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
Paul Davies, president of the International Association of Professional Numismatists, commented on the joint ACCG/IAPN/PNG law suit in a letter to Cyprus Mail editor Kosta Pavlowitch.
I am writing on behalf of the International Association of Professional Numismatists (“IAPN”) with respect to a story entitled “Coin Collectors Furious over Trade Restrictions.” IAPN is one of the plaintiffs in the case against the U.S. State Department mentioned in the article. I hope this letter will provide your readers with additional background with regard to the lawsuit.
IAPN was founded in the aftermath of the Second World War to promote trade and fellowship amongst professional numismatists from countries that had so recently been at war. IAPN members believe that the interchange of cultural materials, among individuals and nations, has contributed throughout history to the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of human civilization. Today, IAPN has more than 114 member firms situated in all five continents and twenty-three countries.
IAPN, like the other plaintiffs, opposes looting of archaeological sites and supports Cyprus’ own self-help measures to protect its cultural patrimony. IAPN would, however, propose that such efforts be directed specifically at protecting archaeological sites and that Cyprus should investigate successful programmes like the British Treasure Trove and Portable Antiquities Scheme to ensure that archaeological artifacts found by members of the general public outside of archaeological sites are properly recorded.
The restrictions in question are controversial because their provenance requirements may very well make it impractical to legally import ancient coins of Cypriot type into the United States even though such coins are regularly found outside of Cyprus and many have resided in collections abroad for years. Thus, while American IAPN members, American collectors and American museums will likely be precluded from legally importing ancient coins of Cypriot type into the USA, collectors within the European Union (including Cypriot collectors and the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation Museum) will continue to be free to import such coins into their own countries without any showing of provenance.
Given the effect of the restrictions, IAPN and the other plaintiffs need some assurance that the U.S. State Department acted properly before imposing them. Unfortunately, IAPN and others suspect the State Department may very well have imposed the restrictions against the advice of its own experts on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee and without the proper approvals from those in authority. All other efforts to learn more about the decision from the State Department have failed. As a result, IAPN and the other plaintiffs were forced to turn to the Courts as a last resort to gain meaningful information about the decision. We hope that Cyprus Mail readers will sympathize with such efforts. Public acceptance of the decision amongst collectors and the small businesses of the numismatic trade within the United States will certainly depend on it.
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