Saturday, November 29, 2008

Call for Papers Extended for the 2009 International Numismatic Congress in Glasgow, Grants Also Available

Last time I checked the Call for Papers for the 2009 International Numismatic Congress in Glasgow it extended only until September or October 2008. However, this morning I checked the Congress' website and saw that the deadline has been extend until January 31, 2009. This is welcome news for anyone who has an abstract they would still like to submit. The committee has been evaluating abstracts on a rolling basis responding to submissions in the following month.

The website states: "In order to help younger scholars who may wish to apply for the INC grants the deadline for offering a paper has been extended until 31st January 2009." A new section on the website lists grants that are being offered by the International Numismatic Commission, Numismatische Kommission der Länder in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, and the Deutsche Numismatische Gesellschaft. The grants offered by the International Numismatic Commission and the Deutsche Numismatische Gesellschaft appear to be the most appropriate for those presenting research on ancient numismatics.

The international Numismatic Commission will be awarding 40 grants to younger scholars in the amount of 600 Euro each to attend the Congress. Further information is to be posted on the Commission's website in coming days.

The Deutsche Numismatische Gesellschaft is offering two grants in the amount of 500 Euro each. Those who may apply include: "Coin collectors at an advanced stage, students of numismatics and doctoral candidates whose PhD theses focus on numismatics are eligible. The following areas of specialization are desirable: ancient numismatics, German history of coins and money and German medals. The age of applicants is limited to 35 years."

The International Numismatic Congress will be held from 31 August 2009 to 4 September 2009 in Glasgow. The last International Numismatic Congress was held in 2003 in Madrid.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recording Wear and Corrosion on Ancient Coin Finds

In searching coin reports from excavations one can find analyses and lists of highly varied quality. Much of this, of course, can depend on the academic tradition from which the numismatist comes. In worst case scenarios, a "coin report" may not even have a list of the coins and may only provide a vague summary of types and rulers represented. In addition to a detailed analysis of the overall series from a site, and also of coins in stratified contexts, the most useful coin reports will present the numismatic data in a complete and detailed manner through a list or catalogue. These lists should include reference numbers or a description of the coin if an exact reference cannot be provided, dates/date range, die axes, diameter, weight, etc. One aspect of coin finds that is often overlooked, however, is wear and corrosion.

Recently, Kris Lockyear commented on the need for more standardization in the publication of coin lists from archaeological sites, citing the basic elements that should be included in an average coin list (K. Lockyear, "Where Do We Go Frome Here? Recording and Analysing Roman Coins from Archaeological Excavations. Britannia 38 (2007), 211-224). One of his proposals was to begin an international database for the cataloguing of coin finds which would necessitate certain types of information to be entered. Some regional and national databases and corpus-making projects have been underway for sometime. Apart from the basic information listed above, one of the desirable things on a coin list he mentioned is a measure of the wear and corrosion present on individual coin finds. Some of the things that wear may inform field numismatists about is the individual lives and circulation of coins.

In 1976 Alan Walker commented on the value of studying wear and corrosion on coin finds (A. Walker, "Worn and Corroded Coins: Their Importance for the Archaeologist," Journal of Field Archaeology 3.3 (1976), 329-334). He detailed the need to pay close attention to corrosion on a coin. Although a coin may be nearly unidentifiable because of corrosion, one may still be able to glean some information from it; even coins that are heavily corroded could exhibit few signs of wear. He then surveyed the value of studying wear on coins, which is useful for establishing the chronological sequences of coins that are not dated - an important aspect of Greek coin hoard studies. Wear patterns on coins also provide insight into the duration of time in which they were in circulation and can also be used to examine external issues such as coinage reforms, demonitization, etc. He lists some examples where the study of wear on coin finds proves essential for the understanding of site or the coins themselves. He concludes:
"In order to obtain all the information that numismatic material can supply, archaeologists must be aware of the ramifications of wear and corrosion. The examples cited above show that even exceedingly worn or corroded coins may have a real significance: they can either give a precise date for their contextual assembly or illuminate the economic and political circumstances of their period of deposition."
Certainly, as Lockyear, Walker, and others have pointed out, wear and corrosion deserve more attention in contextual studies and the analyses in excavation reports.

