Sunday, October 30, 2011

Article on coin collecting and Bulgaria

Last week, Dr. Nathan Elkins very kindly shared with me his article on the problems of the coin trade in the U.S. and how it affects Bulgaria. It has been very helpful to me in drafting my letter to CPAC in favor of the MOU with Bulgaria and Belize, and I encourage you all to check it out!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the opportunity to post here on your blog the ACCG Response to JFA regarding Elkins' JFA 34.4 article:

    March 20, 2010 (by USPS)
    Dear Ms. Luke:

    I am writing on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (“ACCG”) concerning the above article published in the Journal of Field Archaeology. The article portrays the ACCG and its partnership with Ancient Coins for Education (“ACE”) in a false and defamatory light. It is hardly the stuff of disinterested “peer reviewed” scholarship. Rather, it is a mean-spirited attack on coin collectors’ volunteer efforts to encourage children to learn about ancient history through actually handling ancient coins.
    Elkins speculates repeatedly about supposed improprieties, but offers not one case of any law being violated by ACE organizers or volunteers. Though the author may have his own views about “uncleaned coins” from Bulgaria and other source countries, or his own concept of collector ethics, the fact remains that there are no restrictions on the purchase or importation of any of the coins cited. To characterize the actions of ACE or ACCG as somehow “criminal” is a mindless travesty. In fact, the sale of similar material within Bulgaria itself remains both open and legal, a fact that your own editorial introduction rather petulantly acknowledges. M. Kersel and C. Luke, “Archaeological Heritage and Ethics,” (2009, Journal of Field Archaeology 34 (4):481-2).
    Of even greater concern, Elkins claims that ACCG and ACE effectively exploit children, cynically using them as pawns to support ACCG’s supposed political agenda. He states, “ACE’s activities ought to be of concern for another reason: the program is clearly being used to manipulate school children in order to promote their own private and commercial interests, especially since it became an affiliate member and ally of the ACCG in 2004.” (Elkins at 485.) In fact, the ACE program reflects the genuine interest of collectors and coin dealers in promoting a love of history through ancient coin collecting. In this regard, the ACE program merely offers more structure to
    similar volunteer efforts that share an interest in ancient coins with children. The program has been lauded and promoted by the American Classical League and has touched more than 20,000 students nationwide in the past ten years. I personally have received dozens of letters from teachers and young students that benefited from ACCG grant programs and expressed their considerable excitement over this kinesthetic learning tool. None of them subsequently bought any ancient coins that I am aware of.
    If Mr. Elkins and the Journal of Field Archaeology had troubled themselves to investigate the ACCG’s other programs more thoroughly, they would have learned that the ACCG has participated in constructive dialog with other groups interested in seeking to bridge gaps between collectors and archaeologists. In particular, ACCG has hosted lectures by the head of the United Kingdom’s Portable Antiquities Scheme in conjunction with both the American Numismatic Society in New York and the Field Museum in Chicago. Most recently, ACCG participated in a portable antiquities conference hosted by the Council for British Archaeology and the International Centre for Heritage Studies at Newcastle University.
    It is indeed unfortunate that Elkins and the Journal of Field Archaeology have themselves ignored such outreach in favor of efforts to demean collectors and coin dealers that volunteer their time and money to encourage children to learn more about ancient history through coins. Archaeologists in Britain have embraced such outreach to great advantage and have garnered the active support and cooperation of metal detectorists and collectors in this regard. Perhaps cooperation and public involvement were not the motivation behind this distressing JFA article.


    Wayne G. Sayles
    Executive Director