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RIP Roma?


kirispupis

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Posted (edited)
50 minutes ago, Bonshaw said:

It briefly flashed a webpage giving the date, and then switched to "not saved."

I waited a minute and tried again, and the web page I saved previously was back in the archive again.

Hi @Bonshaw,

It sounds like the updated page lives on one of the Archive.org servers but that new page hasn’t yet propagated to update all the servers with the new links. So, as you long in again, sometimes to link to the server with the newest page and sometimes you don’t.

- Broucheion 

Edited by Broucheion
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20 minutes ago, Broucheion said:

Hi @Bonshaw,

It sounds like the updated page lives on one of the Archive.org servers but that new page hasn’t yet propagated to update all the servers with the new links. So, as you long in again, sometimes to link to the server with the newest page and sometimes you don’t.

- Broucheion 

Thanks, this makes sense!

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Funny fact: when I first started collecting ancients I avoided Roma for a bit because I thought they were based out of Rome and I'd have difficulties exporting the coins...

I've only been collecting for a few years, but I now feel like an "old timer" because I can say to newbies: yeah, I remember buying coins at Roma. Even chatted directly with Richard Beale once. They had some nice coins...nice coins..

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Posted · Benefactor
Posted (edited)

As an "in memoriam" tribute, here, in chronological order (rather than in order of purchase) are the 16 ancient coins I purchased from the (soon-to-be) late, lamented Roma Numismatics, Ltd., all from January 2022 through March 2023 -- I stopped not long after the scandal broke -- plus another three that I purchased elsewhere that were "ex Roma." A pretty nice group, I think.

Ex Roma Numismatics Ltd. Auction IX, 22 March 2015, Lot 168:

Corinth AR Stater jpg version.jpg

Purchased 5 May 2022 from Roma Numismatics Ltd., E-Sale 96, Lot 893 (from “Vitangelo” Collection).

image.png.4b13965a49a1607f591c821825d8f893.png

Purchased 6 Jan. 2022 from Roma Numismatics E-Sale 93, Lot 897. Ex Andrew McCabe Collection.

Memmius denarius (Apollo-Diocsuri with horses) (Roma 1.6.21).jpg

Purchased 16 Jun. 2022 from Roma Numismatics E-Sale 98, Lot 1029.

image.jpeg.6fca4d699bdcd896c3171a06b6aa75ce.jpeg

Purchased 16 Jun. 2022 from Roma Numismatics Ltd. E-Sale 98, Lot 1071.

image.jpeg.357dc1df1545d0484430e79f33d8fd97.jpeg

Purchased 22 Sep. 2022 from Roma Numismatics Ltd, Auction XXV, Lot 706. Ex Andrew McCabe Collection.

image.png.b91800ca0fdd95f6afd0789f52cb2305.png

Ex Roma Numismatics, Ltd. E-Sale 54, 28 Feb. 2019, Lot 558.

image.jpeg.3044f7507809807ec49e3e255e0656ac.jpeg

Purchased 3 Nov. 2022 from Roma Numismatics, Ltd., E-Sale 102, Lot 681.

image.png.96a25454b5fbd773144404956634adb9.png

Purchased 24 Nov. 2022 from Roma Numismatics Ltd E-Sale 103, Lot 737.

image.png.3bdf85c1bc08eae9ce09068893c8a29f.png

Purchased 6 Jan. 2022 from Roma Numismatics E-Sale 93, Lot 717.

image.png.e759da55e2ec5e58c47a7baf8428e439.png

Purchased 6 Jan. 2022 from Roma Numismatics E-Sale 93, Lot 974. 

image.png.29774b03b684f0e57188034b05aed2e4.png

Purchased 6 Jan. 2022 from Roma Numismatics E-Sale No. 93, Lot 982. 

image.jpeg.5f47469648b9d3e8a5081588d1eb8b01.jpeg

Purchased 5 May 2022 from Roma Numismatics Ltd., E-Sale 96, Lot 739.

image.jpeg.6464ec64feafccbece78be684394715a.jpeg

Ex Roma Numismatics Ltd., Auction XX, 29 Oct. 2020, Lot 384.

