ACCG Opposes China Request
The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild will formally oppose the pending request from the People's Republic of China for import restrictions on coins from antiquity to the 20th century. Individuals are invited to join this opposition by using the free Fax Wizard on this page. Just click on the picture of the U.S. Capitol.
January 28, 2005
Below is a copy of the ACCG press release that was sent to the numismatic press:
On September 3, 2004, the U.S. Department of State entered into the Federal Register a "Notice of Receipt of Cultural Property Request from the Government of the People's Republic of China." In this request, China has petitioned the government of the United States to restrict the importation of antiquities under Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention. The U.S. law that covers this request is the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (19 USC 2600, Chapter 14). The request was prompted by a concern that China's cultural heritage is in jeopardy from pillage. It seeks U.S. import restrictions on a wide range of Chinese archaeological material, specifically including coins from antiquity to the 20th century. A public summary of the China Request is posted on the Department of State web site at http://exchanges.state.gov/culprop/cn04sum.html
Requests of this type are considered by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC), which advises the President. CPAC will convene for a hearing on the China request February 17 and 18, 2005. Public comment is invited at this hearing and the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG) will be presenting arguments to CPAC that coins, regardless of age, should not be treated in the same manner as significant items of cultural heritage. That is, they should be exempted from any import restrictions that might be deemed appropriate by the U. S. Government. The ACCG, a non-profit advocacy group for collectors, was formed to promote the free and independent collecting of coins from antiquity. The stated goal of the guild is to foster an environment in which the general public can confidently and legally acquire and hold any numismatic item of historical interest regardless of date or place of origin. On its web site at http://accg.us the ACCG offers a free fax service through which concerned collectors can voice their opinions to the Chairman of CPAC. "The Fax Wizard is free and easy to use. It includes sample letters and takes only minutes of your time. Just click on the picture of the U.S. Capitol." said Wayne G. Sayles, Executive Director of the ACCG. For those without online access, personal letters may be sent to Mr. Jay I. Kislak, Chairman, Cultural Property Advisory Committee, United States Department of State, 301 4th St., SW, Room 334, Washington, DC 20547. Fax: (202) 260-4893
"Coin collectors deplore archaeological site looting, and are in complete sympathy with the need to preserve the heritage of all cultures," said Sayles. "However, It is our contention that the private collecting of ancient coins, Chinese or otherwise, does not encourage the sort of problems that this request seeks to address. Restrictions on the importation of coins into the United States would do nothing to reduce theft and pillage at archaeological sites." According to Sayles, most coins of any real value to collectors come from hoards, not from archaeological strata. Lacking banks and secure storage, wealth was typically accumulated in the form of precious metal (coins) and was buried in an obscure location. Rarely are such hoards found in places that archaeologists choose to excavate. Site looters are not driven by the expectation of finding coins, but rather of finding larger items of significant value.
Collectors would argue further that coins, from their beginning, were designed for international commerce. Given the movement of coins in ancient times and among dealers and collectors in recent centuries, it is virtually impossible to tell where most pieces were found. Ancient Chinese coins have been found in huge numbers outside of the borders of that country and countless numbers have resided in private collections around the world for several hundred years. Since Customs officials would be unable to determine the provenance of any given specimen, there is serious concern among the collecting community that arbitrary detentions could become commonplace and the burden of proof would shift to the individual. It would be as difficult for a collector to prove that a coin was not covered by the restriction as it would be for U.S. Customs to prove that it was. Consequently, detention would in essence amount to confiscation.
A restriction on the importation of coins into the United States would create a severe hardship for the legitimate commercial trade. It would deprive collectors of a pleasing and harmless pursuit and would also hurt museums, which play an invaluable role in educating the public to ancient history and life in ancient times. Individuals who have an interest in collecting the coinage of China and/or wish to support this ACCG effort to oppose import restrictions may contact the Executive Director, Wayne G. Sayles, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 417-679-2142. Further information about the guild is available at http://accg.us
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