Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Coins and Cyprus: what are the motives of the IAPN?

The International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN) are one of three groups taking legal action against the US State Department. Their stated objectives are (and I quote in full):
The IAPN is a non-profit organisation of the leading international numismatic firms founded 1951. The objectives of the Association are the development of a healthy and prosperous numismatic trade conducted according to the highest standards of business ethics and commercial practice.
Peter Tompa has now commented (in response to my posting where I stated, "But there is also an active lobby apparently seeking to liberalise the market"):
I don't understand why you think we stand for "liberalizing" the trade.

Even when one of the three bodies taking legal action has a stated objective to develop "a healthy and prosperous numismatic trade".

Even when the IAPN states in the legal papers that "the material sought in these FOIA requests will assist the IAPN in reaching these organizational goals", viz. "a healthy and prosperous numismatic trade".

Even when restrictions on the movement of coins (and antiquities) from Cyprus limit the supply. (And the point of the US import restriction is, I am sure we can both agree, to protect the archaeological and cultural heritage of Cyprus.)

Even when the ACCG narrative states:
The State Department recently imposed unprecedented import restrictions on ancient coins from Cyprus—requiring importers of even a single common coin of “Cypriot type” to provide unfair, unworkable and unnecessary documentation.
Even when fellow ACCG members state melodramatically ("Another Watergate?"):
The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild is the only organization actively defending collectors against the steady and insidious encroachment of legislation and regulations aimed at restricting and perhaps eventually banning private collecting.
Is the ACCG the only organisation "actively defending collectors against the steady and insidious encroachment of legislation and regulations"? What about the IAPN, or that matter the PNG, that are both fellow plaintiffs?

In any case, what is the problem if the coins available to collectors come from legitimate sources? After all, the legal papers (item 1) actually specify "other members of the public interested in the legitimate international exchange of cultural artifacts".

Tompa also claims (in response to Safecorner's posting "All the news that's fit to print?"):
All ACCG and the numismatic trade seek here is the "provenance" of the unprecedented decision to impose import restrictions on coins of Cypriot type and some transparency and accountability from the public servants at the State Department.

Wayne Sayles perhaps gives a big clue (again as a comment on the same Safecorner posting) when he says:
What is not mentioned is that collector and trade organizations support the Cultural Property Implementation Act. We honor the recommendations of CPAC. We merely asked Department of State whether they honored the recommendation of their own committee when they agreed to impose import restrictions. When they refused to answer that question, we felt that it was our right as citizens to use legal processes to force that answer.
I am note sure how the IAPN based in Brussels (and with that address --- 14, rue de la Bourse, 1000 Brussels, Belgium --- on the legal papers submitted against the US State Department) counts as a US citizen (though I realise that there are US-based dealers within IAPN).

I am also intrigued why the IAPN has still to make any mention of the court action on the press release section of its website. Is the IAPN taking an active role? Or is it just lending its name? Indeed the same appears to be true for the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG).

So what are the motives of the IAPN? What are they hoping to achieve by this court action?

Perhaps Messrs Sayles, Tompa, and Welsh could encourage their (sleeping) partners to make their views heard.

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