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Author Topic: Time to Speak Out  (Read 57368 times)
commodus
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« Reply #225 on: January 25, 2011, 02:19:04 pm »

Following is the text of an email sent out today by Harlan J. Berk:


We recently learned the Italian restriction on antiquities, which was up for renewal, was amended to now include the following ancient coins listed below.  What this means is collectors can only import the following coins into the USA with documentation proving that it was out of the source country before January 19, 2011.  The only good news here is that Roman Imperial as well as most Roman Republican coins were not added to the restriction.  The Greek restriction is up next, and based on this current news it seems coins will most likely be added to it as well.
 
What should be done and what does this mean to you?

Any coins that are already in the USA are legal to own and legal to trade.  The U.S. State Department has now made it difficult for Americans to purchase overseas unless documentation proving ownership prior to 1/19/2011 can be provided for listed restricted coins.  This also means European dealers will not be able to enter the USA with stock for coin fairs without proper documentation on restricted coin types.

What can you do?

It is more important for the good of the industry to document all coins already in this country and abroad.  That way if you or dealers, like us, sell coins overseas the coins will still have the ability to legally travel anywhere.  We hope you realize the importance of documenting your collections so that future generations can still enjoy the hobby for years to come.

Please contact our offices if you have further questions about this.

The current restriction of Italian ancient coins:
 
F. Coins of Italian Types-A type catalogue of listed currency and coins can be found in N.K. Rutter et al. (eds.), Historia Numorum: Italy (London, 2001). Others appear in G.F. Hill Coins of Ancient Sicily (Westminster, 1903).

1. Lumps of bronze (Aes Rude)-Irregular lumps of bronze used as an early medium of exchange in Italy from the 9th century B.C.

2. Bronze bars (Ramo Secco and Aes Signatum)-Cast bronze bars (whole or cut) used as a media of exchange in central Italy and Etruria from the 5th century B.C.

3. Cast coins (Aes Grave)-Cast bronze coins of Rome, Etruscan, and Italian cities from the 4th century B.C.

4. Struck coins-Struck coins of the Roman Republic and Etruscan cities produced in gold, silver, and bronze from the 3rd century B.C. to c. 211 B.C., including the ''Romano-Campanian'' coinage.

5. Struck colonial coinage-Struck bronze coins of Roman republican and early imperial colonies and municipia in Italy, Sicily, and Sardinia from the 3rd century B.C. to c. A.D. 37.

6. Coins of the Greek cities-Coins of the Greek cities in the southern Italian peninsula and in Sicily (Magna Graecia), cast or struck in gold, silver, and bronze, from the late 6th century B.C. to c. 200 B.C.

Link to full written restriction:  http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-882.pdf
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Eric Brock (1966 - 2011)
Lloyd Taylor
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« Reply #226 on: January 25, 2011, 03:02:13 pm »

Does anyone have any idea of how this restriction will work in practice? 

For example I live in Australia.  Suppose I wish to consign a few coins of the type in question, which I have owned for many years, to a US auction house.

What is required by way of accompanying documentation to prove the coins were out of Italy prior to 19 January 2011? For example I have a 1987 hand written Spink receipt for a Tarentum stater (no image on the receipt of course) - does this suffice as proof? Some others more recently acquired are illustrated in auction catalogs that I have retained.  Does the catalog have to accompany the coin to the US as documentary proof or is reference to the catalog entry sufficient?  And what of coins listed on databases on CoinArchives and acsearch?  Does reference of a specific coin to such a database suffice as documentary proof for the purposes of US customs clearance?

And who is responsible for seeing this process through, the consignor or the consignee?  Does it mean I have to accompany the coins in question, rather than ship them to the auction house?  This approach would of course make selling via consignment to the US prohibitively expensive. And if the consignee accepts the responsibility and work of arranging the clearance i the US then I am sure that he'll want a bigger fee for doing so, which will probably make it worth while considering sale options outside the US.

