Jump to content
CoinPeople.com

Has anyone seen the “A Question of Ownership” in the latest issue of The Numismatist?


porcupine
 Share

Recommended Posts

I know we all have been complaining about the ban of export of coins from Russia, and, until recently, from Poland. But did anybody know that the US government could be assisting various countries in enforcing these types of bans?

 

It turns out that under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act the US government enters into these agreements (MoU) with foreign countries to restrict import of undocumented archeological objects. Coins can be included on the list of such objects.

 

Right now the MoU with Italy is up for renewal and Italian coins older than 250 years may be included. Cyprus already has an MoU with the US under which Cypriot coins older than 300 years can be confiscated if you do not have Cypriot government permission to take them out of Cyrpus.

 

I am all for improving US-Russia relations, but will that mean that in the future we will have an MoU with them which includes coins too?

 

What boggles the mind is that there is a numismatic organization in the US (ANS) that supports including coins in the Italian MoU. What would there motivation be?

 

What do you all think? Does anybody know who we should write to in order to stop this from happening?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know we all have been complaining about the ban of export of coins from Russia, and, until recently, from Poland. But did anybody know that the US government could be assisting various countries in enforcing these types of bans?

 

It turns out that under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act the US government enters into these agreements (MoU) with foreign countries to restrict import of undocumented archeological objects. Coins can be included on the list of such objects.

 

Right now the MoU with Italy is up for renewal and Italian coins older than 250 years may be included. Cyprus already has an MoU with the US under which Cypriot coins older than 300 years can be confiscated if you do not have Cypriot government permission to take them out of Cyrpus.

 

I am all for improving US-Russia relations, but will that mean that in the future we will have an MoU with them which includes coins too?

 

What boggles the mind is that there is a numismatic organization in the US (ANS) that supports including coins in the Italian MoU. What would there motivation be?

 

What do you all think? Does anybody know who we should write to in order to stop this from happening?

I am not sure what exactly you are looking to accomplish. If you want to influence the American numismatic organizations against supporting the inclusion of ancient coins in the export restrictions of foreign countries, then you should write to them. Their addresses are readily available on the internet.

 

If you want to influence the US agreement with foreign countries and the enforcement of the restrictions, I believe that can only be done through official channels, namely your Senator or Congressman, and a change in the Act itself.

 

The problem with that is that it is not up to the US to determine what foreign governments want to consider part of their nations' Cultural Heritage.

 

All the US can do, and certainly should do, is respect the decision each country has a perfectly legitimate right to make.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The topic has not generated a lot of discussion on this list and it might be a good thing. It can generate a lot of passion and extreme language. The time for comment was late winter, early spring prior to the hearings. I do not believe the ANS took a stand in favor of including coins. I do not believe the ANS took a stand against including coins. The topic requires a good deal of discussion and understanding about what exactly might be included or not. There are many good reasons why one should not want to see a blanket agreement covering coins. There are many good reasons why one would want to see rules that prohibit the import of illegally exported coins. As I say, it is a complex issues and thoughtful articles such as that in the Numismatist help focus the discussion on the pertinent issues.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The topic has not generated a lot of discussion on this list and it might be a good thing. It can generate a lot of passion and extreme language. The time for comment was late winter, early spring prior to the hearings. I do not believe the ANS took a stand in favor of including coins. I do not believe the ANS took a stand against including coins. The topic requires a good deal of discussion and understanding about what exactly might be included or not. There are many good reasons why one should not want to see a blanket agreement covering coins. There are many good reasons why one would want to see rules that prohibit the import of illegally exported coins. As I say, it is a complex issues and thoughtful articles such as that in the Numismatist help focus the discussion on the pertinent issues.

 

 

Bill,

 

Thank you for the insightful post. I didn't realize that ANS may have not taken a stance against including coins.