The market already has a general method of "grading" coins in terms of general "eye-appeal" which may be affected by wear and corrosion. The grading of ancient coins is naturally much more arbitrary than grading modern coinage, for which there are entire firms are devoted grading, certifying, and "slabbing" coins in plastic containers. In recent years there has been some demand for slabbed and professionally graded ancient coins and a new venture devoted to the slabbing of ancient coins has recently been a hot topic in online ancient coin collecting boards. Nevertheless, the relatively loose grading systems used in the ancient coin market cannot be applied well to excavation finds where one is more interested in technical aspects than aesthetic concerns. Additionally, market grading systems do not differentiate well between measuring wear and corrosion.

Recognizing the need for a system for coin finds, one was devised and published in 1995 (S. Frey-Kupper, O.F. Dubuis, and H. Brem, "Usure et corrosion. Tables de référence pour la détermination de trouvailles monétaires / Abnutzung und Korrosion. Bestimmungstafeln zur Bearbeitung von Fundmünzen," Inventar der Fundmünzen der Schweiz 2, supplement (1995) (I could only find the French text available online). The text of the guide is in both French and German.

The guide provides a system for gauging corrosion and wear on both sides of a coin using a numbering scale from 0-5:

Wear (W). In German, Abnutzung (A); in French, Usure (U)
W 0 uncertain
W 1 very slightly worn
W 2 lightly worn
W 3 worn
W 4 very worn
W 5 extremely worn to completely worn (flat)

Corrosion (C). In German, Korrosion (K), in French, Corrosion (C)
C 0 uncertain
C 1 very slightly corroded
C 2 lightly corroded
C 3 corroded
C 4 very corroded
C 5 extremely to completely corroded

"0" is used if for some reason one aspect is completely indeterminate, e.g. a coin is so badly corroded (C 5) that one cannot determine how worn it is (W 0). A coin find report using this system might thus include a set of numbers such as W 1/2, C 3/3 in order to relay information about wear and corrosion. Numbers on both side of the slash refer to obverse and reverse respectively. In French or German the abbreviations would of course be different. I first became aware of this system when I began working with Fundmünzen der Antike in Frankfurt, which has implemented the system on new entries to its finds database. Although I did not use the system when I began identifying and analyzing the coin finds from Yotvata, I did use it for the last couple of seasons of coins after I learned about it.

It seems to me that the use of this system in coin lists is rather efficient and exacting, but still compact enough to incorporate into a coin list. The system has been accepted in a number of find publications on the continent, but I am not aware of its use in the English/American scholarship or coin find publications. If any readers are familiar with it, have comments on it, or have incorporated it into their work, I would enjoy hearing from you here or privately.

Certainly we are in need of preserving as much detailed information about archaeologically recovered coins as possible and we ought to make as much of that information available as possible for future comparative research. The study of wear patterns on ancient coin finds ought to provide further insight in future studies and is an area of Fundnumismatik with little detailed exploration at present. In my opinion, these guidelines seem to be a good way of enhancing our corpus. Feedback welcome.

Updated 28 November 2008: After discovering the French version of the corrosion/wear guide was available online, a link was inserted above.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Leisurely Blogging, Laggardly Thinking

I have sometimes commented on the tenor of the "debate" between archaeologists/preservationists and their opponents, some of the most vocal of which are portable antiquities dealers.

While archaeologists have sought to shed light on the relationship between the demands of indiscriminate trade activities and systematic looting through empirical studies and research, naysayers - with some exceptions - have a tendency to respond simply with vague ideological premises, deceptive factoids, or even derisive personal attacks.

