July 4th is our Independence Day here in the United States. This year American coin collectors can again celebrate their continued ability to import unprovenanced ancient coins that are also widely collected in Europe and elsewhere. Yet, efforts by the archaeological establishment and cultural bureaucrats both here and abroad have already limited our ability to collect Cypriot and Chinese coins. And, despite almost 2000 comments from concerned coin collectors during the extremely short period allowed for public comment on the renewal of the Italian MOU, there is a real danger that discriminatory restrictions may very well be placed on the thousands of Americans who collect Greek and Roman coins that were struck in Italy well before July 4, 2011, our 235th year of Freedom.
So, for us American coin collectors the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs bureaucracy has become in many ways our "King George." Certainly, ECA is high- handed. It acts secretly, even refusing to divulge whether new restrictions on coins will be considered in the context of the Italian renewal. It stonewalls members of Congress seeking information that is to be release under statute. And, in its motion to dismiss in the pending ACCG customs "test case," it has even argued that its decisions are unreviewable in Court.
Hopefully, checks on such actions will ultimately come from the political appointees at State, the Courts or from the Congress. Perhaps, the freedom to collect coins is not one of the greatest of our freedoms, but certainly how government responds to concerns about fair process goes to whether our national leaders truly respect the Spirit of July, 4, 1776.