 

Indeed, these are complex issues. However, there is a general consensus on this forum that Russian laws that prohibit export of coins older than 50 years are outdated and are designed to keep the vast bureaucracy busy. They do not benefit anyone, including Russian museums, Russian collectors, and advancement of numismatic research in general. I can also make a case that they take business away from Russian coins dealer community, and also promote corruption.

 

So as it comes to Russian coins I see no good reason for the US government to be supportive of such Russian laws through MoU under this Act. I will also say I don’t see many good reasons for the US government to support similar Italian laws as they pertain to coins (at least most common coins—and when I say that I do realize that everyone has s different definition of “common”)

 

There are clearly valid reasons to prohibit export of illegally obtained (looted, stolen, etc.) archeological artifacts that are culturally significant. It ludicrous to try to make a case that all coins fit that description--something that The Numismatist discusses in much better detail than I can here (although they don’t call such attempts ludicrous).

 

As Maya correctly pointed out above the US should respect foreign laws, but IMHO it should not be making an effort or spending resources to support them if they do not benefit anyone, or maybe even harm somebody.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is complete article available for reading on internet ( link? )

I would appreciate reading in full this article before responding to topic-starter :ninja:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not sure what exactly you are looking to accomplish. If you want to influence the American numismatic organizations against supporting the inclusion of ancient coins in the export restrictions of foreign countries, then you should write to them. Their addresses are readily available on the internet.

 

If you want to influence the US agreement with foreign countries and the enforcement of the restrictions, I believe that can only be done through official channels, namely your Senator or Congressman, and a change in the Act itself.

 

The problem with that is that it is not up to the US to determine what foreign governments want to consider part of their nations' Cultural Heritage.

 

All the US can do, and certainly should do, is respect the decision each country has a perfectly legitimate right to make.

 

What I am hoping to accomplish is, when this MoU with Italy is renewed, coins are not included. I am not trying to influence American numismatic organizations: they are already against including coins in such MoUs. According to The Numismatist the ANS is the only exception. I was just wondering if anybody knew why they would support including coins, but, as Bill explained, they may not have supported inclusion of coins. And I am not hoping to change the law, just want to keep coins out of these agreements. Probably official channels are the way to go. The Numismatist mentions Cultural Property Advisory Committee. Maybe I should look them up and try to write to them. If anyone here feels the way that I do, I would suggest they write to them too, so when time comes to sign an MoU with Russia it will be easier for us to keep coins out of that MoU.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am all for improving US-Russia relations, but will that mean that in the future we will have an MoU with them which includes coins too?

 

The government of the former Soviet Union sold off at auction many Russian coins (and other significant cultural properties) at various times in the past. It's hard to understand how a successor government could then lay claim to them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is complete article available for reading on internet ( link? )

I would appreciate reading in full this article before responding to topic-starter :ninja:

 

 

If you are an ANA member the following link should work for you:

 

http://www.money.org/AM/Template.cfm?Secti...sePreview=False

 

The article is on page 92 of the August issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One can find coverage of the testimony of numismatists at this link. Check the links to other columns on the right. CPAC indicates the columns that cover the hearings. Some confusion about ANS might come from the fact that one person giving testimony (on their own behalf) is vice president of the AIA (supporting the inclusion of coins) and an ANS member (taking no stand as I understand it). Another member of the ANS spoke against including coins, but again, they were speaking on their own behalf. The difficulty comes in the fact that coins are not included in the statement of renewal of the existing agreement, but some argue for their inclusion and the commission could decide to include them whether Italy asks for them to be included or not,

 

While Russia may prohibit the export of coins (as does Turkey), that is much different from asking for a cultural property MOU. The cultural property agreements under UNESCO are much different from a country enacting and enforcing general import/export laws. I think it is illegal to export large quantities of minor US coins at present because their intrinsic value is greater than their face value. I think it is also illegal to melt them down. That doesn't mean we can't collect US coins, just as we could always collect gold coins even when it was illegal to hold gold in bulk form.