image.jpeg.509c6459b57b6eeeef59111928a1c0c1.jpeg

Purchased 16 Jun. 2022 from Roma Numismatics Ltd., E-Sale 98, Lot 1411.  

image.png.8c0079665655317246381cbdd086cc95.png

Purchased 16 Mar. 2023 from Roma Numismatics Ltd. E-Sale 107, Lot 1126. 

image.png.c08b2651a89c2d7263b12fe0c1f3e316.png

Purchased 16 Feb. 2023 from Roma Numismatics Ltd. E-Sale 106, Lot 1072. 

image.jpeg.296ba04f7ea2ce81f5f42bb310c4d4f6.jpeg

Purchased 16 Mar. 2023 from Roma Numismatics Ltd. E-Sale 107, Lot 1464; ex Collection of Barnaba Skibniewski, Warsaw. 

image.jpeg.075b736b51da65315a861a7d11d03b99.jpeg

Purchased 16 Mar. 2023 from Roma Numismatics Ltd. E-Sale 107, Lot 1474; ex Collection of Barnaba Skibniewski, Warsaw.

image.jpeg.22f22df2ee55517401cd67e92b3dc88f.jpeg

Plus one Napoleonic medal that was also ex Roma (purchased from Germania Inferior Numismatics), making a grand total of 20:

Ex Roma Numismatics Ltd., Auction 24, 28 March 2022, Lot 1653 (“From the R. T. Collection of Napoleonic Medals from the First French Republic and Empire”).

image.jpeg.4268806c643163b32f02c0a1cb2662bb.jpeg

Edited by DonnaML
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I just ran a count and 146 of my coins came from Roma.

Here are a few of my favorite purchases from them.

antiochossoter.jpg.89481fa49d0f40d36b633eff9750a66d.jpg

Seleukid Empire, Antiochos I Soter AR Tetradrachm
Seleukeia on the Tigris, 281-261 BC
Diademed head to right / Apollo Delphios seated to left on omphalos, testing arrow and resting left hand on grounded bow; ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ to right, ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ to left, monogram to outer left and right.
SC 379.5a; HGC 9, 128g. 16.80g, 29mm, 3h.

 

PtolemyII.jpg.c09732c2d76cec31c684dd5bf46135f0.jpg

Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphos
AR Tetradrachm. Tyre, dated RY 30 = 256/5 BCE
14.01g, 25mm, 12h.
Diademed head of Ptolemy I to right, wearing aegis around neck / ΠΤΟΛEΜΑΙOΥ [BAΣΙΛEΩΣ], eagle standing to left; monogram of Tyre above club to left; Λ (date) above monogram to right; A between legs.
CPE 577; Svoronos 657; SNG Copenhagen 488; DCA 20
Ex collection of R. N. Draskowski;
Ex Ephesus Numismatics, North Carolina, USA

 

julius_caesar.jpg.454549c8465e0e1d3fe2ee8b85a1f8c0.jpg

Julius Caesar AR Denarius.
Military mint travelling with Caesar, 49-48 BCE
Elephant advancing to right, trampling on serpent; CAESAR in exergue / Emblems of the pontificate: simpulum, aspergillum, securis (surmounted by wolf's head), and apex. Crawford 443/1; CRI 9; BMCRR Gaul 27-30; RSC 49. 3.26g, 20mm, 2h. 

 

Sabakes.jpg.ce97f6cb10a457319a171ceebb4cde06.jpg

Egypt, Achaemenid Province. Sabakes, satrap, AR Tetradrachm. Circa 340-333 BCE
16.61g, 25mm, 9h.
Head of Athena to right, wearing earring, necklace, and crested Attic helmet decorated with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl / Owl standing to right with head facing, olive sprig with berry and crescent in upper left field; uncertain letters to left, ""Sabakes symbol"" and SWYK (in Aramaic) to right.
Van Alfen Type III, 24-34 var. (O11/R- [unlisted rev. die]); Nicolet-Pierre, Monnaies 18-26 (same obv. die); SNG Copenhagen 4 var. (no letters on left of rev.); BMC 265 var. (same).

