Saturday, May 16, 2009

German Coin Collections Seized

Although I don't collect coins, I have read a lot of coin collectors' blogs lately, and there is a post to a blog here that I would like to comment on.

This post is regarding the recent raids on German coin collectors and the seizing of some collections, written by a coin collector from Wisconsin.

the *one thing* coin collectors need to stand united against is any intrusion by government to meddle in something that isn't worthy of government involvement. Coin collecting is certainly one of those things. When the government get's involved in harmless, innocent pastimes like people's hobbies - where does the government stop?

Apparently it is worth government involvement, since the coin collectors seem to think they should be exempt from cultural property laws. Do the coin collectors ever stop to think that the government wouldn't have seized those collections if they'd had proper documentation of those coins being legally excavated, exported, and purchased? For some reason that escapes me, coin collectors in general seem to think that their items don't need any proof of legal acquisition. They don't seem to think they should be bound by the same laws as any other antiquities collector.

This is where the rubber hits the road for collectors. Do I want the government to suddenly be involved with and regulating my hobby at every turn or worse, do I want my hobby to turn into a criminal activity overnight?

Unfortunately the collectors have brought this on themselves. If they had used due diligence in buying their items, and made sure they had all the proper paperwork, they would have nothing to worry about.

Collecting, especially of medieval and ancient coins, has been accused as a criminal act; under the unjustifiable accusation that collecting is the result and cause of the illegal looting of archaeological sites around the world.

The criminal act is not collecting. It is the clandestine digging of artifacts, not reporting them where required by law, and exporting them without permits. When the collectors buy items without asking the pertinent questions, they run the risk of buying what is essentially stolen property, and as such it is subject to confiscation. Why do coin collectors think they shouldn't have to follow the same laws as everyone else?

Collecting is not the cause of looting, but no-questions-asked buying certainly contributes to it. Who do you think the looters sell to? Collectors and dealers that are willing to buy without asking where it came from and how it was obtained.

If you collect responsibly, you have nothing to worry about in regards to government involvement. You will already have all the proper paperwork on your items to show that they are perfectly legal, and you'll have the added comfort of knowing that you are not contributing to the destruction of the historical record by possibly buying recently looted items.

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