In the United States, the dealer lobby exploited and misrepresented the news of seizures in Germany in order to promote their own agenda and urge American collectors to contribute to their lobbying efforts (see discussion in "Police Action with Antiquities and Ancient Coins in Germany: Some Clarifications and a Call for Reason").
In various online discussion lists and blogs, leaders and members of the dealer lobby painted an alarmist view of rampaging German police going door-to-door, singling out ancient coin collectors and taking their coins away. One of the American ancient coin dealer lobby leaders, Dave Welsh, who has been decorated by the group (discussion here and here), went so far as to advertise the insensitive comparison that one irate German dealer made between the actions of German police officers in these cases to that of the Nazi Gestapo. Welsh also made personal attacks on a German law enforcement officer. This ACCG leader is well-known for dismissively portraying archaeologists and preservation advocates as Nazis rather than addressing the issues (e.g. discussion here). Another dealer and honoree of the dealer lobby accepted skewed versions of the events presented to American collectors and added:
"I'm not shocked or surprised to see this happening with China which is a communist (and therefore statist and totalitarian regime) government do this, for their government it is par for the course. Nor am I shocked that it is happening in Germany because they have flirted with fascism and gone back and forth with mild forms of socialism over the years. But it is still disturbing nonetheless because of the precedent it sets for other governments to follow, they can point to Germany now and say, 'they do it, why not us?'" [emphasis added].
And we all know what he means here as "German fascism" is shorthand for "Nazism."
Following such alarmist discussions, which one can only view as sad, but laughable, symptoms of wider right-wing American political tactics today, the dealer lobby’s Executive Director sought to exploit collector fear by plugging ACCG membership and asking for financial support.
In spite of the speculation and fear-mongering that has surrounded the events in Germany, one enlightening case has been prosecuted in Germany successfully. On 14 May 2009, it was reported that two people were prosecuted and sentenced in Germany for trafficking in stolen (illicitly imported/exported) ancient coins and details on the events that led to the conviction were provided ("Eine gute Lösung für politisch brisanten Fall," Oberhessische Zeitung).
In March 2008, the home of a 68 year-old woman and her 45 year-old son was raided by police with a search warrant for stolen coins and antiquities. Coins were seized and determined to have come from the Black Sea region, circulating in the Bosporan Kingdom in the area of the modern Ukraine. The market value of the coins was about € 40,000 (c. $56,000). Other coins had previously been sold by the two to dealerships and auction houses in Munich (labeled "Bavarian dealers" in the published report) and known sales were in the neighborhood of € 70,000 (c. $94,000). Let us keep in mind that large auction houses of the sort in Munich are what are typically viewed by the ancient coin collecting and dealing communities as "reputable sources." They were working with suppliers who were importing illegally from source countries and selling stolen property.
Police investigation of the two individuals began when the 45 year-old Russian man was stopped by police in December 2006 while driving erratically on the Autobahn. At that time police found several parcels of ancient coins in plastic bags, wrapped in black tape. The composition of the coins being transported at that time were similar to those confiscated in March 2008.
According to the article, study of the coin types indicates they circulated in the area of the modern Ukraine, while other circumstances appear to indicate that they compose part of a small museum collection that was likely hidden during the Second World War. In any case, the coins were illegally spirited out of the Ukraine to supply the inventories of western dealers and collectors.
Instead of obfuscatory and ignorant fear-mongering, is it not time that collectors and dealers ask questions of their suppliers and the circumstances surrounding the recent history of those objects? Can groups like the American ancient coin dealer lobby (ACCG) continue denouncing archaeologists and law enforcement while arguing against the value of context only to promote self- and commercial interests? Is a wholesale lack of concern for the physical destruction of history and the disdain for scientific inquiry and international law really a viable position? Will the ACCG laud the successful efforts of German law enforcement for stopping these criminals? Or will this case, like others before it, be misrepresented to further the ACCG’s agenda in working to maintain an indiscriminate and unconcerned market that thrives on loot, back-door dealing, and secrecy?