 

Again, read and educate yourself, communicate your beliefs to government commissions when the opportunity presents itself, but understand the complexity of the issues at hand. An informed opinion carries more weight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One can find coverage of the testimony of numismatists at this link. Check the links to other columns on the right.

thanks for a link, not everyone is ANA member :ninja:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks for a link, not everyone is ANA member :ninja:

I have not read an article yet, but I recalled that recently (possible this spring) I received one on auction catalog and there was a fly to participate in this issue regarding italian coins ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One can find coverage of the testimony of numismatists at this link. Check the links to other columns on the right. CPAC indicates the columns that cover the hearings. Some confusion about ANS might come from the fact that one person giving testimony (on their own behalf) is vice president of the AIA (supporting the inclusion of coins) and an ANS member (taking no stand as I understand it). Another member of the ANS spoke against including coins, but again, they were speaking on their own behalf. The difficulty comes in the fact that coins are not included in the statement of renewal of the existing agreement, but some argue for their inclusion and the commission could decide to include them whether Italy asks for them to be included or not,

 

While Russia may prohibit the export of coins (as does Turkey), that is much different from asking for a cultural property MOU. The cultural property agreements under UNESCO are much different from a country enacting and enforcing general import/export laws. I think it is illegal to export large quantities of minor US coins at present because their intrinsic value is greater than their face value. I think it is also illegal to melt them down. That doesn't mean we can't collect US coins, just as we could always collect gold coins even when it was illegal to hold gold in bulk form.

 

Again, read and educate yourself, communicate your beliefs to government commissions when the opportunity presents itself, but understand the complexity of the issues at hand. An informed opinion carries more weight.

 

 

Thank you for the link. it is really quite informative. I am not sure how complete is the transcript, but some of the arguments for inclusion of coins are pretty vague. One archeologist states that "when she finds a coin during her walks, it is “a cause for celebration.” She also indicated that “There may be millions of these little suckers, but they are still important.”" This could also be an argument for excluding coins form MoUs

 

Some arguments may seem valid: inclusion of MoUs stifles looting. Maybe it can reduce it, but, unless there is a ban all sale of coins older than a certain age, it cannot make a significant dent and only discriminates against foreign buyers of such coins.

 

It doesn't seem there will be other hearings on the subject before the decision is made, so maybe I am late to the party... I am just hoping that well articulated arguments of ANA attendees, and others opposed to inclusion of coins carry weight in CPAC decision making. I was also glad to read a comment from CPAC chairwoman that "broad import restrictions would be impossible to enforce"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not an ANA member so I'm not able to read article...

But looking at the whole idea it seems that someone as usuall tries to keep control on something..

In this case there will be always kind of a gap which will allow chosen institution/organization

to keep hands on flow of this kind of a goods - mean coins.

Of course I agree with the need of preservation what is unique and has value to one's country culture

but creating a barierr of this kind (everything older than 250 years) is stupid. Not everything as we know but rather small percentage and it will allways be a possibility to buy such things. The worst thing will be when those institution will be able to give "certificates" that you can export or import this good and of course those certificates will be given after some payment :-)

At the moment, as far as I know, we are moving (meanPoland) toward this sollution. For many years something older than 50 years was very valuable to the culture he,he.. so even stupid German pfennig from the IIWW was at the list !!! Now, as we joined EU and we have free flow of the goods within EU they noticed how stupid it is..so they are changing the law (or allready did it) and we can send coins after obtaining some kind of the document that it was bought in antiquary, numismatics or other kind of the shop able to give this certificate.. small step toward normality. In case you talk about looks someone goes oposite but probably to give such certificates ha,ha !!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The time for influencing this as a collector has passed anyway. MOU is not a bad thing. In fact the US zealously protects what it believes is its own heritage and historical items...you cannot even take an old bullet out of battle field park without being a criminal. If we wish our own artifacts and laws concerning them to be respected then it is just that we also respect the cultural property of other nations like Italy who has a very rich ancient heritage that is the target for all types and is shipped out all around the world all the time. At the moment, the current MOU is rather harmless and only protects what I think are the most valuable artifacts...if coins are added we do not know what coins will be added. There was A LOT of knee jerk reaction in the ancients community saying that Italy will demand back every coin ever sold or bought, even when found in other nations...and that the hobby of collecting coins will die out. There is simply no evidence this will be the case. Let hope they exercise some common sense as they have before and only look to protect the most rare and valuable historic pieces.