I and others have made observations before on the role of disinformation and personal attacks coming from certain members of the trade lobby:
Neil Brodie has commented on various deceptions and tactics used by such individuals before in his 2006 essay "Smoke and Mirrors," in E. Robson, L. Treadwell, and C. Gosden (eds.), Who Owns Objects? Oxford: Oxbow. 1-14. Brodie interprets such obfuscatory tactics as attempts to undermine any solution to the looting problem so that the status quo remains and all antiquities can be traded freely with little concern for law or ethics.

In recent years many archaeologists, preservationists, and government officials have been personally targeted by certain leaders of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG), a lobby which opposes anything but a free-market in ancient coins and actively combats legislative measures designed to protect archaeological and cultural heritage when the unfettered trade in ancient coins might be hindered as a result of protective legislation. Among those that consistently have been the object of personal attacks launched by the ACCG's leaders is Maria Koroupas, the Executive Director of the U.S. State Department's Cultural Property Advisory Committee.

Maria Kouroupas has been vituperated by ACCG leaders a number of times since Cyprus' request for the inclusion of certain ancient coins of Cypriot type in the bilateral agreement on import restrictions was implemented in 2007, an event which angered ancient coin dealers in the U.S. Some of these dealers allege she worked in the shadows to undermine the "interests of collectors." Some of the most venomous attacks made against her include D. Welsh, "Stealth Unidroit: The State Department's War Against Collecting," Ancient Coins, 1 August 2007 and D. Welsh, "Maria's Fingerprints," Ancient Coins, 10 August 2007. In the latter Welsh quoted the late Steven Vincent, a journalist who was sympathetic to the American collector and dealer lobby, in calling Maria Kouroupas the "devil incarnate" to collectors and dealers. Dave Welsh is the chair of the ACCG's International Affairs Committee and an ancient coin dealer.

Today I read a post entitled "Leisure" on Wayne Sayles' blog. Sayles is the Executive Director and founder of the ACCG and also a long-time dealer in ancient coins. In the latest posting, "Leisure," Sayles directs vitriol again towards Maria Kouroupas:
"I just couldn't resist passing this one on. Condé Nast lists "Top Executive" profiles on their website and among the elite profiled there one will find Maria Kouroupas, Executive Director, Cultural Property Advisory Committee, Washington, DC. Condé Nast lists the Industry of Ms. Kouroupas as "Leisure".


Apparently Sayles finds amusement or irony in the fact that a website aggregating information on various executives lists Kouroupas' industry as "leisure." Had he done some more research on the site he might have also found that Phillipe de Montebello, who many dealers and collectors would no doubt count as an "ally," is also classified under the industry label of "leisure."

Jane Waldbaum, the former president of the Archaeological Institute of America, is recorded as being in the "professional services" industry.

Eric McFadden of the North American ancient coin auction house, CNG, is listed as a retailer. Robert and Tory Freeman and David R. Sear of the auction house Freeman & Sear are also listed as working in "retail."'s industry headings are certainly limited and inaccurate. It would appear anyone involved with cultural affairs is filed under "leisure" - I guess there is no "culture" industry. The label provides for the operators of CNG and Freeman & Sear would seem to imply their work relates to slapping stickers on cans of vegetables, but I am well aware their work goes well beyond that sort of activity. To say the least, the descriptions of "industries" covered by this online list are narrow and imprecise.

Mr. Sayles merely took the opportunity to launch another gratuitous and baseless insult. Is not such behavior rather childish and unbecoming of someone of certain age and alleged repute, and especially of one who is supposed to be the leading representative of ancient coin collector and dealer interests - the ACCG's Executive Director - an office which one might expect to necessitate a certain level of dignity and decorum?

Although I fully expect this critique to be countered with a further caustic personal attack on me, I ask once again: where is the erudition, intellectualism, and moderation in the discussion of these issues? Is the "other side" able to offer more than chicanery and insults? I know there are some out there who want to go beyond that, so why can we not discuss the issues in an adult manner?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Numismatics and Archaeology at the AIA

The joint 110th Annual Meeting of the AIA and 140th Annual Meeting of the APA will take place in Philadelphia from January 8-11, 2009. As usual, there are numismatically themed lectures and sessions.

