Preserving our freedom to collect


The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild has become a driving force in the ongoing effort to protect coin collectors and museums in which coins are stored from being forced to give up these items to foreign governments under the premise the coins are the cultural patrimony of the claimant nation. — Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News April 26, 2010



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ACCG, IAPN and ANA Comment at CPAC

Numismatics at CPAC

By Wayne Sayles |
April 08, 2015

Three numismatic organizations were represented in person at the Cultural Property Advisory Committee hearing at the State Department in Washington DC April 8th.   The hearing sought public comment on a potential renewal of the existing Memorandum of Understanding with Italy.  The International Association of Professional Numismatists was represented by attorney Peter Tompa and the American Numismatic Association was represented by Doug Mudd, Curator of the ANA Museum.  The ACCG was represented by Wayne Sayles, Executive Director.  The Committee had many questions for the numismatists and the outcome was an informative exchange of views.  The ACCG's live comments at this hearing are included below.  The formal written comments of ACCG were submitted to the website last month.


Madam Chair and distinguished committee members,

The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild was founded as a non-profit organization in 2004.  Since then, I've appeared eight times before this committee to comment on potential import restrictions.  The guild and its 22 Affiliate Member clubs represent the interests of doctors, lawyers, educators, clergy, politicians and members of countless trades and walks of life.  Even some archaeologists.  U.S. import restrictions on ancient coins that are legally traded elsewhere around the globe negatively impact many thousands of American citizens and hundreds of businesses.  The private collecting of ancient coins is a venerable activity with an associated trade dating back more than 600 years and enabling a remarkable tradition of independent scholarship.  It remains, today, a legitimate and honorable pursuit that serves society well and is therefore protected under law.  For tactile learners at all levels, there is no stronger connection to the past than the holding in one's hand of an authentic ancient coin—common though it might be.  Even in Italy, ancient coin collectors and dealers abound—collecting and trading in coins that are on the MOU designated list here.  Italy has no import restrictions on ancient coins.  

Ironically, yellow journalism has portrayed private collecting in a totally different light.  Spurious articles characterizing collectors as "the real looters" are classic illustrations of the Big Lie.  In a recent NY Times article, archaeologist and Getty Museum director Timothy Potts acknowledged that "It has become an article of faith that any form of trade in cultural items is bad."  He was of course describing an institutional ideology, not a public condemnation nor tenet of law.  We are a nation governed by law. Subjective articles of faith and ethics are not precepts of law and therefore are not relevant to the deliberations of this committee.   We petition this committee to honor the wishes of the People and use law, rather than emotion, as a guide to your deliberations.  

We're all here, despite our differences, because of one cultural property law.  It's a fair, well-thought-out law and we in the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild stand by it. In addition to protecting significant cultural objects and heritage, the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act very clearly recognizes and protects the trade in utilitarian artifacts like coins.  It protects what we call orphaned artifacts that have circulated in international trade, often for centuries, without any requirement or need for recorded provenance.  The law only allows import restrictions on objects that were "first discovered within" and "subject to export control" of a State Party with whom an MOU might be negotiated.  Another of the protections under this law is the formation of this very committee to represent the interests of all affected parties and to advise on issues that are germane to the law's purpose and implementation.  

We all deplore and condemn illicit trade and must cooperate with just and concerted international enforcement to combat that scourge. The Cultural Property law was written for all of us and we all need to follow it.  We will and I hope you will, by following that law and exempting common coins from any renewal of this MOU.  

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