 

The MOU as it is when dealing with other antiquities is more often than not very specific as to what TYPES of pottery, what TYPES of sculpture, etc...that cannot be exported (without permission) and this would likely be the case with coins if they are added. In the end, it may just mean that anything that leave Italy that can be classified under the MOU be registered...this is not so bad either...just an opinion from a collector, not a guy who makes money on ancient coins. Lets also remember that if you go to a place like Vcoins, the vast majority of those coins have no provenance, something a lot of collector may welcome.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One can find coverage of the testimony of numismatists at this link. Check the links to other columns on the right. CPAC indicates the columns that cover the hearings. Some confusion about ANS might come from the fact that one person giving testimony (on their own behalf) is vice president of the AIA (supporting the inclusion of coins) and an ANS member (taking no stand as I understand it). Another member of the ANS spoke against including coins, but again, they were speaking on their own behalf. The difficulty comes in the fact that coins are not included in the statement of renewal of the existing agreement, but some argue for their inclusion and the commission could decide to include them whether Italy asks for them to be included or not,

 

While Russia may prohibit the export of coins (as does Turkey), that is much different from asking for a cultural property MOU. The cultural property agreements under UNESCO are much different from a country enacting and enforcing general import/export laws. I think it is illegal to export large quantities of minor US coins at present because their intrinsic value is greater than their face value. I think it is also illegal to melt them down. That doesn't mean we can't collect US coins, just as we could always collect gold coins even when it was illegal to hold gold in bulk form.

 

Again, read and educate yourself, communicate your beliefs to government commissions when the opportunity presents itself, but understand the complexity of the issues at hand. An informed opinion carries more weight.

 

Thanks for the link. Honestly, I'm annoyed by the academicians trying to keep EVERYTHING for themselves. 99% of these finds would not interest them at all. And if they have their way they would never be found. They could designate a few sites of interest, and keep people out of them, but it seems they want everything! Up to the point of banning the metal detectors.

 

While in England, because of the Treasure Act, a lot of interesting finds were unearthed by enthusiasts, and studied by archeologists - who would never have found them otherwise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In fact the US zealously protects what it believes is its own heritage and historical items...you cannot even take an old bullet out of battle field park without being a criminal.

 

But if my family owned a bullet since, say, the Civil War would I need permission to export it? If yes, how do I prove I didn't take it from a battlefield?

 

Let hope they exercise some common sense as they have before and only look to protect the most rare and valuable historic pieces.

 

I certainly hope so.

 

Thank you for your input Drusus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the link. Honestly, I'm annoyed by the academicians trying to keep EVERYTHING for themselves. 99% of these finds would not interest them at all. And if they have their way they would never be found. They could designate a few sites of interest, and keep people out of them, but it seems they want everything! Up to the point of banning the metal detectors.

 

While in England, because of the Treasure Act, a lot of interesting finds were unearthed by enthusiasts, and studied by archeologists - who would never have found them otherwise.

