Confiscating ancient coins

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by GDJMSP, Jan 9, 2012.


    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Confiscating ancients seems to be getting worse.

    It kind of makes me wonder where they draw the line about which coins they will confiscate and which they will let slide. Over the past few years I have read a great many stories about coins coming into the US which have been confiscated.

    It also makes me wonder if, and when, they will start searching out and confiscating coins from private collectors ?
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  3. Collect89

    Collect89 Coin Collector

    We heard about this at FUN and are still waiting to learn the whole story. Thanks for the link.
  4. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    There have been cases reported in Germany of the government confiscating from private collectors. Typically though these cultural heritage restrictions allow the coins if they can show that they were removed before a certain date and I would think that since those coins have a pedigree back into the 1960s they would probably qualify as being legal.

    This whole cultural heritage thing when it comes to coins is just a huge foulup.

    And it may not be just ancients. China has been trying to get their coins up to as late as 1911 included.
  5. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    So many problems with these laws it makes me sick.

    This is one problem I have with these laws. Why are our law enforcement officials being involved in policing what should be happening at source countries? There is absolutely no proof where this coin originated from or was found. Exactly how does one prove this coin was found in a certain modenr day country and not another? Coins were spent and transfered with the new owner.

    I seriously have no problem with antiquity laws pertaining to objects only found at certain sites, like Egyptian antiquities. They simply are not found anywhere else. However, hoards of ancient Roman coins have been found in Sweden and India, but according to the US government, they believe they are psychic and can determine where the coin was found.

    Anyone interested in any coins who aren't screaming at their local Congressman right now I don't believe cares if this happens to them in the future. How long will it be before Massachusetts declares all MA colonial coinage belongs to them?


    Edit: Btw I already have my call into my Congressman's office. I will try the Senators here, but they are both near socialist.

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    I'm not even sure there are any US laws that pertain to this. The whole concept is being driven by the other countries, not the US. It is the other countries who are making these demands via the US State Dept. And the State Dept. is then directing the US authorities as to what to do and when to do it.

    In other words, it's all being driven by politics - not law. These other countries put pressure on the US through the State Dept. to do what they want them to do, or else suffer the consequences. Want a US naval base in Italy or Greece ? Then do what we want. That kind of thing.

    What kills me is that we are giving in to them.

    Perhaps we need to go to all of these other countries and search out any and all Native American artifacts, and and all early colonial artifacts, any and all US WWI and WWII artifacts, etc - and force the other countries to confiscate them.
  7. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    Essentially our government doesn't value the ownership rights of Americans as highly as the presumed "rights" of foreigners. It's more importat to be politically correct in Washington DC than it is for Americans to have rights.
  8. Ardatirion

    Ardatirion Où est mon poisson

    And yet, most collectors in this country are more concerned about defining "coin doctoring" or controlling gradeflation.

  9. d.t.menace

    d.t.menace Member

    To a degree, I think that ancient coins of a certain rarity should be in museums in the country of their origin. But for the US government to seize these coins from Americans for a foreign country is over the top. There should, at the very least, be some compensation involved. If these countries want them, let them pay for them. It would make it a little easier to swollow.
  10. TheCoinGeezer

    TheCoinGeezer Senex Bombulum

    The NY Numismatic Show was buzzing about this but I didn't get the whole story until I read Coin World today.
    The government, as usual, went way overboard.
    Why do we keep electing idiots?
  11. saltysam-1

    saltysam-1 Junior Member

    What the collectors need to do is sell these coins somewhere other than on American soil. In private closed auctions by invitation only. What's worse, to loose $50,000 from the bid price because it didn't get full publicity, or loose the coin all together? These are high priced pieces, and to travel elsewhere means nothing to these sellers. They can always have an agent act in their behalf anonymously. The government will force these pieces into a black market situation.
  12. Blissskr

    Blissskr Well-Known Member

    Without the whole story out in the open how are some of you so sure it's the government overstepping boundaries or giving in to foreign entities? I would think there's much more to this story than has currently been publicly revealed and possibly won't be known for sometime.
  13. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    Many countries have passed laws claiming ownership of any antiquities that don't belong to that country. The UN is behind this and the US is signatory to much worse than this. For instance local police departments are now empowered to act in the behalf of foreign governments to arrest US citizens and extradite them almost anywhere. In other words if Egyprt were to declare any coin they've made before 1960 and you don't send it to them then you could be arrested and shipped to Egypt for trial. Obama signed this one last year.

    The only way you can maintain ownership is to prove it was lawfully removed from the country and is lawfully in your possession. They don't have to prove it was removed befor it was illegal to export. They don't have to prove anything except that you don't have an unbroken chain of ownership for 1500 years.