Intensive study of coin finds in archaeological contexts and the application of cultural anthropological theories to numismatics are among important methodologies being developed and advanced in numismatics and archaeology. As I have stated before, much of the literature and research from this perspective has been applied by Germanic and Northern European scholars, isolating it somewhat from American and British schools of research. There are, of course, some individual exceptions with scholars like Kris Lockyear at University College London. One attempt at exposing these new approaches to a wider audience is the forthcoming volume I have mentioned before, which primarily contains methodological essays written in English:

H.-M. von Kaenel and F. Kemmers (eds.). 2008 forthcoming. Coins in Context I: New Approaches in Interpreting Coin Finds. Studien zu Fundmünzen der Antike 23. (Mainz: von Zabern).
I and my colleague, Stefan Krmnicek, organized a panel with similar goals which will take place at the 2009 AIA meeting. A number of speakers in our session also contributed to the forthcoming volume.

The preliminary program for our session has now been posted online and I welcome any readers who are going to the AIA/APA meeting to attend the papers in our panel. We have eight participants within our colloquium representing six different countries. The program of our session follows below. When abstracts are made available online I will reference these in a future post.

Session 6A

Contextual Numismatics: New Perspectives and
Interdisciplinary Methodologies
Saturday, January 10, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Organizers: Nathan T. Elkins, Goethe Universität Frankfurt / University of Missouri; Stefan Krmnicek, Goethe Universität Frankfurt

Colloquium Overview Statement:

The participants in this panel expound innovative and dynamic approaches to the contextual study of ancient coins within an interdisciplinary framework. Coins have often been reduced to mere aesthetic objects or chronological refer­ences divorced from consideration of their original contexts in which they were once embedded. A multidisciplinary treatment of the individual dimensions of an ancient object (functional, social, historical, political, personal, etc.) provides a better understanding of its contemporary meaning. In the study of ancient art and culture, for example, modern scholarship has successfully applied such ap­proaches. Unlike most art objects, however, coins also have an equally strong prac­tical and functional quality, which must be investigated in conjunction with their other dimensions and within the wider context of material culture. Therefore, the numismatist ought to formulate proper methodologies that address these factors suitably.

Using the above methodologies and approaches, the first two papers in this panel explore the theoretical premises in which numismatics can be applied in a wider interdisciplinary framework. The third examines the relationship between hoarders and hoards, while the fourth considers the semantic value of certain coin types. The final paper reconsiders chisel cuts on Athenian tetradrachms in relation to function in light of hoard context. Fleur Kemmers, who has successfully ap­plied the concept of Bildsprache to coins from excavated contexts, and who is sen­sitive to the advantages of developing numismatic method and theory, provides discussion.

1. Session Introduction (Nathan T. Elkins, Goethe Universität Frankfurt/ University of Missouri)

2. Two Sides of a Coin: Etic Structures and Emic Perspectives in Numismatics (Stefan Krmnicek, Goethe Universität Frankfurt)

3. Working in Between: Numismatics as Historical Archaeology (Nanouschka Myrberg, Stockholm University)

4. Interrogating Ancient Coin Finds: What They Say, and What They Do Not Know (Georges Depeyrot, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique; Delia Moisil, National Museum of History of Romania)

5. Coin Imagery, Authority and Communication: the Case of the Later Soldier-Emperors, ca. A.D. 260–295 (Ragnar Hedlund, Uppsala University)

6. Chisel Cuts: Bureaucratic Control Marks on Fifth Century Owls in the Near East? (Richard Fernando Buxton, University of Washington)

Discussant: Fleur Kemmers (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)
On contextual material approaches to numismatics, one should also take note of the session which has been organized by Kris Lockyear for the 2009 Roman Archaeology Conference in Ann Arbor. That sesssion is entitled "Incorporating Coin Finds into the Archaeological and Historical Narrative."

The Friends of Numismatics have organized a session as well at the Joint Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. Their session, "Coins and Identity," is listed in the APA's preliminary program. The Friends of Numismatics typically host a reception (TBA) at the joint AIA/APA meeting for ANS alumni and friends.

