us all about just what coins it was that the Munich Bundesfinanzhof made its allegedly "historic" declaration on. Surely he has nothing to hide.

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