 

Balakros.jpg.67630c6f9c6cf9d4ac5365bf00faa504.jpg

Cilicia, Tarsos AR Stater.
Balakros, satrap of Cilicia under Alexander III.
Circa 333-323 BCE
Facing bust of Athena, draped, wearing triple-crested helmet and necklace / Baaltars seated to left, holding lotus-tipped sceptre; grain ear and grape bunch to left, B above ivy leaf to right, T below throne.
SNG Levante Suppl. 21; SNG BnF 368; SNG von Aulock 5964.
10.79g, 26mm, 6h

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I have participated in six Roma auctions since 2019. These are the coins I have won:

Quite attractive denarius with a veiled bust. Pietas looks like a lioness.

6020.14.40_1.jpg

An as from the Antonio Carmona collection. I bought it for the stephaned bust.

22161.1.1958_1.jpg

These temple sestertii are scarce. This one was reasonably priced but isn't exactly FDC.

Catalogue Image

Denarius apparently struck from aureus dies -- and I've identifed an aureus with a reverse die match. Interesting mule if it isn't a modern cast forgery.

23735.2.167_1.jpg

Scarce medium bronze with anachronistic DIVA AVG FAVSTINA obverse legend. Looks common, but it's not.

16396.6.30_1.jpg

Nothing special about this one. It was simply an upgrade. 

9017.9.12_1.jpg

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Posted · Supporter
4 hours ago, David Atherton said:

Does anyone remember when Roma was on VCoins?

20240429_222032.jpg.8a7bd25201e2ac0a77963e7fc4efc722.jpg

Yes - I see from my vcoins history that I bought 32 coins from them between 2010 and 2013.   They had a lot of fairly cheap coins then.

This is one from 2010 - RIC 1105.lg_FaustinaISesterti.jpg.f8d6fd648f7efae13c76e491011f79ed.jpg

I inadvertently bought the same type again from them on Vcoins in 2012...lg_FaustinaISesterti_4.jpg.e29d8adeb36bff7d81119c3c44df0e33.jpg

Oh well - maybe Beale will write a Bruce McNall type book about his experiences - "Fun While It Lasted" is a great read.

ATB,
Aidan.

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A potemtial issue for some of us???

Suppose that Richard sings like a canary to the authorities...  And admits to them that some of the hoards that ROMA sold were illegally obtained.   ROMA has all of their detailed sales records (with names and addresses) going way back in time.   What would prevent the authorities from going after the buyers of these coins...  as they were illegally obtained goods?

It would likely be financially worthwhile for the authorities to do this with the more expensive coins that were sold.

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Posted · Supporter
23 hours ago, David Atherton said:

Does anyone remember when Roma was on VCoins?

Sure. I think the only time I bought from them was off of Vcoins, more than a decade ago

 

Q

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I think it's a pity - I liked buying coins at Roma. Roma often had coins that I really liked. The service was impeccable - pay - get the goods safely. I have nothing bad to say about Roma, I have only had positive experiences.

 

What I don't understand, partly in the forums, partly on social media like Facebook, is the malice or even the opinion that Roma were criminals anyway - and some users unpack the moral club.

I would bet that these users have no problem buying a coin they really want from a dealer or an auction - without caring where exactly this coin comes from. Morality then quickly stops at their own favourite coin.

Anyone who pillories Bale should ask himself whether he has done everything he can to make 100% sure that his coins have all gone the legal way! Neither I nor my dealer colleagues have ever experienced buyers wanting to know exactly which way the coin they have just bought went. What I don't know doesn't make me hot? Or, if I don't know exactly, then I'm not guilty?

The only difference between Bale and us is that Bale illegally moved very expensive and valuable coins in a media-effective manner. But just because our coins are only worth 100 USD and we don't really care where they come from (or shift the responsibility to the seller) - we are morally better than Bale.

Somewhat provocatively written, I know. But I'm not throwing stones at Roma or Bale - because I think I've had enough coins in my hands whose paths I don't know.

