Wednesday 15 January 2014

'Memorandum of Understanding with the Republic of Bulgaria Signed

Nathan Elkins has the story first: ('Memorandum of Understanding with the Republic of Bulgaria Enacted, Coins Included in the Protective Measures' Numismatics and Archaeology blog, Wednesday, January 15, 2014). Peter Tompa it seems wanted to keep this one quiet. Bulgarian news agencies are reporting that the United States and the Republic of Bulgaria signed a Memorandum of Understanding to prevent the trafficking of looted and stolen cultural items ("US, Bulgaria Sign Cultural Heritage Protection Memorandum," The Sofia Globe, January 14, 2014).
The MoU with Bulgaria is momentous.[...], Bulgaria is one of the primary source countries for illicitly traded metal artifacts and ancient coins.  Smuggled finds are imported and sold in the United States by the tens of thousands; the problem has been written about and studied extensively since the 1990s.
It was signed by both parties on January 14th
The agreement authorises the US department of homeland security to prevent the import into the United States of Bulgarian cultural heritage items without a licence issued by the Bulgarian government and commits the US government to publish a list of prohibited items, which are to be seized unless the importer presents such a license.
Commercial lobby groups in the United States and abroad have fought vigorously against the inclusion of ancient coins in Memoranda of Understanding.  It is, therefore, notable that coins that primarily circulated in and are found in ancient Bulgaria are subject to protection. The list includes post-Classical coins too which is interesting. The list reportedly includes: 
d. Coinage of the First and Second Bulgarian Empires and Byzantine Empire – Struck in gold, silver, and bronze by Bulgarian and Byzantine emperors at mints within the modern state of Bulgaria. Approximate date: 4th century A.D. through A.D. 1396.
e. Ottoman coins – Struck at mints within the modern state of Bulgaria. Approximate date: A.D. 1396 through A.D. 1750.
A big thank you to all those who lent their support to this measure.


Cultural Property Observer said...

This is all pre-determined by the bureaucrats at State. They ignored 70% of the public opinion opposing the MOU or its extension to coins. You and your few fellows just give them cover for what they plan to do anyway, no matter what the public comments or CPAC for that matter thinks. This is a big joke.

Nathan Elkins said...

CPAC members are well-educated experts from a variety of professions and disciplines. They weigh the quality and substance of written and oral comments; they do not act as arbiters over a popularity contest.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Thank you and we know from statements from 2 former CPAC members (including a past chairman) that CPAC recommended against import restrictions on Cypriot and Italian coins and after State took heat for overturning such recommendations, State stopped conferring with CPAC on the composition of the designated list. I'd also note in recent years, CPAC has become packed with archaeologists or archaeological supporters in slots not reserved for archaeologists. I suggest you read what former CPAC members themselves have said at event like the CPRI event in Washington, DC

Larry Rothfield said...

Is there a good study on the worldwide trade in coins that shows how big the market for imported coins is in the US versus other countries?

Paul Barford said...

Obviously a difficult thing to quantify when other countries have different criteria for the legality of such collections. Rick St Hilaire has some figures on imports on his blog from about two years ago. I would imagine if they really wanted to, trade associations like the IAPN and PNG could collate information from their members.

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