Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Scare Tactics and Misinformation

Scare tactics and misinformation seem to be the norm these days in discussion groups all over. A few of my favorite tidbits:

"The Untied States government is about to decide whether cultural property of Italian origin should be restricted from entry into the U.S. unless accompanied by Italian export permits." (

This is false! The will be subject to the same restrictions outlined in the CPIA. You need EITHER an export permit from that country OR proof that the item was out of the country before the date of the restriction.

NOW!!!!" (Dave Welsh)(

Really?? Does anyone other than him actually believe this?? Adding coins to the existing MOU will end coin collecting? The MOU has already been in effect covering other antiquities for a while now, there hasn't been an end to the trade in any other antiquity. This is just a scare tactic to prompt coin collectors who can't be bothered to research what is really going on to quickly send a fax in support of the ACCG.


The only things being banned are coins that either don't have an export permit or can't be proven to be out of Italy before the date the restriction takes effect(and that date hasn't even come yet!)

"Unless you can prove your coins were exported from Italy before 1970 or you have an export permit from the Italian government, your coins could be confiscated and "returned" to Italy."(In an email from Forum Ancient Coins that has circulated the internet)

False again, you would have to prove that the coins were exported from Italy before the date of the restriction.

"We must tell our government that we should not be denied the opportunity to buy ancient coins just because we are American. We must tell our government that our children should not be deprived of learning the learning experience ancient coins provide just because they are American." (Same email from Forum Ancient Coins)

We're not being deprived of anything "because we're American". America does happen to have one of the largest collecting communities, so why wouldn't it be logical for Italy to ask us to help protect their cultural heritage from looting by imposing import restrictions on undocumented items entering our borders?

Thankfully not everyone is buying the hype. Here are 2 comments left by someone on Forum Ancient Coins:

"Now, the argument for import restrictions is precisely that they might help prevent looting by making illegally dug coins and similar portable antiquities much harder to sell. It’s meant to discourage the bad guys. It’s not some vindictive attack on coin collectors nor is it a devious government plot to take away our liberties." (Bill R. Forum Ancient coins)

"Thanks, Alfred, for posting the Sayles blog extract, though I have to say I found it very strange. The idea that there is some vast conspiracy involving the academic archaeological community and ‘nationalist governments’ (whatever they are) is, frankly, bizarre."(Bill R. Forum Ancient Coins)

He was subsequently chastised by the owner of the group, Joseph Sermarini:

"The idea of banning the import of Roman coins into America while continuing to permit trade within the EU is bizarre and anti-American. The restrictions don't apply to the UK. You don't live in America, so the restrictions don't apply to you. We are not discussing banning imports to the UK. You are under the mistaken impression that this is an appropriate place for discussion and debate of this issue. You are under the mistaken impression that it is OK for you, who does not live in the U.S., to express your support here for this bizarre MOU, which does not impact you. It is not." (Joseph Sermarini- owner Forum Ancient Coins)

So much for the open discussion that coin dealers and collectors are always complaining they wish would happen. And if it doesn't impact anyone except those in the US so they are not allowed to express their thoughts, why in the world are members of the ACCG asking everyone from every country to voice their opinion the the US State Dept?

I urge collectors everywhere to do their own research into what the MOU on cultural property with Italy (or any other country) really means and make an informed decision.

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