Saturday, August 30, 2008

End of Most Looting in Iraq

The Art Newspaper has reported that most looting in Iraq has ended with the improving security situation.
One would think this news would be cheered and not jeered as it has been on both the "Safe Corner" blog and on the Iraq Crisis List. See: and and

Why the concerted effort to contest the views of a former Iraqi official on the scene? A cynic might suspect that those most interested in arguing that looting in Iraq continues on a large scale fear that good news will mean that their "15 minutes of fame" is fast drawing to a close.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cambridge Academic Takes on "Mantras" of Members of Archaeological Community Opposed to Collecting

T.V. Buttrey, a well known academic in numismatic circles, posted this critique of Lord Renfrew's views and those of others in the archaeological community who hold that unprovenanced objects should be treated as illicit:

The post is particularly interesting because it highlights not only the intellectual problems with Renfrew's views, but also the fact that academics who disagree with Renfrew and his adherants are subject to being "blackballed." I have heard this before privately, but have never seen an academic state as much publicly.

Another note on Lord Renfrew. I have also heard from several sources that he has a collection of Etruscan coins! I have not heard that the collection has been published. It would be interesting to learn more details, particularly about the coins' "provenance."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Georgia on My Mind

Tom Flynn ("ArtKnows") has a comprehensive report about the distrubing situation in Georgia on his blog:

I'm a bit surprised that Saving Antiquities for Everyone ("SAFE") ( only has this link on its website: The story from a Russian source ("Interfax") reads like old fashioned Soviet "Agitprop" to me.

Georgia has a long and rich history. Recently, the Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution held a spectacular exhibit of ancient grave goods called, "Wine Worship and Sacrifice: the Golden Graves of Ancient Vani-- Treasures from Georgia." See: Hopefully, the destruction of cultural sites is not as bad as some of the initial reports suggest. In any event, this seems to be another situation where the existence of the 1954 Hague Convention meant little to the combatants.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chinese Olympic Triumph, Chinese Cultural Preservation Shame

China hosted a great Olympics. In particular, the "Bird's Nest" and the "Water Cube" made for spectacular venues. Yet, all this came at a great cost to cultural heritage preservation. Not surprisingly, nothing of the sort was discussed as far as I know in the generally positive TV coverage of the games.

Thankfully, the print media has not totally ignored the story. Enter the editors of the always well written Economist Magazine. As the Economist has reported in reviewing several books on the destruction of old Beijing, "In a few short years China's Communists have used the excuse of the Olympic games to level the medieval city built by the great Ming emperor, Yongle. Beijing was long Asia's ecumenical Rome, but its 2,500 or so religious sites are now reduced to a few dozen temples mainly for tourist consumption. The Communists have also destroyed Beijing's social fabric, cutting through rich threads of community habit, shared memory and (what always infuriated them) subversive resistance to the madder impulses of higher authority." "Going, Gone," The Economist 85 (Aug. 2, 2008). Indeed, in a rather perverse Orwellian twist, even the Cultural Relics Bureau has formed a property-development company to tear down buildings in its charge. Id.

This is sad. Some day, perhaps not in the too distant future, China's leaders will realize what they have lost. But, by then, it may be too late.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cyprus, CAARI and BOCCF- "There Is, As Always, a Lot of Hypocrisy Around."

David Gill’s post of a story about looting in Cyprus brought an interesting response by an academic based in the North of the country, Marc Fehlmann. The link to what Fehlmann said is here: (along with a lot of extraneous material reflecting Gill's apparent fixation on the ACCG and its officers). Perhaps Fehlmann, who is evidently based in the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," feels more free to opine about these issues than his colleagues in the jingoistic Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus in the South.

In any event, Fehlmann believes that little archaeological material seems to be currently leaving Cyprus. Instead, he suggests that wealthy Greek Cypriot collectors are likely buying what becomes available for their own collections. Like Gill, Fehlmann considers a lack of provenance information to suggest that the material in these collections was looted recently. Focusing on this Cypriot dimension of the looting problem, Fehlmann concludes, "It would be helpful, if those who deplore the looting in Cyprus would also indicate its consequences to the privileged few who can afford to have their collections published... There is, as always, a lot of hypocrisy around."

