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Volume 1, Issue 1 (April/May 2008)
  Is Our Right to Collect in Jeopardy? By:        Alfredo De La Fe

In the past decade or so a dangerous trend of vilifying collectors and dealers of ancient coins has begun to take root.  During just the past few years zealots have succeeded in eroding our rights. 

Legislation such as HR 1047 which authorizes import restrictions of antiquities of Iraqi origin has passed. What is most disturbing about this piece of legislation is not what it says but what it does not say. This legislation could potentially impact the importation of certain coin types because they could "potentially" be of Iraqi origin putting the burden of proof on the importer to prove that they are not. Unfortunately there are literally millions of coins which "potentially" fit these criteria.

Another recent development is that the United States government honored Cyprus' demands regarding the prohibition of import of ancient coins of “Cypriot types”. This in turn could open the door to similar requests by other foreign governments being revisted.

These are just a few examples of proposed legislation that include vague wording which pose a very real and serious threat to our hobby.

Is This Just an “American” Issue?
While the majority of legislative action has been taking place in the United States, we have seen similar actions taking place in Germany and other countries.  It is important to remember that anything that affects American collectors and dealers will set a dangerous precedent that would most likely be followed by the rest of the world. 

American collectors and dealers make up a big part of the global ancient numismatic community and any harm done to their ability to collect, own and study ancient numismatics would have devastating global consequences.   We are already seeing similar attempts at restricting the trade in ancient coins on a global level.  In January of 2007 the final German law for the implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention stipulated that Germany would require extensive provenance/documentation for any artifact with a value over 1,000 Euro.  This could potentially affect a large number of coins and it is yet to be seen what the long term ramifications will be. 

What Can We Do?
The one thing that our opponents have in their favor is that they are very well funded, in some cases some of their funding comes from our tax dollars.  As a result, they are very organized and have the money to invest in lobbying efforts.  Our best hope is to become equally as organized. 

The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG) has been in existence since 2004 with the primary mission being “Preserving our freedom to collect”.  Throughout those four years the guild has worked hard to educate collectors, our elected officials, educators and students about the noble hobby of ancient numismatics and defend the hobby’s very existence.  While a great deal of work has been done there still is a great deal more that remains. 

Now more than ever your support is needed.  Private collecting and its associated markets face the greatest threat ever.   At this very moment the ACCG is in court defending our rights to collect, study and own ancient coins.  There are several ways that you can help:

  1. Keep your membership with the ACCG up to date.  If you have not renewed, now is the time to do so.  (You can renew or sign-up here: http://accg.us/membership/join) Also, encourage other collectors to join.
  1. Donate.  Every dollar donated to the ACCG goes directly to fund projects that support and defend the hobby.  The ACCG will also be holding a benefit auction which closes on August 17th and donations of ancient coins are greatly appreciated.  You can view lots and learn more here: http://vauctions.com/accg.
  1. Volunteer.  The ACCG needs skilled individuals and organizations to offer their time and services.  The ACCG is staffed entirely by volunteers and depends on members to volunteer.
  1. Learn and share.  Learn about the issues and share the information with other collectors at your local coin clubs.  Encourage your local club to become an affiliate member of the ACCG.

  Whatever country you call home, joining and supporting the efforts of the ACCG ultimately will help to ensure our right to collect and the survival of the wonderful avocation of ancient numismatics for us and future generations.  

Copyright 2008 Alfredo De La Fe
Copyright 2008-2014 Alfredo De La Fé