Thursday, 3 December 2015

Berks, Profits and Trashed History

Berk dealer
Trying to increase his client base, archaeologist-hating coin dealer Harlan J. Berk, wants to create a "foundation" to introduce the frisson of coin fondling to a wider public: "HJB Ltd. Establishes “History in your Hands Foundation”..."  (Coins Weakly December 3, 2015).
The founder of HJB Ltd., has for decades made it his object to share his enthusiasm for numismatics with others. So the goals of his recently established “History in your Hands Foundation” were easy to specify [...] to communicate to others how incredibly diverse and fascinating numismatics can be. We plan to organize and finance programs that will show young and older people alike just how much history can be represented by a single coin that you hold in your hand. We intend to bring the study of coins back into schools, beginning of course in Chicago. But we hope that eventually the foundation will help to popularize numismatics right across America, and even internationally. 
Tangible show-and-tell fodder.
Mr Berk's got a shop full
And I hope the AIA follow up and inform the Chicago public, when it is not accompanied by rigorous diligence to ensure the artefacts come from licit sources, just how much history is destroyed by artefact hunters, middlemen and greedy dealers putting that one geegaw into an American hand. Not that this would bother a real Berk, enthusiastic about playing their part in the process.

Here is a piece of US history, a carved state quarter in the hand. Come on then, Mr Berk, show us "how diverse and fascinating" noomismatic fondling is, get the world collecting State Quarters. Go on, plenty of opportunity for pseudo-erudite show-and-tellism there. Fascinating, you say? Show us.

So what happened to the 'American Coins for Education' (ACE) scheme?

UPDATE 7th December 2015
When you hold yourself to be a "professional numismatist" in the US, it seems normal literacy skills can safely be abandoned. The above post is characterised by one of the least self-critical of them:
A really characteristic blog post illustrates the mantra of radical archaeology: private individuals should not be allowed to possess artifacts, they should be reserved for the exclusive purpose of study by archaeologists and other academics
Well, of course that is not at all what I said. I own and drive a car and have the documents which allow it to be verified any time I need to demonstrate it that it is a car I bought from a licit source and is not stolen, have title to sell, and has passed all the required tests of roadworthiness. Only a complete airhead would believe that in saying all owners should ensure they have the same to remove stolen and unroadworthy cars from our roads, you are really saying "nobody should own cars". But then if you are an airhead, you tend to end up working in a shop.

And I suppose if you work in a coin shop ("would you like that in a bag, sir?"),  the fact that another coin shop owner is criticised might be considered "putrid vitriol" as Disgruntled Coinshopguy Dave has it,  but I think many of the rest of my readers will see that, in the dozen or so of my own words above which are actually about Mr Berk, I have a point.

 [as for the challenge: see now here]

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