Dear Readers: I believe the following article is very important to all of us. Please take the time to read.
Fellow antiquarians;January 25th, 2007 may well go down in the annals of numismatichistory as the Pearl Harbor of the Cultural Property War. When theU.S. Department of State posted a notice in the Federal Register thatrenewal of the import restrictions on cultural property from Cypruswould be considered, Peter K. Tompa (Ancient Coin Collectors GuildPresident) addressed the following concern in a letter to the Bureauof Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). "It is unclear from thenotice whether new import restrictions on coins will be considered inthe context of this hearing to determine whether current restrictionson other archaeological and ethnological artifacts will be extended."Coins had been exempted from restrictions in the initial agreementfive years ago. A reply from the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretaryof State at ECA stated that "the Department anticipates considerationof extension of the agreement as it currently exists with respect tothe categories of material." In other words, coins were not added tothe list of restricted items being considered. In my capacity as ACCG Executive Director, I then sent a letter to theCultural Property Advisory Committee stating that since coins were notto be included, the ACCG would not take a position on the request andwould not appear in person to comment during the public hearing. Inother words, a quid pro quo. I was not advised of any change inposition. On January 26th, the day after the public hearing, ACCGreceived the following notice from ECA. "On 25 and 26 January, 2007,the Cultural Property Advisory Committee met to consider extending thebilateral agreement between the Government of the United States andthe Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Shortly before thatmeeting, Cyprus submitted a request through normal diplomatic channelsto amend the Designated List of its cultural materials for whichimportation is already restricted. The proposal is to include in theDesignated List coins minted and found in Cyprus that are more than250 years old."This action is a shocking disappointment. It further undermines ACCGconfidence in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that haseroded over two years of struggling with constant stonewalling anddepartmental secrecy. Sandbagging a legitimate nonprofit advocacygroup, to circumvent an effective defense of its position, is a tacticthat sinks to a level that is intolerable. In an effort to diffuse the inevitable outrage, ECA has reopened thewindow for comment to run through the close of business on Monday,February 6. If ever there was cause for comment, it is now. Thisrequest, if approved, will not only affect ancient coins from Cyprus,but virtually all Medieval and early modern coins. Worse,restrictions would set an irreversible precedent. The aggression ofcultural property nationalists knows no limits and there is no roomleft in the collecting world for complacency. Every collector simplymust take the time to comment. The best method is by Fax to202-453-8803. Address your comments to Mr. Jay I. Kislak, Chairman,Cultural Property Advisory Committee. Please be specific and bepolite. The ACCG provides a free online Fax service for this purposeat http://accg.us/ If you avail yourself of that service, a choice ofsample letters will be offered or you can create your own text in anystandard browser. The process is fast, easy and meaningful. Our goal for this campaign is 1,000 individual comments to CPAC. Wewill need every single collector's cooperation. If you can't figureout how to comment or what to say, send a note to me athttp://us.f387.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=director%40accg.us for suggestions.Become an activist, spread the word and encourage all of your friendsto comment. This is not a practice drill.With best regards and hope for the future of our hobby,WayneWayne G. SaylesExecutive Director, ACCGhttp://us.f387.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=director%40accg.us