I am not aware of anyone performing a similar study of coins in the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation (BOCCF) collection, but it would not surprise me if most of the coins in that collection did not have any solid provenance history either. (This is typical of coins in circulation in the marketplace. Unlike Gill and Fehlmann I reject the assumption that lack of provenance is indicative of recent looting, at least for this category of artifacts.) In any event, a quick perusal of the copyrighted BOCCF website does not reveal any provenance information recorded for coins in the collection other than the accession dates.

As you may suspect, I am not against collecting unprovenanced coins. In fact, I applaud the BOCCF's efforts to create a comprehensive collection of coins of Cypriot type for display. However, given the apparent lack of provenance information for the BOCCF collection, I find it odd that Eleni Zapiti, the Curator of the BOCCF coin collection, wrote to CPAC in support of a crack down on imports into the United States of unprovenanced "coins of Cypriot type."

I also find it hypocritical for the Government of the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus to press for such restrictions on American collectors when I can find no indication that Cyprus requires a showing of provenance information for imports of ancient coins of any type into the country. (For example, as far as I know, BOCCF can buy coins "of Cypriot type" freely in the U.S. for "repatriation" back to Cyprus. In contrast, American citizens must now make an impractical, if not impossible, "provenance showing" before such coins are lawfully imported into the U.S.)

And what about CAARI? In my opinion, CAARI is the most hypocritical of all. According to CAARI's own President, CAARI was "instrumental" in the decision to extend import restrictions and their provenance requirements to coins of Cypriot type. See Cyprus News Agency, “CAARI-30 Years Interview with Gustave Feissel” available online at: (“CAARI, according to Feissel, has been instrumental in the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding between Cyprus and the US to restrict the import of Cypriot antiquities into the US, including for the first time ancient coins.”). Yet, at the very same time CAARI was arguing for a clamp down on American collectors, CAARI was also only all too happy to accept at least in-kind support from BOCCF-- and all without questioning BOCCF's own collecting practices. See generally

As Fehlmann has stated, "There is, as always, a lot of hypocrisy around."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Patty Gerstenblith Named to Obama Arts Committee

Prof. Patty Gerstenblith, a well known advocate for the archaeological community, has been named to the Obama '08 Arts Policy Committee.

The Obama platform in the arts includes the promotion of "cultural diplomacy." Though the Obama platform does not mention it, the imposition of import restrictions on cultural artifacts has been pitched in the past as an element of such United States cultural diplomacy.

Prof. Gerstenblith previously served as a Clinton appointee to CPAC. The Huffington Post Website notes that Prof. Gerstenblith has donated $2300 to the Obama campaign. See She has also donated to the campaigns of Democratic Senators Durbin and Levin as well as to the DNC. For federal candidates, an individual may contribute a maximum of $2,300 per election (the primary and general are separate elections).

Of course, Prof. Gerstenblith is just exercising her rights to play the political game like anyone else. However, I find it quite ironic that this news crops up at the very same time that Ellen Herscher of CAARI (and AIA) makes the claim (also made earlier on the SAFE website) that archaeologists don't "lobby." See: and R. Atwood, "A Critical Look at U.S. Media Coverage of Antiquities Issues" (available at: ("I also find references to the "archaeological lobby," with no explanation of how archaeologists constitute a lobby, and no references at all to a dealers lobby, a collectors lobby, or a museum lobby except the kind where you get an information booklet. A "lobby" is a fairly specific thing; you have to register as a lobbyist to lobby in Congress.").

Once again, you can certainly "lobby" in many cases without having to "register," or impacting your organization's tax exempt status-- but in my opinion it is disingenuous to claim if you are trying to influence a government official that you are not "lobbying" at all.

CAARI VP Ellen Herscher Response to Post on Clay Constantinou

Ellen Herscher has made the following response to my post entitled, "Clay Constantinou of Patton Boggs-- CAARI's Chief Lobbyist?" (see: on the Museum Security Listserve:

From: Ellen Herscher It is unfortunate that Mr. Tompa does not get his facts straight before spinning his conspiracy theories: Ambassador Constantinou very recently became affiliated with Patton Boggs and had no connection with them more than a year ago when the Cyprus MOU was under consideration by the State Department. For the record, CAARI is a 501(c)3 organization: it does not lobby nor does it employ lobbyists.

