Wednesday 7 December 2016

US Dealers Moaning about Market Hygiene

'Ptolemaic empire' (wikimedia Eubulides)
US coin fondlers, instead of being happy that steps are being taken to clean up the Wild West US dugup market (already full chockablock with antiquities imported in huge quantities from all over the ancient world) are claiming they are being treated unfairly. This is despite the fact that throughout its existence the treatment by the dugup antiquities market of the citizens' rights of inhabitants of the source countries (mostly 'brown-skinned folk' which in their endemic manifest destiny orientalism, the dealers look down upon)  has been anything but fair. Here is one of their paid lobbyists slimeballing his way through the facts:
This is significant because such restrictions ignore evidence that demonstrates that Egyptian mint coins are regularly discovered outside of Egypt.  [...]  Hoard evidence confirms Ptolemaic coins from Egyptian mints circulated throughout the Ptolemaic Empire which stretched well beyond the confines of modern-day Egypt [...] They also ignored finds reported under the UK's PAS that show Roman Egyptian Tetradrachms circulated as far away as Roman Britain. 
This is really dodgy argumentation.  Firstly those hoard coins from elsewhere in the Ptolemaic Empire cannot be reaching the market legally, since in all the countries concerned, the reporting and surrender of any discovered hoard to the authorities is mandatory (as it is in the UK too). Any dealer handling material which has been dug up and not reported is dealing in illicit and stolen goods. Any dealer handling such material who insists that despite these constraints the material in his stockroom has been obtained in a means entirely in accord with all applicable laws is story-telling unless he has documentation which demonstrates that which can be passed on to the responsible purchaser. If there is no such documentation, the dealer concerned should not pretend to the title 'responsible dealer', because he has not bought in any way responsibly. 

As I say, if those hoard coins are reaching the market illegally, then there is no justification for them being imported into the US. They should be stopped at the border and the consigner identified and the authorities in the country where he or she does business should be alerted.  

And if a coin dealer has acquired a Ptolemaic or Alexandrine coin found, say, in Southern Turkey, and legally entering the market - and thus not falling under the CCPIA import restrictions (as the lobbyist argues), then presenting the documentation of that fact is enough to get it through US borders. It's when he cannot document that fact that any 'problems' begin. But then by buying coins with no documentation that demonstrate full legality, he is courting trouble and has himself to blame if he has problems shifting them. 

Secondly, I would be interested to see where the numismatic (sic) lobbyist gets the information that Alexandrian dekas 'circulated' in Roman Britain. Were they used for tesaurisation and occur as deliberate deposits in hoards? Are they site losses in market areas in small towns? Were they placed in graves? In fact, as I pointed out two years ago ('Alexandrian Tetras and US Coiney Dishonesty ') many of the records in the database of the PAS make it clear that these out-of-place finds were in fact most likely modern losses (another possibility is that some are 'plants' by the metal detectorist 'finder' or a rally organizer seeding a field with bulk-bought junk artefacts). 

How 'regularly' they are found where is of course totally unknown, as most coins instead of being reported and catalogued when found, end up illegally on the antiquities market, where the first act is to 'launder' it, making the findspot totally unrecoverable, so the dealers can pretend the object is from 'an old collection' and nobody can touch any of them for being party to the deception.  This has to stop, so much information is being sacrificed to coin fondling and base commercial interests.

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