Re: Memorandum of Understanding between the Republic of Italy and the United States
Dear Prof. Reid and Members of the Committee:
Società Numismatica Italiana (Italian Numismatic Society) is the most prestigious and longest serving numismatic association still active in Italy.Società Numismatica Italiana was created in 1892 under the presidency of Francesco Gnecchi, who together with his brother Ercole, have been two of the most famous Italian numismatist. Among the Society’s founders was also the Prince of Naples, the future King of Italy Victor Emmanuel III.Among its other illustrious members, presidents and councilors of the Society, Count Niccolò Papadopoli, Prof. Serafino Ricci, Raffaele Castellani, Oscar Ulrich-Bansa, Prof. Panvini-Rosati and Athos Moretti can be mentioned. Several of these names are historical numismatists figures also recorded and celebrated in the specially dedicated Numismatists’ Hall of Fame preserved at the numismatics section of the Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
All international numismatic congresses, since the establishment of this institution, have seen the active participation of the Society (Paris in 1900, Bruxelles in 1909, London in 1936, Rome in 1961, New York in 1973, etc.). Likewise, the Society maintained strong ties, in its early days, with public institutions, such as the Ministry of Education, to assist in the re-organization of important public collections, suggesting the cataloging criteria of public collections for the benefit of scholars and visitors alike.
The Society has always been an advocate of independent research and its review (Rivista di Numismatica and Scienze Affini – RIN) is today one of the oldest serving numismatics reviews still active in the world, having started its publications in 1888 (a few years before the Society itself was effectively founded).
Finally, the Society has regularly been promoting conferences and seminars dedicated to specific themes, like the celebrations for the first centenary of Corpus Nummorum Italicorum, the catalogue composed by twenty in-folio volumes, of the collection of King Victor Emmanuel III, the only example of a complete catalogue of the entire series of coins produced by a nation.
With its long standing tradition and also conveying the sentiment of its affiliates, the Society today advises this Honorable Committee to reject the restrictions to the importation of Italian coins in the name of the free trade principle that regulates trade flows within the EU as well as most countries in the world.
It is precisely with the free exchange of goods, of ideas, of initiatives and of cooperation between institutions, that the cultural progress of numismatics has been made possible and that it has grown to today’s sophisticated standards and reach.Moreover, it is to be reminded that most of the public collections that we can today admire and study in museums, have been the heritage of private ones, formed over decades, in some cases centuries, by individuals and families who devoted precious resources to their search and formation. Had a ban on the commerce of ancient coins been raised, that would have, de facto, hindered their making with a fatal detriment to the cultural treasures we can share and enjoy today.
With our most respectful regards,
Ing . Ermanno Winsemann Falghera
President of the Società Numismatica Italiana