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7 minutes ago, Prieure de Sion said:

I think it's a pity - I liked buying coins at Roma. Roma often had coins that I really liked. The service was impeccable - pay - get the goods safely. I have nothing bad to say about Roma, I have only had positive experiences.

 

What I don't understand, partly in the forums, partly on social media like Facebook, is the malice or even the opinion that Roma were criminals anyway - and some users unpack the moral club.

I would bet that these users have no problem buying a coin they really want from a dealer or an auction - without caring where exactly this coin comes from. Morality then quickly stops at their own favourite coin.

Anyone who pillories Bale should ask himself whether he has done everything he can to make 100% sure that his coins have all gone the legal way! Neither I nor my dealer colleagues have ever experienced buyers wanting to know exactly which way the coin they have just bought went. What I don't know doesn't make me hot? Or, if I don't know exactly, then I'm not guilty?

The only difference between Bale and us is that Bale illegally moved very expensive and valuable coins in a media-effective manner. But just because our coins are only worth 100 USD and we don't really care where they come from (or shift the responsibility to the seller) - we are morally better than Bale.

Somewhat provocatively written, I know. But I'm not throwing stones at Roma or Bale - because I think I've had enough coins in my hands whose paths I don't know.

It’s because he was actively smuggling and falsifying provenances, not just turning a blind eye. Coin collecting has a bad image and he plays up to it fully. Putting morals aside, that is the reason the authorities are so keen on repatriating. Coin collectors are an easy target people love to hate because of people like Beale.

For those of us who do care where the coins come from, it is frustrating that so many dealers don’t seem to care. I’ve asked many times for details and sometimes found they did know after all. But falsifying provenances? That is another step beyond.

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9 minutes ago, John Conduitt said:

It’s because he was actively smuggling and falsifying provenances, not just turning a blind eye.

John, i am absolute agree with you.

But, a producer of an absolutely terrible trash TV show once said, who is responsible for this crap? We who produce this crap - or the millions of viewers who want to watch this crap? I hope you know what I mean 😉 

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32 minutes ago, Prieure de Sion said:

The only difference between Bale and us is that Bale illegally moved very expensive and valuable coins in a media-effective manner. But just because our coins are only worth 100 USD and we don't really care where they come from (or shift the responsibility to the seller) - we are morally better than Bale.

I'm sorry, you seemed to have forgotten the part where he apparently entered into a conspiracy in a scheme to defraud, knowingly stole property worth over $1 million dollars, knowingly possessed that stolen property, and all of this was seemingly part of a scheme that included falsifying the provenance of an item purchased for several million dollars and attempting to pay someone to knowingly lie about that provenance by falsely certifying it. [IANAL so I have interpreted the charges as best I can and would recommend others do the same than rely on my, likely flawed, summary].

You probably can't say that about anyone else here, and it's not just because we haven't visited NY lately or aren't on Bragg's radar. Feel free to equate yourself with Beale though!

I suspect there is A LOT that none of us know about this case or the specific circumstances of how Roma obtained these coins, what contacts they have, what knowledge they have of their exact origins, etc etc. I'm definitely not going to go out on a limb and assume that when purchasing from Roma that I have the same knowledge about the origins of the items that Roma does, especially so now that this case has come to light and we understand that some of their inventory was likely not being consigned legitimately.

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2 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

John, i am absolute agree with you.

But, a producer of an absolutely terrible trash TV show once said, who is responsible for this crap? We who produce this crap - or the millions of viewers who want to watch this crap? I hope you know what I mean 😉 


Trash TV might be morally objectionable, but it's not illegal, unfortunately 🤣

I don't think even the person who bought the Eid Mar expected it to have been recently looted and the provenance falsified. Maybe they suspected, but they took the risk that it was as described as its a rare coin they wouldn't see again.

The coins I bought from Roma all had provenances. Luckily, most independently verifiable or at least documented beyond Roma's possession of them. But even if they didn't, does simply buying from Roma at face value (i.e. without cynicism) count as supporting them and encouraging criminality? Or should we all assume every dealer is a criminal and that we will be complicit if we don't check they aren't making it up?

