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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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State Department announces Bulgaria MOU provisions

MOU with Bulgaria signed

By Wayne G. Sayles |
January 15, 2014

Effective January 15, 2014, the U.S. State Department has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bulgaria that provides for U.S. import restrictions on a broad range of cultural property more than 250 years old.  The designated list of items includes virtually all coins produced in Bulgaria during antiquity except for coins from Roman Imperial mints.  The list also includes the bizarre category of "Greek coins from nearby regions that are found in Bulgaria".  It will be interesting to see how the Department of Homeland Security decides whether such a coin arriving at a U.S. port falls under the MOU with Greece or under the MOU with Bulgaria.  If seized, which country should the coin be returned to?  Following the above statement's logic, all ancient coins found outside their source country should be governed by the laws of the country where they are found.  That, in fact, is what the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act mandates.  In practice, U.S. administrations have deviated from provisions of that law by applying restrictions to place of origin rather than place of discovery.  This Cultural Property Nationalist view has led and will further lead to inestimable hardship and financial loss to private collectors and the numismatic trade.  Sadly, this misguided illogic also forms a barrier to the understanding and international harmony that is fostered by the private collecting of minor artifacts from distant lands and cultures.

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