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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FOIA suit is widely covered in national media

The Freedom of Information Act law suit filed against the U.S. State Department by ACCG, IAPN and PNG has elicited a strong positive response from many in the hobby and even support from some unsuspected sources. The wide coverage of this issue in national media is a welcome outcome.

December 03, 2007

Ancient Coin Collectors and Dealers have widely applauded the ACCG initiative that challenges a State Department shroud of secrecy head on. That is not really too surprising, but the action has drawn comment from outside of the hobby as well, and some of it has been remarkably positive.

The NY Times article by Jeremy Kahn, published on Nov. 17, 2007, presents a well balanced overview of the issue and the expectations of the plaintiffs. Mr. Kahn points out that "If the coin collectors were to prevail, the State Department might be compelled to shed more light on the way it makes decisions on protecting the cultural property of other nations, a process that many art dealers, museum directors and collectors argue has been unnecessarily shrouded in secrecy."

Richard Lacayo, a columnist for Time Magazine commented on the Time Blog about the suit, saying "This is a suit that American museum professionals who have anything to do with ancient art, not just coins, will be watching closely. They've been unhappy for a long time with the willingness — sometimes it looks to them like the eagerness — of the U.S. government to side with nations that claim almost all antiquities found on their soil as part of their "cultural heritage" and that ask the State Department to ban all import of that material."

Lee Rosenbaum, who refers to herself as a Culture Journalist, publishes the blog "Culture Grrl" sponsored by Arts She has written frequently for the Wall Street Journal and for the NY Times. Rosenbaum writes: "Whether you side with some archaeologists and scholars who believe that the U.S. State Department's Cultural Property Advisory Committee is admirably safeguarding the cultural heritage of foreign countries, or you agree with some dealers, collectors and museums who feel that CPAC inappropriately rubber stamps source countries' excessively retentionist requests, you ought to buy into the argument set forth in a lawsuit just filed in U.S. District Court by a group of numismatists---that CPAC's deliberations and decisions should, under federal Sunshine and Freedom of Information laws, be publicly disclosed."

Shawn Zeller, reporting on the suit in Congressional Quarterly, wrote "...a growing number of archeologists and foreign governments — Cyprus among them — have pushed to use the law to restrict the international traffic in all cultural treasures, no matter how mundane their original use." He also touched on a core issue to collectors, "In addition to erecting an artificial trade barrier with the provenance demand, the ruling unfairly singles out collectors as potential bad actors, the plaintiffs say. 'It switches the burden of proof from a presumption of innocence to a presumption of guilt,' says Wayne G. Sayles, executive director of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild."

Rob Hotakainen, a Washington bureau reporter for the McClatchy Newspapers, highlighted the law suit as small enterprise challenging big government and labeling it a "David versus Goliath" battle. Hotakainen quotes Senator Kit Bond of Missouri (a recipient of the ACCG "Friend of Numismatics" award) as saying "Federal agencies and advisory committees need to follow federal sunshine laws, and it would be disappointing if a lawsuit is required to make them do so."

The news of this lawsuit has been covered on more than 100 major news feeds nationwide. Action on the suit will be posted on the ACCG site as events develop.
Meanwhile, the ACCG is launching a campaign to solicit donations for the funding of this and anticipated future legal actions. Donations in any amount can be made through the Paypal link at the bottom of the site's front page or by mailing payment by personal check or money order to ACCG, P.O. Box 911, Gainesville, MO 65655

state department
wayne g. sayles

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