While I appreciate Ms. Herscher's clarification of one point in my post that I had indicated I could not confirm on the Patton Boggs website, her own post does raise some additional questions.

The first relates to her statement that Patton Boggs had "no connection" to Ambassador Constantinou. Typically, associations with large law firms do not happen overnight. It can literally take six months to a year for someone to join a large firm. Thus, even if Ambassador Constantinou had not yet joined Patton Boggs in July 2007, he may have been in the process of doing so. And let's face it. Having someone with Constantinou's Cypriot connections on board could not but help with "client relations" with Cyprus for not only Patton Boggs, but for CAARI as well. See: (listing awards received from Cyprus).

Perhaps, Ms. Herscher can check with Ambassador Constantinou about his start date and provide us with further information whether he was in the process of negotiating with Patton Boggs at the time the Cyprus MOU was being finalized. But the far more relevant question that remains is whether Ambassador Constantinou or anyone else from Patton Boggs helped convince the State Department to overturn prior precedent and insert coins into the Cyprus MOU. That, of course, is not answered in Ms. Herscher's post.

Ms. Herscher's statement that "CAARI is a 501 (c) (3) organization: it does not lobby nor does it employ lobbyists" also only raises additional questions.

Most significantly, how does Ms. Herscher define the term "lobbying?" Does she only define it in a technical fashion as a contact that triggers a reporting requirement under a statute or more broadly, in the common sense of the term as "any attempt to influence legislators or officials?" See:

However one defines the term, CAARI representatives do appear to have done more than just show up at the CPAC meeting on Cyprus. Indeed, the words of CAARI's own president suggest a far deeper involvement in the decision to extend import restrictions to "coins of Cypriot type" than Ms. Herscher implies. See Cyprus News Agency, “CAARI-30 Years Interview with Gustave Feissel” available online at: (“CAARI, according to Feissel, has been instrumental in the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding between Cyprus and the US to restrict the import of Cypriot antiquities into the US, including for the first time ancient coins.”). At a bare minimum, a CAARI newsletter indicates that Ms. Herscher herself facilitated a meeting between the Greek Cypriot Director of Antiquities and officials of the State Department's Cultural Heritage Center to discuss "cultural property issues." See: J. Green, "Cyprus Director of Antiquities, Dr. Pavolos Flourtzos, Visits the U.S.," 31 CAARI News 3 (Winter 2006) (available online at: Facilitating such a meeting constitutes "lobbying" in my book, even if it is not in Ms. Herscher's.

Monday, August 18, 2008

ACCG Benefit Auction a Success

The ACCG Benefit Auction netted $45,811 in active bidding against a pre-auction estimate of $44,775. For more read,

The ACCG is entirely supported by generous contributions of collectors and the small businesses of the numismatic trade. Unlike archaeological groups such as CAARI, ACCG receives no government funds and its work is done largely by volunteers rather than academics seconded from other institutions. Nevertheless, some of ACCG's work needs to be farmed out to professionals and this costs money. The funds ACCG has raised in this auction will be used to help preserve the public's longstanding interest in the study and appreciation of ancient coins.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Clay Constantinou of Patton Boggs-- CAARI's Chief Lobbyist?

As set forth in a recent post, Clay Constantinou, a former ambassador, represented the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI) at the July 19, 2007 Cyprus MOU signing ceremony during two days of lobbying for Cyprus on Capitol Hill and in the State Department itself. See:

It turns out that Constantinou is not only a CAARI trustee, but is also associated with one of the nation's premier lobbying firms, Patton Boggs. See and

Interestingly, only a few weeks after the MOU signing ceremony the National Journal on 8/4/07 reported that the Republic of Cyprus had "dangled" a lobbying contract worth $1.4 million a year to lobbying heavyweights like Patton Boggs, Qorvis Communications, Clark and Weinstock, and the Washington Group. The report noted that "Cyprus, which was invaded by Turkey in 1974 and has poor relations with its neighbor since then, is hoping to strengthen its influence in Washington, partly to counter Turkey's long-standing clout in the capital."

A review of lobbying registration databases provides no indication that either CAARI or Contantinou have registered as lobbyists. However, the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) database indicates that Patton Boggs registered for Cyprus on 9/25/07: See

As detailed in the FARA filing, Patton Boggs undertakes to provide "advice and counsel to the Government of the Republic of Cyprus regarding relations with the US Government and the Excutive Branch."