Similarly, it is likely that purchases by US collectors from dealers outside the US will be charged a premium for the additional documentation for customs (which I suspect will prove quite onerous when requirements are defined) and the risk involved in shipping to the USA.  Then there is issue what happens if a coin fails the documentation test (whatever that is)? Is it seized by US customs or returned to the person from which it originated outside the US?

Then we have the issue of US customs officials ability to differentiate pre- and post- 211 BC coinage? Everything that looks vaguely of Italian ancient origin will likely be seized, or at the least suffer dramatic delays in customs clearance and processing and thus huge customs clearance costs imposts.

It seems to me it just got too hard for me to sell via consignment to US auction houses/dealers and the risk of selling into the US means costs will rise considerably for US purchasers. 
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Lloyd Taylor
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« Reply #227 on: January 25, 2011, 04:15:08 pm »

Follow this up with restrictions on Greeks and the USA becomes an essentially closed market in terms of ancient coins, with all the associated imbalances that arise from restrictive trade barriers. Over the long run the result is a likely net outflow of extant legal inventory accompanied by the development of a strong black market in the incompletely documented stuff. Some like CNG with its multi-channel distribution (England and USA) will be facing some potential conflicting requirements that will have to be managed in the acquisition, marketing and management of inventory (translation higher costs all round).

It'll be interesting to watch the dynamics..... from afar!
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dougsmit
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« Reply #228 on: January 25, 2011, 07:05:26 pm »

A question:  What documentation will a coin dealer require from a consignor that a coin of the included group existed in the US (or outside Italy) before the cutoff date?   Looking at my collection of low end items, I have an 'included' coin purchased in 1987 for $15.  If I had saved all my receipts for all coins purchased (some for as little as $5 individually - lets not even think about the ones from uncleaned lots), many do not identify the coin well enough to remove all doubt that it is the receipt that went with that coin.  This business obviously means more to dealers in Syracusan dekadrachms but the documentation of a $15 Sicilian coin bought with cash at a coin show in 1987 is probably worth more than the coin.   Since the receipt (if there even was one back then - did you ever buy cheap coins at shows in 1987?) at best said, 'bronze - $15' there is no link between that coin and that receipt.  In my case, I have photos including digital ones with pre 2011 EXIF dates but I also know how to altar an EXIF date.  I published photos of included coins on my website starting before 2011 but those dates are equally challengeable and hard to document in a way that will accompany the coin to its next owner.  Certainly no great attention is to be paid to my $15 junk bronze but I am aware of at least one dekadrachm in private hands that has not changed hands for 50 years.  Finding an illustrated listing of it proving it was here all that time could be just as hard to find as pedigreeing every minor bronze.  When they get around to including the Romans I bought for $1 in the 1960's, the paper trail gets worse. 

I don't plan on selling my collection so this makes no particular matter to me but the practical effect here is to place coin sales at the mercy of the hope that there will be no enforcement.  Proving legality of one $5000 coin might be worth the effort but 1000 $5 coins won't.   The only way to sell a truly legal $15 coin lacking paperwork will be to melt it and take your 15 cents.  Last I heard it is illegal to melt US cents but Syracusan bronzes were not mentioned. 
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commodus
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« Reply #229 on: January 25, 2011, 07:23:21 pm »

This is strictly about coins passing through US customs as they enter the country. Once they are here they are no concern of US Customs. No documentation is needed to sell, buy, or trade any coins that were already here before the date of the MOU.
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Eric Brock (1966 - 2011)
Lloyd Taylor
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« Reply #230 on: January 25, 2011, 08:59:18 pm »

Quote from: commodus on January 25, 2011, 07:23:21 pm
This is strictly about coins passing through US customs as they enter the country. Once they are here they are no concern of US Customs. No documentation is needed to sell, buy, or trade any coins that were already here before the date of the MOU.

Does that mean that the receipt for any coin purchased in the USA after 19 January 2011 is considered as meeting the documentary requirement that the coin existed outside italy before that date?  I think that such is the case in law.