 

I am an archaeologist and a coin collector and therefore straddle both issues. I see this as a shade of grey and support many of the import restrictions and believe we should honor the laws of other nations. Looting is wrong. Period. Coins that are knowingly, looted, imported, or exported illegally should not be tolerated in the numismatic marketplace. There are difficulties in enforcing such an ethical stance, but it is possible and there are dealers who turn a blind eye to the reality of some coins. I had a problem with the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG) until they updated their ethics statement this Spring. Some archaeologists disagree with my position and oppose all dealings in ancient coins, but the ACCG addressed an issue making a distinction between coins entering the marketplace through legal channels and those with dubious origins. With the recent ACCG ethics changes, I support their opposition to the blanket inclusion of coins in cultural heritage MOUs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Forgive me if I spoke harshly. I did not mean to generalize, and was referring to some of the experts who testified at the hearing. Specifically:

"Brian Rose is the President of the AIA. The AIA has 8,000 professional members and 200,000 subscribers to its Magazine, Archaeology... He also believes that Italy should ban the use of metal detectors."

 

I think that's just extreme.

 

"Susan Alcock is an archaeologist associated with Brown University. Her specialty is the “systematic pedestrian survey,” that is “field walking” with an eye to trying to understand archaeology from an examination of surface finds. She indicated that when she finds a coin during her walks, it is “a cause for celebration.” "

 

Not sure why a person who is aware of the joy of finding artifacts (coins) is so eager to deny that experience to other people. What is the difference between her finding them, and private individuals? She can document her findings. But I am sure that metal detector enthusiasts would be thrilled to report their findings to local museums. They can always use help with identification, and museums can document their findings.

 

So the rhetorical question is - Why waste resources, and drive these people to crime, instead of harnessing good relations?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So the rhetorical question is - Why waste resources, and drive these people to crime, instead of harnessing good relations?

 

That's what they have been trying to do in England. They haven't eliminated looting, but they have some notable successes. The most recent is the hoard discussed in another thread here. The person who found it stopped what he was doing and alerted authorities when he realized it was a potential "treasure" find. Archaeologists recovered an intact hoard with over 50,000 coins and were able to excavate it using modern methods. The finder and landowner will share a hefty payday if the hoard eventually ends up in a museum (which I suspect it will). If it is not retained in a museum, they split the find. The person who found the haord has been participating in various aspects of the recovery, announcement to the press, etc. A great example of the power of cooperation between the professional archaeological community and the metal detecting community.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bill,

 

Thank you for the insightful post. I didn't realize that ANS may have not taken a stance against including coins.

 

Indeed, these are complex issues. However, there is a general consensus on this forum that Russian laws that prohibit export of coins older than 50 years are outdated and are designed to keep the vast bureaucracy busy. They do not benefit anyone, including Russian museums, Russian collectors, and advancement of numismatic research in general. I can also make a case that they take business away from Russian coins dealer community, and also promote corruption.

 

So as it comes to Russian coins I see no good reason for the US government to be supportive of such Russian laws through MoU under this Act. I will also say I don’t see many good reasons for the US government to support similar Italian laws as they pertain to coins (at least most common coins—and when I say that I do realize that everyone has s different definition of “common”)

 

There are clearly valid reasons to prohibit export of illegally obtained (looted, stolen, etc.) archeological artifacts that are culturally significant. It ludicrous to try to make a case that all coins fit that description--something that The Numismatist discusses in much better detail than I can here (although they don’t call such attempts ludicrous).

 

As Maya correctly pointed out above the US should respect foreign laws, but IMHO it should not be making an effort or spending resources to support them if they do not benefit anyone, or maybe even harm somebody.

 

Fortunately the present russian laws ALLOW to export coins older than 50 years and even 100 years with the permision issued by Rosohrankultura. And at least in some cases it is very easy and generally costs 100 roubles per item. It is hard to believe but it really works!

http://mkrf.ru/feedback/faq/detail.php?ID=67979

 

http://www.libex.ru/qna/export/exinstr/

 

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fortunately the present russian laws ALLOW to export coins older than 50 years and even 100 years with the permision issued by Rosohrankultura.

