Friday 17 January 2014

US Dugup Dealers' Dream Team Proposal

In the latest naively infantile post to emerge from the US coiney lobby we read this joyfully triumphant announcement echoing several similar recent pronouncements from the same milieu about voices of support at the highest levels in the current US administration:
Cultural Property Observer has been assured that the Historic[al] Coin Circulation Commission is likely to meet with approval at the highest levels of American Government, a place where some well placed "coineys" apparently serve in anonymity but with some distinction.
No prizes for guessing which distinguished stirrer, a Mr Congeniality  who claims to have the ear and sympathies of the whole of Washington, would be behind that. Note the choice of sources for the membership of this proposed commission which is totally symptomatic of the rampant Washington chauvinism we have observed many times among US coiney ideologists, the proposal does not envisage the participation of even a single professional numismatist from the countries affected by the proposal. This is despite the fact that these are numismatists who would be expected to have a lot more experience of coin findspots and distribution patterns than a bunch of coinshop keepers across the Ocean. This is typical of the attitudes of this bunch of heritage grabbers to the rest of the world. Only the "ever fair (sic) Brits from the BM" (Roger Bland and his Merry Men) are envisaged as contributing their time to this "dealers' dream team" - to what end?

According to the coin dealers' lobbyist's proposal, although there is no legal sanction in CCPIA for the input of such an additional advisory group concerned with a single class of material on the Designated Lists, this nine-member public-funded commission "will be instrumental in deciding what coin types are local" and what coin types circulated in international trade. The idea of this is "so they can remain in American collectors' trays and also continue to travel in the international coiney trade without fear of seizure".  Basically what the IAPN and PNG representative is suggesting is that a hoard of Athenian tetras (or dekas maybe?) looted from a site in Southern Greece and smuggled to the US via Leipzig and Paris should pass safely through the hands of IAPN and PNG as well as ACCG dealers because a "they can't touch you for it" American commission has decided unilaterally that this type of coin shall not be protected by international convention or local law? What kind of international cultural heritage protection programme would that be? Is this really what the IAPN, PNG and ACCG dealers stand for? What is the matter with these people? 

It really is difficult to comment on this proposal with any seriousness. I refer the reader to Dr Nathan Elkins' succinct remarks on the subject.
Mr. Tompa proposes a commission to study coin circulation expressly for the purpose of MoUs. It would be easier to open some books. Research is already there. There is also some irony in his proposal to quantify find spot data to excuse importing looted coins for commercial profit, the consequence of which is the loss of find spot and archaeological data.
What is indeed ironic is that when it is necessary, it seems that the representative of the dealers' groups is suggesting that the US coin trade can actually come up with enough (verifiable, for how could it be otherwise?) provenance information for a sizeable number of examples of whole classes of artefacts where they have previously claimed such information is not retrievable. I suppose it comes down not to whether they 'can' but whether they 'will'.


Cultural Property Observer said...

you might note the proposal is labeled as "humor/satire/irony." I guess you don't get that either.

Paul Barford said...

Oh, it's supposed to be FUNNY!! Ha ha, lawyers' humour. Sort of like metal detectorists' humour then?

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