After all the entry of illegal coins to the USA is prohibited and prevented by customs, so that by definition and in law any coin bought in the USA after 19 January 2011 must have been out of Italy before the 19 January 2011? 

The post January 2011 receipt and documentation accompanying such a coin purchase thus become proof of legality.

Think about it! Cool
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Lloyd Taylor
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« Reply #231 on: January 25, 2011, 09:09:37 pm »

Also with the attention on and to documentation, I suspect the focus of many a faker will turn to manufacturing documentation a much as pre-211 BC Italian coins! Wink  From an old US collection provenance will be looked upon very favorably in the trade. I can even envisage a new industry based on the laundering illegal finds through the USA market, at least as far as documentation is concerned. Cool
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commodus
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« Reply #232 on: January 25, 2011, 09:17:35 pm »

It isn't illegal for Americans to own the coin types in question, only to bring them through customs after January 19, 2011. US Customs has now taken on the obligation of doing Italy's work for it. Before that date any coins brought out of Italy in contravention of Italian law were the problem of Italian Customs -- US Customs didn't care because no US law was broken bringing the coin into the country. Now US Customs does care, at least in theory. But what was already here is none of the business of Customs or any other agency of the US government, legally or otherwise. Coins already here are unaffected by the MOU. We shouldn't make more of this than there is!
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Eric Brock (1966 - 2011)
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« Reply #233 on: January 25, 2011, 09:44:02 pm »

Quote from: commodus on January 25, 2011, 09:17:35 pm
We shouldn't make more of this than there is!

I am not making more of this than there is. It may be OK for you being in the US, but If I were to sell my collection then I would plan to do so in the US, which would require me to import it to the US. Remember there are many perspectives on this change, not simply that of the US centric collector who is arguably the least affected in terms of being denied potential access, due to potentially onerous, and as yet undefined documentary requirements, to the largest ancient coin market in the world when it comes to selling. And it may (indeed I dare say will) effect, one way or the other, the willingness of non-US parties to consign to US dealers and thus their business and the availability of material in the US in the longer term, more so as current US based inventory "leaks" to the international market place. I think it would be myopic of the trade not to consider these potential impacts, although others may disagree! And remember this is just the start, Cyprus, then Italy pre-211 BC, next Greece and then... Huh....connect the dots!

Good luck with it, but I dare say that big Syracusian drachm and its ilk eventually will be wrested from your "cold dead hands."  Cool  After all this is the ultimate objective of the protagonists of this agenda.
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« Reply #234 on: January 25, 2011, 10:38:26 pm »

if it looks like a cow and it walks like a cow and it MOUs like a cow it's a tax.

 Roll Eyes
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Lloyd Taylor
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« Reply #235 on: January 25, 2011, 10:46:04 pm »

if it looks like a cow and it walks like a cow and it MOUs like a cow it's a tax.
Roll Eyes

LOL. Yep ...it would be naive to assume that this has no consequence, at the very least, for transaction costs... in market parlance the buy sell spread just widened considerably and that is only the start of it .... all in the name of bureaucracy and a cow of a one at that! Smiley
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commodus
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« Reply #236 on: January 25, 2011, 11:45:40 pm »

Actually, this has already occurred with Cyprus, import restrictions for many Cypriot coins entering the U.S. taking effect on July 16, 2007. Similar import restictions on certain coins entering the U.S. from China went into effect March 9, 2009. Compared to the ridiculous terms of the Cyrpiot and Chinese restrictions, the Italian ones, bad as they are, are positively liberal.
I seriously don't think it will be seriously enforced anyway. Even if it is, I myself have no intention of abiding by it should I purchase something abroad for my collection. As I said, who can remember to declare every little piece of metal one buys when travelling? As Anatole France said long ago "For laws to be respected they first must be respectable."
I am certainly not trying to argue with you, Lloyd. As collectors we are on the same side, after all. And, of course, I am going to be U.S.-centric in my approach. I am a U.S. citizen, this is a U.S. government action, and I am viewing this in light of how it will affect me as such. Everyone in the world is focused on their own interests and those of the country of which they are citizens, whatever they may say to the contrary.
That said, I certainly don't approve of this MOU foolishness that my government has embarked upon, first with Cyprus and China and now, a few years later, with Italy and next, doubtless, with Greece. Then again, I don't approve of a great deal my government does. But, pray telll me, what can I do about it? What can you do about anything the Australian government does? These are matters beyond our ability to influence. We can write letters, send emails, cast ballots. But, as the maxim goes, if these actually affected change they'd be illegal. What we can do is look out for our own personal interests. I am not advising others to scoff at this policy (technically I don't think it can be called law, since it was not enacted by any legislative authority of which I am aware, though that is what it effectively is), but I, as a collector, surely intend to!
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Eric Brock (1966 - 2011)
Lloyd Taylor
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« Reply #237 on: January 26, 2011, 03:50:44 am »