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4 hours ago, Qcumbor said:

Sure. I think the only time I bought from them was off of Vcoins, more than a decade ago

 

Q

My first Roma purchase was from VCoins in 10-2007, which is interesting since I googled their UK incorporation date, and that wasn't until a year later in 11-2008.

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3 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

The only difference between Bale and us is that Bale illegally moved very expensive and valuable coins in a media-effective manner.

Well, no ...

The Eid Mar was just the cherry on the cake, and the mind-boggling arrogance of Beale in this case indicates how comfortable he had grown to this sort of thing, and how untouchable he felt he was.

Imagine having smuggled the world most iconic ancient coin, worth millions, into the country, then shopping it around like a stolen watch at NYINC in 2015 describing it as having "old swiss" provenance *wink* *wink*. It'd be like stealing the Mona Lisa then shopping it around to other art dealers as "found in my mom's attic".

When he was unable to unload the Eid Mar privately, Beale then decides to double down on "old swiss" by concocting this elaborate Baron Dominique de Chambrier provenance, and when called out on this lie (by de Chambrier's descendents?) then offers a EUR 100K bribe to have this informant shut up and themselves sign fake provenance papers!!

As an isolated incident this should surely be enough for Beale to be charged (if authorities aren't going to act in a case like this, then why even have laws on the books?). Even outside of the smuggling, shouldn't lying to customers about the legality of a multi-million dollar coin itself be punished?

Of course the Eid Mar case was only the tip of the iceberg, with their also being the Naxos tetradrachm, and the Gaza Alexander the Great decadrachm hoard cases (BBC documentary) as well.

Let's look at some of his business partners...

Beale's co-defendent in the Eid Mar & Naxos case is Italo Vecchi, previously arrested in 1992 for smuggling coins out of Greece.

Beale's co-directors at Athena Numismatics were Salman Alshdafait and Alman Mohammed Ramdan.

https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/07635835/officers

Salman Alshdafait was previously indicted of smuggling in 2011 (at same time he was incorporating Athena with Beale), and still at it in 2017 when he appears in the BBC Gaza doucumentary as the on-site contact and go-between to Beale.

Alman Mohammed Ramdan also has a criminal record for antiquities smuggling and in 2011 was listed as a fugitive on the run, location unknown.

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-hsi-agents-bust-international-smuggling-operation

As well as all the smuggling and criminal associates, there is also the day-to-day modus operandi of Roma in habitually fabricating "From the collection of an European gentleman" (or English gentleman post-Brexit) provenance for their auction listings. I saw this myself a number of times with coins bought on eBay then flipped a month or two later in this way.

Another indication of "the Roma way" was their response when i pointed out the prior state (which in retrospect I assume they were well aware of - presumably having bought it themselves) of this coin:

No reply to me for having pointed it out - just a weasel-worded correction to the listing.

As a coin dealer you seem to have a very jaundiced view if you really think that this is typical behavior and business associates of everyone in the business.

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Very sad news. They were one of the major auctions for me, and not easily replaceable. In my area of interest, provincial coins of Southern Levant, you simply don't have the luxury of selecting the best appealing coin out of many similar offered by auctions and dealers at any given time. Many coins are literally unique, or only found in museum collections and specialized collector may simply never have another chance to get one. Here is for example a unique coin I won a couple of years ago: https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/6/9370

And yes, I certainly understand the issue of false provenance and why it happened. 

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Posted · Supporter
22 hours ago, metapontius said:

ROMA has all of their detailed sales records (with names and addresses) going way back in time.

AND, the worm turns.  (Not you, Metapontius.)  Provenance is a double-edged sword.   You have a treasured coin which can be traced back to Sir Arthur Evans’ collection.  The find site is recorded in the numismatic literature.  Nothing prevents a national government from asserting a claim of ownership.  Your own government, as signatory to treaties on cultural patrimony, may actively assist in confiscating your coin and sending it back to wherever.

it is a common complaint that provenance is continually being lost, as dealers do not bother to include old tickets and similar information when reselling a coin.  How ironic if those careless dealers were doing us a favor.