Patton Boggs retains Qoris Communications LLC and SMS Strategies LLC to assist in the lobbying venture.

Former Ambassador Constantinou is not listed as a “core member" of the group lobbying on behalf of Cyprus (though "heavy hitters" like the Hon. John Breaux and Tommy Boggs are), but I suppose Constantinou could still have some involvement on the account and that would certainly make sense given the connections with Cyprus mentioned in his Patton Boggs biography.

Here is the kicker. The Republic of Cyprus agrees to pay Patton Boggs $103,625 as a fixed monthly retainer for the period from 9/1/07 to 8/31/08. Travelling expenses are additional.

The foreign signatory for the agreement and the party to whom Patton Boggs reports is named as Ambassador Kakouris of Cyprus (also prominent during the Cyprus MOU signing ceremony as well as the CPAC hearing on Cyprus).

All this of course just raises additional questions. In particular, assuming Ambassador Constantinou was affilated with Patton Boggs at the time (something I could not confirm, but seems likely) did he and/or his partners at Patton Boggs work their magic in getting coins included in the MOU not only for the greater glory of CAARI, but also as a "freebie" to help impress Cyprus about Patton Boggs' lobbying acumen? Or, is this just all another coincidence?

One thing is for sure. High powered lobbying all to beat up on the small businesses of the numismatic trade and collectors who just want to help preserve, study and display coins of Cypriot type (like their fellow collectors in Cyprus itself) does little to advance Cyprus' greater interests in ensuring a just reunification of the Island. If anything, it just "turns off" a segment of the US population with a real interest in Cyprus and its glorious past to anything at all to do with the modern nation state and its government.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

PSEKA- The International Coordinating Committee-Justice for Cyprus and the Cyprus MOU

James Cuno has written eloquently about how nationalism has infected approaches to cultural property issues, resulting in untenable decisions. It is starting to look like the July 2007 decision to impose import restrictions on coins of Cypriot type is just the latest such example. What makes it different, and perhaps even more troubling, however, is that our own State Department appears to have lost all pretense of detachment, and instead has become a joint venturer with Cypriot interests, including, but not limited to the efforts of Cyprus and CAARI to repatriate all unprovenanced "coins of Cypriot type."

At a minimum, the State Department is an accommodating host. In particular, some additional research on the Internet has disclosed that the State Department evidently scheduled the Cyprus MOU signing ceremony to coincide with a lobbying effort by Cypriot groups on Capitol Hill and in the State Department itself. See:,, and

According to the above "Justice for Cyprus" Press release, dated July 17, 2007:

A delegation from New York, New Jersey and Chicago will be visiting Capitol Hill and hold key briefings of both Republican and Democratic Freshmen members on the Cyprus issue, and the State Department, will be held July 18-19. Special attention will be given to the destruction of churches in the occupied areas.The meetings on July 18 and 19, will include a roundtable working lunch with over 25 key Senators and Members of Congress, including the Chairmen of the Committees and Subcommittees that formulate U.S. policy for the region, as well as briefings of both Republican and Democratic Freshmen members on the Cyprus issue. These leaders will also be attending a ceremony at the Department of State.

The State Department "ceremony" is not described specifically. However, it can only be the MOU signing ceremony that took place on July 19, 2007. The guest list for the event (produced in the FOIA litigation against State) apparenly lists members of the lobbying delegation, including several representatives of PSEKA. That Clay Constantinou, a former US Ambassador identified as representing CAARI, was also present suggests some similar involvement. Perhaps, a CAARI representative was also involved in this and in the earlier May lobbying effort when Burns received the Livanos award. Certainly, the words of CAARI's own president suggest as much. See Cyprus News Agency, “CAARI-30 Years Interview with Gustave Feissel” available online at: (“CAARI, according to Feissel, has been instrumental in the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding between Cyprus and the US to restrict the import of Cypriot antiquities into the US, including for the first time ancient coins.”).