 

Is that really true? From the first link:

 

"*Со 2 марта 2009 г. вывоз гражданами и организациями современных произведений изобразительного и декоративно-прикладного искусства, сувенирной продукции, а также предметов детского творчества и быта, не подпадающих под действие Закона РФ «О вывозе и ввозе культурных ценностей», будет осуществляться по справкам, выданным Московской службой по сохранению культурных ценностей при Департаменте культуры города Москвы."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He also believes that Italy should ban the use of metal detectors."

 

I think that's just extreme.

 

What is the difference between her finding them, and private individuals? She can document her findings. But I am sure that metal detector enthusiasts would be thrilled to report their findings to local museums. They can always use help with identification, and museums can document their findings.

 

So the rhetorical question is - Why waste resources, and drive these people to crime, instead of harnessing good relations?

 

Well, it is a crime to use a metal detector in places in the US where valuable heritage artifacts might be found...places like battle field park (Chickamauga park) where there are signs as you go in forbidding metal detectors and declaring the use of them as a crime....this is true in many places considered to be a place where items might be found...again...even a bullet or just being found with a metal detector can get you arrested. Now if you were to take the criminal route and do so anyway then indeed they would have to prove you didnt have it from long ago or find it elsewhere...but local historical organizations protect these areas zealously. Also, Italy would not be the first nation to outlaw metal detectors all together if they were to do so...places like Serbia is jut one of a group of nations where roman coins are found in large numbers and shipped out for sale undocumented which does not allow metal detecting, it obviously does stop the nation from bleeding ancient coins, I see lots of hordes being sold that come from eastern europe. Is it extreme? Maybe...but the US does it as well so maybe if one lives in the US we should look at our own laws before judging others....I noticed a lot of the people up in arms about this have been US collectors who see their supply of ancient either drying up, or more likely becoming hard to come by. They browbeat nations like Italy for looking to restrict such things, all the while their own nation has highly restrictive laws regarding its own protected sites. We have many restrictions as to what can and cannot be done concerning our own historical items, native Indian artifacts and protected areas, why do we insist other nation cannot do the same? As it is, the US is a safety zone for all looted items...if you can make it here, in most cases you are home free!!

 

I am a collector of ancient coins so I certainly dont want to see an end to ancients on the market but I also acknowledge that if you do a search on Vcoins, the lions share of all ancients sold there are undocumented coins. Although I loath to pay more money for my ancients, I would if I could buy them with provenance. There are a lot of ancients, far more than any museum worldwide would ever need or display so there must be a middle ground...the problem is that both sides...archeology and collectors (seller of ancients) polarize (with some exceptions) and take extreme positions and refuse to even try to see both side, its sad really.

 

The Italian MOU as it stands isnt that terribly restrictive and I hope, in the end, it stays that way....but just saying 'you must report finds' doesn't cut it. Some will of course but others wont...they will, instead...send the coin directly to market. Both sides have legitimate concerns but they shoot themselves in the kneecaps when all they do is try to vilify the other side and never admit that both sides have legitimate concerns. The main concern for any nation (the US included) is to stop looting which is a major problem for those nation that site on ancient sites. I do not believe the UK has stopped looting simply because they ask people to report finds...again...some do and other never will, those ho do not comply and report finds that, by law, should be reported are criminals. Dealers and collector need to realize that unprovenanced coins may mean looted coins and archeologist must realize that calling all ancients collector accessories to looting isnt correct either. Until both sides come together to stop looting...it will never get better. There will always be looters but I think if there were cooperation instead of vilifying then we could all concentrate on the TRUE looters and criminals and those are not the weekend metal detectors, the casual collector or the dealer but these people must take steps to the middle as do archeologists and nations to make a true licit market or there will always be looting.

 

And no...archeologists are not entitled to all artifacts (though they certainly should be allowed to study what they need before it goes to market) and museums do not need to house all artifacts...most would probably admit that the lions share of coins found go into storage and are never seen again. So there IS room for a licit market...this is clear. Stop fighting and start working together.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...