(I know, I love provenance information as much as any of you.  The whole idea of cultural patrimony has numerous logical flaws.  Sadly, none of those flaws guarantee the information could not be used against us.)

When Roma began disbursing the Mare Nostrum hoard, they proclaimed future publication of a book detailing the contents, and no doubt the history and significance of the coins.  I feel confident we will never see such a book, not because of Roma’s dissolution, but because someone realized the book would serve admirably as an infallible guide to a nation bent on repatriating the coins, as well as an admission of guilt tout court.  

And once again the policies which are in place ostensibly to preserve knowledge operate to obliterate it as completely as possible.  

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, Hrefn said:

AND, the worm turns.  (Not you, Metapontius.)  Provenance is a double-edged sword.   You have a treasured coin which can be traced back to Sir Arthur Evans’ collection.  The find site is recorded in the numismatic literature.  Nothing prevents a national government from asserting a claim of ownership.  Your own government, as signatory to treaties on cultural patrimony, may actively assist in confiscating your coin and sending it back to wherever.

it is a common complaint that provenance is continually being lost, as dealers do not bother to include old tickets and similar information when reselling a coin.  How ironic if those careless dealers were doing us a favor.

(I know, I love provenance information as much as any of you.  The whole idea of cultural patrimony has numerous logical flaws.  Sadly, none of those flaws guarantee the information could not be used against us.)

When Roma began disbursing the Mare Nostrum hoard, they proclaimed future publication of a book detailing the contents, and no doubt the history and significance of the coins.  I feel confident we will never see such a book, not because of Roma’s dissolution, but because someone realized the book would serve admirably as an infallible guide to a nation bent on repatriating the coins, as well as an admission of guilt tout court.  

And once again the policies which are in place ostensibly to preserve knowledge operate to obliterate it as completely as possible.  


The only time 'losing' provenance helps you is if that provenance was 'smuggled out of Greece in the last few years'. Why would the Mare Nostrum hoard need repatriating? Because it was sold by people who didn't own it? It's those people who have destroyed the knowledge by taking a hoard illegally, and then not publishing the details for fear of being caught, although I agree the governments who repatriate coins are not helping by giving them no route to enrich themselves.

The provenance isn't used against you. If Arthur Evans owned it, that would help you, not hurt you, since no government tries to repatriate coins with provenance over 100 years old. But even if they did, the coin is what it is, as they could repatriate it provenance or not.

Edited by John Conduitt
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5 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

I think it's a pity - I liked buying coins at Roma. Roma often had coins that I really liked. The service was impeccable - pay - get the goods safely. I have nothing bad to say about Roma, I have only had positive experiences.

 

What I don't understand, partly in the forums, partly on social media like Facebook, is the malice or even the opinion that Roma were criminals anyway - and some users unpack the moral club.

I would bet that these users have no problem buying a coin they really want from a dealer or an auction - without caring where exactly this coin comes from. Morality then quickly stops at their own favourite coin.

Anyone who pillories Bale should ask himself whether he has done everything he can to make 100% sure that his coins have all gone the legal way! Neither I nor my dealer colleagues have ever experienced buyers wanting to know exactly which way the coin they have just bought went. What I don't know doesn't make me hot? Or, if I don't know exactly, then I'm not guilty?

The only difference between Bale and us is that Bale illegally moved very expensive and valuable coins in a media-effective manner. But just because our coins are only worth 100 USD and we don't really care where they come from (or shift the responsibility to the seller) - we are morally better than Bale.

Somewhat provocatively written, I know. But I'm not throwing stones at Roma or Bale - because I think I've had enough coins in my hands whose paths I don't know.

Well said!

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Posted · Supporter

I have mixed feelings about this. One the one hand, of course what Richard Beale did was wrong and he should be justly punished for it. On the other hand, I don't think this case will be seen, as it should be, as just being about Richard Beale and his crimes. The "ban-ancient-coin-collecting, repatriate-everything" crowd will jump at the opportunity to use this case unfairly against honest collectors and dealers. And you can't blame Beale for that.