There is no doubt that some individual presentations at the joint meeting will make extensive use of numismatic evidence, but we await the online publication of individual abstracts.
(Image: Reverse of a Constantinopolis commemorative follis struck in Cyzicus in AD 335 under Constantine the Great. From the excavations at Yotvata).

Saturday, November 8, 2008

SAFE Honors Lord Colin Renfrew at the 2009 AIA/APA Meeting in Philadelphia

SAFE (Saving Antiquities for Everyone), an organization I support, honored Neil Brodie and Donny George in January 2008 at the SAFE Beacon Awards Reception at the AIA/APA meeting in Chicago. In addition to the Beacon Awards Reception, SAFE had a strong presence at the annual meeting with multiple well-attended lectures at its booth. Donny George also led SAFE tours at the Oriental Institute in Chicago. All supporters and lecturers were enthusiastic volunteers.

This year, SAFE will have an even stronger presence at the AIA/APA meeting in Philadelphia in January 2009. SAFE will again have a booth in the exhibit hall with many different speakers, activities, and film screenings (details will be forthcoming on SAFE's website as they are finalized). This year the SAFE Beacon Award Reception will honor Lord Prof. Colin Renfrew, whose contributions to raising awareness about the problem of pillage are well known and respected. The former director of the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre and the McDonald Institute of Archaeology at Cambridge is an important figure in archaeology as well for his many significant contributions to prehistory and archaeological theory. From 1981 to 2004, he held the distinguished Disney Chair of Archaeology at Cambridge, a position that has been held by many well-known archaeologists in the past. In conjunction with his acceptance of the award Prof. Renfrew will give a lecture during the Beacon Award reception entitled "Combating the Illicit Antiquities Trade: the 1970 Rule as a Turning Point (or How the Metropolitan Museum lags behind the Getty)." During the course of the AIA/APA meeting he will also conduct SAFE tours at the University of Pennsylvania Museum on the theme of "Collecting the Right Way." Prof. Renfrew is a brilliant and inspiring speaker and space at the reception and tours is no doubt limited.

SAFE is printing approximately 2,000 Souvenir Journals to be distributed at the AIA/APA meeting. Last year several university departments, museums, individuals, advocacy groups, and others offered their support and congratulations to the Beacon Award Winners and SAFE in the 2008 Souvenir Journal. If you or your organization would like to acknowledge Prof. Renfrew's contributions or show your support to SAFE, you may do so by submitting your information, graphic, or desired message using SAFE's online form or by contacting me directly.

Click here for the details of the 2009 Beacon Award Reception for Prof. Renfrew and to purchase tickets. Click here for information on the 2008 Beacon Awards Reception

Click here to reserve a spot in Prof. Renfrew's SAFE tour.

Watch the exhibition page for updates on SAFE's activities at the 2009 AIA/APA meeting in Philadelphia and/or to volunteer to help make SAFE's presence at the meeting successful. Click here for a description of SAFE's activities at the AIA/APA in January 2008.

Details and registration information for the 2009 AIA/APA meeting can be found here. The preliminary program and abstracts for scholarly presentations will be available online soon. SAFE members have organized some AIA workshops and sessions; more information should be made available on SAFE's exhibition page in the near future.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Raubgrabung und Handel mit Kulturgütern

I have now received the program for the colloquium for the Hessian Police Academy, which I referenced in the previous post. My contribution is an expansion of the lecture I gave in Berlin. The speakers and topics are below:

Begrüßung / Eröffnung der Veranstaltung
Gert FISCHER, stv. Direktor der Hess. Polizeischule
Holger GRIESEL, FB Kriminalitätsbekämpfung

Problematik der Raubgrabungen und des illegalen Handelns aus archäologischer Sicht
Herr Dr. Michael MÜLLER-KARPE,
Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz

Raubgrabungen und der illegale Handel mit Kulturgut aus Sicht der
Polizei / Aufgaben der Denkmalpflege
Herr Eckhard LAUFER, Polizeistation Usingen

Ausmaß und Netzwerk des Münzhandels im Internet
Herr Nathan Thomas ELKINS, Universität Frankfurt/M.