Then we have the issue of US customs officials ability to differentiate pre- and post- 211 BC coinage? Everything that looks vaguely of Italian ancient origin will likely be seized, or at the least suffer dramatic delays in customs clearance and processing and thus huge customs clearance costs imposts.

If this is any guide then there is nothing to worry about... http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/culprop/itimage.html

Quote from: commodus on January 25, 2011, 11:45:40 pm
....  I seriously don't think it will be seriously enforced anyway.

So you may be correct in this assessment, in which case it is nothing more than a bureaucratic charade!
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goldenancients
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« Reply #238 on: January 26, 2011, 04:01:33 am »

Then we have the issue of US customs officials ability to differentiate pre- and post- 211 BC coinage? Everything that looks vaguely of Italian ancient origin will likely be seized, or at the least suffer dramatic delays in customs clearance and processing and thus huge customs clearance costs imposts.

This is my greatest concern personally. I am an American who lives abroad, travels extensively, and crosses US border customs quite often... usually with several ancient coins in tow. I will soon be returning to the US with my entire collection (most of which was purchased in the States). There are very, very few people that can identify ancient coins of any type whatsoever. What will keep the customs agent who barely passed high school from confiscating any ancient coins he finds just in case it might be illegal - even with proper documentation, whatever that is? Then you have another conundrum: the months or years it might take to get them returned (if at all) and any legal or bureaucratic hoops that you will have to jump through to prove that everything is correct according to the letter of the executive order (not law, as commodus so eloquently stated).

I doubt that this will be enforced. Yet, if it is, there is no possible way that it will be enforced correctly, and the result will most certainly be seizure of any suspicious items since Homeland Security is doubtless NOT in the business of educating their personnel in the fine art of classical numismatic identification.

The sky isn't falling. It's being polluted by the cloud of governmental regulation. 

Regards,
Danny
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Andrew McCabe
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« Reply #239 on: January 26, 2011, 06:13:43 am »


Quote from: commodus on January 25, 2011, 11:45:40 pm
....  I seriously don't think it will be seriously enforced anyway.

So you may be correct in this assessment, in which case it is nothing more than a bureaucratic charade!

Enforcement is not necessarily the issue. Which European dealer is going to send Magna Graecia / early RR coins to USA in the face of this ban? None I suspect, even if the buyer is willing to take the risk. European auctions are going to come widely labelled with "this coin not available for purchase by US buyers". And despite the nonchalance shown by many on this thread about bringing in coins through US customs, I - in common with many people - blush at the thought of taking even a bottle of liquor past a customs checkpoint, let alone smuggling ancient artefacts which might incur a prison sentence and not just a $20 fine. It won't happen.

For Danny, who wishes to bring his collection back to the USA, I'd suggest after a cool pause for thought that he disposes of his embargoed coins first - or leaves them in safe deposit overseas, and brings back the remainder of the collection containing not a single ancient piece from China, Magna Graecia or Cyprus, in a manner such there isn't a single coin at risk and thus avoiding risk that the whole lot gets confiscated. It's the sensible thing to do. He may find a professional dealer who has the means to import the embargoed coins for him with appropriate testimony of them being in the US prior to Jan 11, possibly using Danny's receipts. But I wouldn't do it myself.