    It's getting more and more difficult to conduct business from one country to another as barrier after barrier is put up. Sure, it's easier every year for the big multinationals but they don't likew competition because the only way any big company can operate as inefficiently as they do and stay in business is to stifle competition through their buddies in government.

    At the current time most of these new laws are just being tried out. Eventually everyone wil lbe hogtied except big business.
  14. icerain

    icerain Mastir spellyr

    I really don't understand the laws when it comes to heritage items such as coins and artifacts. But what gives another country the right to seize private items from someone's collection. Are you telling me that if someone moved from one country to another they are not allowed to bring their own possessions with them? This makes no sense to me.
    Also what makes this situation worse is that the U.S. is not backing up its own civilians. If another country makes a stink about something this country will bend over backwards to satisfy them. If this coin was bought by the collector in America with American money then it belongs in the U.S. If the other country wants it let them buy it from the collector.
  15. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    But you do not understand. A country like Greece is trying to say they own all coins struck in Greece. Problem is, these were made to be traded. Maybe a person that lived in modern day Greece trade 5 tetradrachms 2400 years ago for some wine. The wine grower lived in modern day Lebanon. THe coins today are found in Lebanon, but Greece is saying they "own" them. SHouldn't the country in which they are found be allowed to decide? That is the major problem here.
  16. mark_h

    mark_h Somewhere over the rainbow

    Didn't they just recently do this with - oh - a few gold coins? I know you are talking ancients, but it does come into play.

    I do agree it is politics at play and where do you draw the line.
  17. C Jay

    C Jay Member

    We are talking about a country that's been in the news on account of their financial problems. Countries will "nationalize" anything they see fit in order to balance the books or suit a political purpose. What I find more outragous is the detinetion of Mr Weiss. Holding a well advertised auction in a high end venue is not the actions of a guilty party.

    If actions like this continue, a well organized boycott should ensure. No more cruises, no more tourism. Sorry to jump off the deep end, I'll be quiet now, just had to get it out.
  18. chrisild

    chrisild Coin Collector

    Generalizations are hardly ever helpful. What you call "the government" is basically local law enforcement officers (primarily in the state of Hesse) who seem to believe that each and every "old" coin has to be accompanied by some kind of pedigree. Well, that does not apply in Germany, but apparently it does not keep such people from investigating, and maybe seizing entire collections. Except that at some point either another branch of "the government" (state administration, or a court) decides that the pieces need to be given back to the rightful owners. See here for example; some of the introductory comments in this year's World Money Fair catalog address those issues too.

  19. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Did you read the article ? The ownership of these coins, and prior sales, is well known and documented for the past 50 years. And for the more expensive of the coins being discussed there are 11 other examples - and they know where all 11 of them are. Six are in museums, 5 others are in private hands. But none of those coins have been seized. None of those owners have been detained (put in jail) by authorities ? Why not ?

    The only reason this happened and happened now is because it happened in the US. They knew where the coins would be, have known it for months. And they knew that the US authorities would bow to their wishes because of pressure from the State Dept.

    This whole thing stinks, the whole idea stinks !

    If they decided to do so, by using the exact same principle that is being used now, any coin of any foreign country, owned by any US collector, could be seized and confiscated; regardless of provenance and regardless of proof of ownership. You could trace the lawful owners back over a 100 years and they could still confiscate the coin. Does anything about that strike you as being right, being fair, being lawful ?

    Take this coin for instance -



    I used to own that coin. I bought it completely legally from a dealer in California. And he bought it legally from another private party, who bought it legally from another private party. Ownership, legal ownership, went back for many years.

    But that coin was struck by the French govt. in 1364. It was designed and struck specifically to pay the ransom for the French King Jean le Bon who had been captured by the Black Prince of England in battle, during the 100 Years War. It is the single finest example known to exist.

    Now that coin is drenched in history, it drips history ! And based on the exact same principles being used to seize these other coins, if the French govt, decided today that they wanted that coin back, they could order US authorities to go and seize it, confiscate it from its rightful owner. And all because the French govt. wanted their piece of history back.

    Now do you think that's right ? I'm sorry, but I sure as heck don't.
  20. Blissskr

    Blissskr Well-Known Member

    Yes I read the whole article but what isn't known is why this owner was targeted specifically. I'm betting this has something to do with some other issue with the owner such as taxes or something else illegal than the authorities just wanting to seize some coins at someone's or governments behest. Maybe these coins were obtained illegally sometime after 1922 when Mussolini put laws in effect to prohibit the removal of antiquities that would certainly give the Italian government a right to the coins if they could prove it. Lots of items were removed from countries in less than legal means especially during the two world wars and I just think giving the benefit of the doubt before deciding that the government is now going to seize what ever it wants is wrong especially when for quite some time the trade of antiquities relied heavily on black markets.
  21. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    When do we start worrying, when those who disappear stay disappeared?

    By then it won't be legal to even talk about worrying.
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