Internationale Erkenntnisse und Zusammenarbeit
Frau Silvelie KARFELD, Bundeskriminalamt, SO 41

Erfahrungen der Zollbehörden
Herr Georg KILBERG, Hauptzollamt Darmstadt

In my perception, there appears to be more contact in Europe between agencies on issues and problems surrounding the trade in illicitly excavated cultural goods. I am aware that some archaeological groups in U.S. conduct workshops and training sessions for customs officers and the like, but perhaps it would be worth intensifying cooperative efforts through colloquia and workshops there.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Der Handel mit antiken Münzen. Ausmaß und Netzwerke (The Trade in Ancient Coins: Scale and Networks)

Earlier this year I gave a lecture in Frankfurt entitled "The Ancient Coin Trade in North America: Scale, Organization, and Politics," which generated a fair amount of interest from German scholars, law enforcement, and culture ministry officials. Subsequently, I was invited to provide an abbreviated form of that presentation at a closed conference that occurred today in Berlin, in which I focused primarily on the scale of the trade in "fresh" (recently surfaced) ancient coins and the organization of trade networks. The report was entitled "Der Handel mit antiken Münzen. Ausmaß und Netzwerke" ("The Trade in Ancient Coins: Scale and Networks)." I've been asked to give the same presentation to the Hessian Police Academy later this month.

The aim of the conference was to promote dialogue and exchange information between academics, government officials (culture ministry), customs, and law enforcement. It was interesting to see how these groups interact with each other in Germany - I presume better than in the U.S. - and there were a number of interesting reports and perspectives about current issues pertinent to the protection of archaeological goods going in and out of Germany.

The coin trade presentation generated a lively discussion. The research that I presented will be incorporated into a couple of publications and so I will not lay it all out here, but several found the model of trade networks very useful and so I thought it might be worth sharing an English version of that model here. It is based on various types evidence provided by active members of the trade community. The model pertains only to the trade in recently surfaced or "fresh" material coming directly from source countries. The class of dealers known as "wholesalers" dispose of their damaged, worn, and less collectible coins (i.e. less valuable according to the market) in bulk directly to collectors in venues like eBay and they often "wholesale" coins of higher market value to mid-range dealers and auction houses. A detailed explanation of the relationships will be given in future publications with specific references to the supporting evidence.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Archaeological 'Brown Shirts'

Profitable ancient coin dealer and self-regarded "independent scholar" Wayne Sayles views himself as an authority on ancient coins, the ancient world, and cultural property issues. He has written some books on collecting, publishes articles about collecting in a collector magazine he founded, and he organized a group of dealers together and founded a lobby (the ACCG) in 2004 to combat what he calls "radical archaeologists." He and some other vociferous and/or leading members of this lobby have argued or insinuated that archaeologists want to take over the world, control all ancient world science and resources, bring back world dictators, and prance around in brown uniforms. This certain group frequently uses the imagery of Hitler's Germany in its online discussions with other collectors and dealers.

Ancient coin and antiquities dealer Phil Jones, who once informed me he was (or is) either the chair or a member of ACCG's Balkan Affairs Committee (I wonder, why would they have one?), responded irately to a collector with an archaeology degree who had pointed out that although coin dealers argue that the coin trade is different from that in other antiquities they often sell those too. Jones said:

"There is a reality that you haven't considered yet in your 'AIA NAZI' anti-market position that I don't particularly accept or welcome."

Jones later apologized for the outburst after apparently being told to do so by the group's moderator.

