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
A slapdash effort belies Cypriot claims that coins are significant to its heritage and that import restrictions will be applied only to coins first found in the ground in Cyprus.
During the Cyprus MOU signing ceremony http://accg.us/issues/news/a-significant-omission much was made about the supposed importance of coins to the cultural heritage of Cyprus. Earlier, at the CPAC hearing on the Cypriot request for import restrictions, Cypriot authorities also claimed that coins from Cypriot mints were “easily distinguishable” by mintmarks and “rarely” traveled from Cyprus. Accordingly, they asserted that import restrictions on coins would only be applied—as required under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act—to coins first found in the ground in Cyprus.
The recent posting of images of coins subject to restrictions on the State Department’s “International Cultural Property Protection” Website http://exchanges.state.gov/culprop/cyimagecomb.html raises serious questions about such claims. These images and descriptions—compiled by the Cypriot Department of Antiquities—contain some egregious errors and as well as some dangerously misleading entries. These include technical errors concerning weights of individual coins, an apparent misattribution of a Roman Provincial coin type to Cyprus that is usually associated with Antioch in the Roman Province of Syria, and --worst of all-- the implication that Customs can safely assume that any coins issued by Alexander the Great and his Successors from the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt were struck at Cypriot mints. And what of those “mint marks?” None are listed anywhere in the images or the accompanying descriptions.
The numismatic community has already demonstrated that the last claim—that Cypriot coins “rarely” traveled from the Island in antiquity—is false through the use of hoard evidence. See IAPN-PNG Supplemental PDF at http://accg.us/issues/news/iapn-png-oppose-cyprus-request-for-import-restrictions/?searchterm=Cyprus As such, the fact that neither the images nor the coin descriptions on the State Department web site contain a disclaimer that one cannot assume the find spot of a coin from its place of manufacture must also viewed as a serious omission.
If coins are as important to the Cypriot national heritage as has been claimed, one would think the Cypriot Department of Antiquities would be able to prepare a more accurate and less misleading document. Furthermore, if the “experts” at the Cypriot Department of Antiquities and the State Department’s Cultural Heritage Center cannot be trusted to create such a document, how can anyone seriously believe that U.S. Customs will be able to apply such restrictions fairly to the small businesses of the numismatic trade and collectors?
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