Nobody wins.

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Posted · Supporter
1 hour ago, John Conduitt said:


The only time 'losing' provenance helps you is if that provenance was 'smuggled out of Greece in the last few years'. Why would the Mare Nostrum hoard need repatriating? Because it was sold by people who didn't own it? It's those people who have destroyed the knowledge by taking a hoard illegally, and then not publishing the details for fear of being caught, although I agree the governments who repatriate coins are not helping by giving them no route to enrich themselves.

The provenance isn't used against you. If Arthur Evans owned it, that would help you, not hurt you, since no government tries to repatriate coins with provenance over 100 years old. But even if they did, the coin is what it is, as they could repatriate it provenance or not.

There is absolutely no guarantee that will continue to be true.  A foreign government could change its laws to assert ownership of material exported 100 or 200 years ago.  After all, if it is part of the cultural patrimony, the date of its discovery has absolutely no relevance. It either is cultural patrimony, or it is not.  The date of export, and whether that export is legal, is completely arbitrary, and is unrelated to the object itself.  

As to why the Mare Nostrum hoard would need repatriating?  (Aside from the fact that I am unsure which country would get the honor,) do you think the hoard is insufficiently historic to be considered for repatriation?  I think that would be a hard case to make.  

Whether the discoverers of the Mare Nostrum hoard “took” the hoard illegally or not is an interesting question, and I suppose would apply to the laws applying to the location at the time.  For all I know, it was found in international waters.  If laws were subsequently passed to arrogate ownership of such discoveries to the state, I personally would have a difficult time accepting the validity of such an ex post facto dictat.

Not that I am advocating repatriating the Mare Nostrum hoard!  Because I disagree with the notion of repatriation entirely.  If an object is important enough to a nation that they earnestly desire it, they can buy it on the open market just as anyone else would have to do.  (Is this not in practice what the UK system does, albeit the Government does get the right of first refusal.)   

Objects which are stolen are another matter entirely.  If I burgle the British Museum, I agree the Museum has a right to recover its property.  But if an Anatolian peasant stumbles on a lost coin and sells it to a collector in Paris,  I fail to see the crime.  I think taking the coin away from the French collector without any compensation would be a crime.  

The only way repatriation schemes work is if one accepts that every undiscovered treasure in a country is the property of the government, thus its removal is theft.   Which I submit is a completely absurd notion.  By that reasoning, a gold torc excavated in southern Ireland is owned by the government in London in 1915, but in Dublin in 1925.   If the Nazis had succeeded in WWII and taken all of the British Isles (yes, I know the Irish Republic stayed neutral, but work with me here,) then newly discovered treasures would go to Berlin.  Does that not suggest a problem with this whole concept?  

My point is that governments are quite mutable.  National cultural patrimony is an absurd notion on which to assert a moral claim to property.  

What if the desire of the government is to eradicate all traces of the past?  This is not a theoretical consideration; it was actual policy in Communist China during my lifetime, and remains a policy preference amongst some more fundamentalist Islamists.  Assume your country has a cultural treaty with Afghanistan.  Do you think it would be wise to send some Buddhist sculptures illegally exported from Afghanistan back to the Taliban?  Do your notions of what is appropriate now trump the legal right of Afghanis to recover their cultural patrimony, and do with it as they wish?   Or will you return those sculptures to their certain destruction?  

The whole notion of national governments asserting ownership of every undiscovered treasure in their jurisdiction is either a medieval holdover of the rights of kings (apologies, John, but you know this is true,) or an unwarranted overreach of a totalitarian state.  There is no reason to consider the notion just, or indispensable, or even a matter of good intentions.  

If countries wish to prohibit export of certain goods, that is their right.  I would argue they are only fostering the creation of a black market, but governments are allowed to do stupid things.  But once the object has left their jurisdiction, and provided it was not a stolen good in the narrow (British Museum theft) sense, not “the government owns everything” sense, I do not believe cultural patrimony claims have any moral merit at all.  And consent to any treaties to the contrary should be withdrawn.  

 

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