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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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IAPN Questions State Department actions

Following is an official statement provided by the International Association of Professional Numismatists concerning Imposition of Import Restrictions by the U.S. on Coins of Cypriot Origin.

July 30, 2007

The United States Department of State's inclusion of coins on a list of Cypriot items subject to import restrictions is unprecedented in both methodology and scope and should be a cause for great concern, according to a statement by the International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN). The restrictions, which were posted in the Federal Register on July 13, surprised observers, particularly since the IAPN had been initially assured by a senior State Department official that coins would not be included in a review of the five-year old Memorandum of Understanding with Cyprus on restricted archaeological items.


“This is disturbing for a number of reasons,” said IAPN's President Paul Davies. “Its broadness in scope, in fact, makes it both unworkable and in all likelihood, unenforceable. Anyone with even the most limited knowledge of ancient numismatics knows that over the centuries, coins of Cypriot origin have been unearthed in many locales off the island. Practical matters aside,” Davies continued, “we are equally troubled by the lack of transparency in the State Department's handling of this issue and in its apparent flaunting of long established precedents and procedures.”

The State Department's Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) has been steadfast and consistent over the years in rejecting the inclusion of coins in requests from other countries including Cyprus five years ago and Italy (twice). As a result, there is a reason to question whether the decision reached by CPAC in the aftermath of its January 2007 meeting on that subject was followed or ignored. The IAPN is also concerned that the late and irregular inclusion of coins is strictly a matter of politics trumping correct policy and procedure. The organization notes that one of the members of CPAC, with strong ties to the academic archaeological community has close ties to the government of Cyprus by virtue of a long history of conducting excavations on the island. Despite the fact that this person is beholden to Cypriot government authorities for the license required, the State Department rejected IAPN's request for his/her recusal on grounds of conflict of interest.

An IAPN spokesperson further questioned whether the conduct of certain State Department civil servants is also a matter which needs to be addressed. Nearly every request made by the Association has been met by stonewalling and obfuscation. It has rejected requests to provide original communication in their original language, denied requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act, and has consistently and indisputably displayed a clear and obvious favorable bias towards members of the archaeological community compounded by a scarcely disguised enmity for collectors and the trade. These concerns have most recently been covered in an April 8, 2007 New York Times Article by Jeremy Kahn, entitled, "Is the U.S. Protecting Foreign Artifacts? Don’t Ask.” (available at: http://tinyurl.com/2srznz .)
Every member of the IAPN agrees to abide by the Association's Code of Ethics which includes the following statement:

“The interchange of cultural materials, among individuals and among nations, has contributed throughout history to the knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of human civilization. Members of the trade in cultural materials – numismatic and otherwise – play a key role in the dissemination of culture and the distribution of cultural objects to public and private collectors. While engaging in this trade, numismatists who join the IAPN also undertake corresponding responsibilities. They dedicate themselves to protect and preserve our numismatic heritage, to foster a healthy numismatic marketplace governed by strict ethical standards, to promote scientific research and greater public knowledge of numismatics, and to encourage fellowship among numismatists of all nations. In support of these goals, members pledge to conduct themselves as follows:

To guarantee that good title accompanies all items sold, and never knowingly to deal in any numismatic item that has been illegally removed from an official excavation site or stolen from a public or private collection.

To describe numismatic items accurately, and to refrain from any misrepresentation of origin, date, condition, provenance, pedigree, or value.”

The IAPN is a nonprofit organization of the leading international numismatic firms founded in 1951. The objectives of IAPN are the development of a healthy and prosperous numismatic trade conducted according to the highest standards of business ethics and commercial practice, the encouragement of scientific research and the propagation of numismatics, and the creation of lasting and friendly relations amongst professional numismatists around the world. The IAPN has 114 member firms in twenty-two countries, including thirty-one in the United States. More about the IAPN may be found on the Internet at http://www.iapn-coins.org or by contacting it at 14, rue de la Bourse, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium, E-mail: iapnsecret@compuserve.com.

Tags:
state department
cyprus
cpac
ethics
paul davies
import restrictions
iapn

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