Shortly after the ACCG was formed Dave Welsh, ancient coin dealer and Chair of the ACCG's International Affairs Committee, attempted to recruit people with an online posting entitled "Uncle Wayne Wants YOU" in which he insensitively compared archaeological ethical concerns to Nazism and the Holocaust:

"There were many thousands of Jews who stayed in Germany after the Nazis took power. They did not believe Hitler would actually do the crazy evil things he had been ranting about. Cultural property law is not Nazi fascism. Those advocating it are honorable, well intentioned people of high moral character, not homicidal maniacs. But their proposed laws really do threaten to become a Holocaust for collecting. Those who promote the Unidroit convention (and other cultural property laws) don't care what happens to collectors. They are focused on their own goals, and many would actually welcome these laws putting an end to private collecting."
Shortly after the U.S. State Department accepted Cyprus' request for renewal of import restrictions with the addition of certain coins of Cypriot type, Welsh again tried to recruit ACCG members with alarmism and the use of fascistic imagery:
"….If the AIA sent a squad of radical archaeologists to your house to seize your collection, in the process verbally abusing you as a moral cripple responsible for everything bad that is happening to archaeological sites, wouldn't you be mad as Hades? Wouldn't you be ready to fight? Well get ready to fight, because that is more or less what they intend to do, and actually are doing, one small step at a time. They really believe that private collecting is wrong by their standards of morality, and that all antiquities ought to be taken away from collectors and private museums who own them, to be stored in public institutions under the care and control of trained academics who are the only ones worthy of being entrusted with that responsibility.

If collecting is not important enough to fight for, in the end (not so very
distant, in my opinion) we WILL lose the right to collect. In the process we will also lose other even more important rights and freedoms. I'm already fighting as hard as I can."
Wayne Sayles' business partner, John Lavender, who co-operates their dealership, Sayles & Lavender, once replied to a query from a collector who had an ethical concern about buying bulk uncleaned coins:

"...You certainly shouldn't doubt what attention your uncleaned treasures will get when some AIA [N]azi finds a bag of them for sale at the local Discovery [S]tore."
These are just a few of the dozens of comments one can find made by ancient coin dealers and collectors associated with the ACCG on some of the online discussion lists.

On his own blog Wayne Sayles - who remains the ACCG's executive director - never engages in the issues but moves immediately to inflammatory personal attacks, recently accusing me and others of "goose-stepping" by wishing to discuss ethical issues. Goose-stepping is a term which in itself has Nazi overtones. I suppose such tactics and feeble rants are welcome alternatives for those who are impotent of either the faculty or will to enter into an equitable and honest dialogue about the real issues (see also Paul Barford's response).

Let me be clear: by no means do I wish to imply that all collectors and dealers subscribe to these reprehensible tactics and deceptions. To the contrary many collectors on these same discussion lists seem disgusted by this recurrent language and distraction from the core issues and have often responded to such statements on the lists (on the fact that many collectors and even some metal detectorists find the the views and tactics of ACCG leaders extremist, see Gill's "Coins and Cyprus: Listening to the Coin Forum" with comments following the post and my own "ACCG Benefit Auction Press Release").

The problem here, however, is that this radical minority seems to run the show at the ACCG and dominate discussions and "dialogues" from the U.S.-based dealer/collector perspective. How effective and useful is this sort of inflammatory nonsense? It definitely distracts from the real issues and does not breed an atmosphere in which those with opposing views would want to get together for any sort of meeting of the minds. Perhaps that is the goal: the profiteers and self-interests can continue operating under the status quo unless legislated out of existence.

I count several collectors among my friends and colleagues and I regularly correspond with several erudite collectors and dealers. Many of them have expressed to me they find activities such as those described above distasteful. There are indeed many brilliant collectors and also some very well-educated and published dealers. We disagree on the issues, but we are capable of discussing them openly and frankly without constantly exchanging barbs. I am also fortunate to be able to turn to them as peers when I wish to discuss other research with them or ask questions about an area of numismatics in which they are more specialized.

Why are some of the ACCG's leaders incapable of doing the same? Why are the rational and more intellectual collectors and dealers not representing the wider trade and collector community? Certainly the people engaging in these behaviors and unsavory tactics are not the ones collectors and dealers want representing their interests to the public and to Washington lawmakers.