PAS officials and employees contacted the two sellers named in the previous post to seek details on the unrecorded ancient coins from Britain being sold in the United States. It also contacted the ACCG, the dealer lobby group which consistently points to the PAS as the only reasonable solution to looting.
In response to the inquiry by the PAS, seller Tony Jaworksi of Common Bronze indicated that the British coins he is selling were procured from a large number of detectorists (some actual collectors and some not) and assumes that they were accumulated over a year or more. He does not have any knowledge as to whether the coins were recorded under the PAS or not. He did not obtain an export license and stated he was unaware of the need for one.
Seller Joe Blazick still has not yet responded to the PAS' inquiry.
It appears that the PAS' contact with the ACCG may have been the impetus for Peter Tompa's post on the subject, with links to export requirements in the UK - something which one hopes future sellers will take more note of in the future when selling recent coin finds from Britain. Tompa agrees that information should be preserved, but disagrees with the "tone" of my original post. By "tone" Mr. Tompa must be referring to the questions I posed which the dealer lobby does not wish to answer or engage with:
"However enlightened they may be, schemes like the PAS are not effective deterrents against systematic looting for commercial gain unless collectors and dealers are willing to hold their suppliers legally and ethically accountable. So who are the collectors and dealers buying these coins from British metal detectorists who do not record their finds? If the PAS is to be touted as a way forward in other countries, why are not the antiquities dealers who favor the scheme actively denouncing this behavior within their own ranks? Why are list owners allowing commercial advertisements of material that is not being recorded when there are schemes such as the PAS in place? The indiscriminate market is the driving force behind looting; ethical dealers should conduct greater due diligence and hold suppliers to high standards. Conscientious consumers and collectors are the only real solution to the looting problem."
One of the ACCG's newest active devotees, John Hooker, - collector and author of the recent series of uninformed inculcations appearing on the ACCG website under the somewhat presumptuous title of "The Hooker Papers" (some discussion here) - was more bold, having simply dismissed concern over the British coins as "amusing" while inventing a number of scenarios whereby the coins in question were too insignificant to record. Of course, since the coins were taken out of Britain without any record, it is impossible to know how useful the coins may have been for the historical and archaeological record. Let us hope that Mr. Hooker's resentment for the need to record finds in Britain does not reflect wider views in the ancient coin collecting community in North America. After all, the scheme is meant to preserve information that would otherwise be destroyed by commercial or self-interest. If, as the ACCG has constantly argued, the PAS is the perfect solution to the looting problem, then why make excuses for profiteering that does not take the time to record finds when the PAS is available?
The ancient coin collecting and dealing communities are very small indeed and various classes of dealers and suppliers often have close personal and business relationships. Sellers like those discussed, and their suppliers, will no doubt have conducted business with dealers and/or collectors associated with the ACCG. The advertisements for uncleaned coins and unrecorded British finds were made on lists owned and/or moderated by ACCG members. Should not the ACCG be expending more energy on establishing proactive market guidelines and due diligence practices that address the negative effects of an indiscriminate market than it does on vilifying archaeologists and concocting disinformation to argue to the public that ancient coins are not archaeologically significant objects even when excavated in situ?
While touting the potential of the PAS as a model for other "source countries," the ACCG leadership resists promoting or advocating due diligence by dealers and collectors. Schemes like the PAS could preserve much information that is otherwise lost by casual hobbyists, but information continues to be lost so long as consumers (i.e. dealers and collectors) are not holding their suppliers (especially bulk suppliers) accountable. Indeed, some PAS officials have expressed irritation and dismay at the way the dealer lobby has used the PAS in its agenda.
Is it time to practice what is being preached?