On the latter point, I've a bunch of Magna Graecia coins which I wish to dispose of - about 30, some high quality. Many were purchased originally from the US. I would like to sell them in the USA. I'd prefer to consign the coins and their documentation to a professional in Europe with the request "sort it out" rather than risk a home-made post-myself solution.
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« Reply #240 on: January 26, 2011, 07:16:32 am »

The sky is most definitely not falling. I have been asked by a number of clients how this is going to impact their ability to purchase ancients in the restricted categories. In reality, this Memorandum will not have a significant effect on legitimate transactions. The stipulation is that the restricted coins must have been outside of Italy as of Jan 19th 2011, not that they must have been inside the US as of that date. Thus US collectors may still purchase from dealers and auctioneers elsewhere in Europe providing that the restricted coin in question has been outside of Italy since before the Memorandum took effect, and one can provide documentation to that effect.

Danny, as long as you have appropriate evidence that the coins were bought legally outside of Italy before 19 Jan (auction catalogue, invoice inlcuding photograph, dealer declaration etc), then you should have nothing to fear in taking them back into the US.

As far as I am concerned, I will happily continue to sell the restricted coins to US customers because I know exactly where all my coins come from, and apart from just a few exceptions the answer is 'not Italy'.

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« Reply #241 on: January 26, 2011, 11:18:54 am »

My question to everyone that is concerned about the impact of the latest round
of restrictions- Are you a member of the ACCG?

Unless you are going through financial hardship, there really is no excuse. The
ACCG is the ONLY hope we have of resisting the assault on our avocation. Baring
financial hardship, if you collect ancient coins and are not a member, shame on
you, it is only $35 or $15 for students.

All of us may not care for lawsuits or we may not agree on the details. But in
our lovely bureaucracy we are often forced to take the least direct route from point
A to point B. Also, it is incredibly expensive. Every action taken has been
done in consultation with top notch attorneys.

Please note, 100% of funds received go towards defending our hobby. (Wayne
Sayles, John Lavender or any of the volunteers do not receive a single red cent
for their countless hours of work), the attorneys hired are among the best in
their fields and have given considerable discounts.

So, if you are not a member, you can sign up here:

http://www.accg.us/membership/join.aspx

If you are a member, consider giving a small donation to help with the
considerable legal expenses. Even if it is only $5, that is better than
nothing. I'm sending my own small donation right now...

My 2 cents.

Alfred


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« Reply #242 on: January 27, 2011, 01:33:01 pm »

There's a conundrum Robert. Europe is unaffected. So where is the incentive for Europeans (and specifically Italians who have a say in their government) to do anything about it?

They're affected, firstly, by looting of archaeological sites. Coins have been included in this by bureaucrats with no knowledge of archaeology, and by archaeologists with ideological views similar to those of Barford, which I think many of us are familiar with. We're not professionals, so we have no business near antiquities.

Secondly, they're affected by the loss of information caused by the inability of the said professionals to work with amateurs such as detectorists. This is ludicrous when amateurs have contributed, and continue to contribute, to many areas of science, especially those where fieldwork plays a predominant part. They can't argue that such collaboration is impossible, because we're making it work here in the UK, and have done over many years. If detecting was illegal, the Staffordshire Hoard, and many other finds, would either never have turned up, or would have disappeared into the black market. Similar losses of data will be occurring in every country which fails in this area.

When it comes to the repatriation of antiquities, there's an excellent case for items of significant interest, and I totally support their return, or bans on their export. Before someone raises the question, I've long believed that the Elgin Marbles should go back to Greece. It's much harder to see that there's any case for the return of coins minted by the tens of thousands. There's nothing unique about them, unless it's something like the Ashmolean's Domitianus, and they should be available for study to the international community. Experts, both amateur and professional, from all round the world, contribute to research in this area. Destroying the trade in ancient coins would seriously limit the amount of study which would take place, impoverishing everyone.
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Robert Brenchley

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