And what of "Justice for Cyprus/PSEKA," the group that evidently helped coordinate both the May and July 2007 events? It turns our that "Justice for Cyprus" is the entitiy that actually awarded Burns the "Livanos Award." See: and

Signficantly, "Justice for Cyprus" appears to have at least a semi-official link with the Greek Cypriot Government:

The International Coordinating Committee "Justice for Cyprus", also known as PSEKA, was founded in 1975 by the late President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios. The organizatio, with headquarters in Nicosia, Cyprus, has chapters all over the world. Its North American headquarters are located in New York City. Today PSEKA is staffed by professionals and volunteers working together in cities all over the United States and Canada. Over the last 2 years, PSEKA and its Board of Directors has begun a push via the Internet, to raise awareness over the plight of the people of Cyprus.


So let's try to connect the dots. As described in a prior post, CAARI works behind the scenes with State Department staff to get coins included in the renewal even before Cyprus makes a formal request. See:

After that effort fails when CPAC declines to recommend extending import restrictions to coins of Cypriot type, enter PSEKA. "Justice for Cyprus/PSEKA" then helps CAARI and the Cypriot embassy to change existing precedent by lobbying Undersecretary Burns directly, including by providing him with the Livanos award. See Just days later, Dina Powell, the decision maker (and a subordinate of Burns) is given a "false choice" whether to include coins in the MOU or let the current MOU expire in its entirety.

Then, close the circle at the Cyprus MOU signing ceremony which is in itself folded into a larger lobbying effort on behalf of Cyprus directed largely at Turkey.

While one must admit that all this is based on an educated guess, it would seem to be a probable scenario, and one that would certainly explain the State Department's persistent stonewalling in the pending FOIA litigation.

If State has nothing to hide, why not just produce all relevant documents?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Archer Huntington Coins to be Sold

Sebastian Heath has reported on the upcoming sale of Archer Huntington's coins that had been on long term loan to the American Numismatic Society from the Hispanic Society. See:

I'm sure some collectors and dealers will welcome the prospect of a large group of coins with old provenances onto the market, but as an ANS Trustee and collector that believes that deacession should be limited to sales of duplicates or items outside the interests of an institution, I find this sale to be troubling.

In particular, it's unclear to me whether the Hispanic Society really has taken all the necessary steps to get its own house in financial order before taking this precipitous step of selling off an important part of its collection.

One thing is for sure. Collections like these can't easily be purchased in today's market by institutions like the ANS. In that sense, selling off this collection is a real shame to anyone who loves museums and what they stand for.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Nicholas Burns "The Philhellene," Cultural Politics and the Controversial Decision to Impose Import Restrictions on Coins of Cypriot Type

Did then Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns order the controversial decision to impose import restrictions on coins of Cypriot type as a "thank you" to a coalition of Greek and Greek Cypriot lobbying groups called "the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes" or "CEH"which had given him an award? As venal as that sounds, it seems to be a distinct possibility based on the close proximity in time between receipt of the award and the making of the decision. Pending a meaningful release of relevant documents in the ongoing FOIA litigation brought by several numismatic groups against the State Department, members of the numismatic community cannot help but suspect the worst.

It's been a vexing mystery why in July 2007 the State Department overturned a prior decision to exempt coins from import restrictions on Cypriot cultural artifacts. Certainly, there was no material change in the underlying facts that recommended changing existing precedent when the issue was raised unexpectedly (for coin collectors at least) at the January 2007 CPAC hearing to discuss the renewal itself. If anything, a good case could have been made for ending all restrictions. After all, the Greek Cypriot state could be viewed as culpable for its own looting problems. The Greek Cypriots have always claimed that restrictions are necessary because Greek Cypriot police cannot protect archaeological sites on the Turkish side of the Island. However, the Greek Cypriot State has received much of the blame for the continued division of the Island. Certainly, the Greek Cypriots were the ones that voted down the UN sponsored Annan Plan aimed at attempting to reunify the Greek and Turkish communities. See

This weblog and other collector-oriented blogs and web sites have discussed the apparent coordination between the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CARRI) and staff of the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) "Cultural Heritage Center" about the inclusion of coins even before Cyprus made its late request to the State Department. See

Yet, this early, behind the scenes coordination at a relatively low level does not in itself help explain why the State Department ultimately departed from prior precedent, particularly if as has been long suspected, the decision was made against the recommendations of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC), the body of experts charged to provide the decision maker in the State Department with advice on the issue of whether and to what extent to impose import restrictions.

It may not be easy to justify overturning existing precedent, but if you are powerful enough even the recommendations of an advisory body like CPAC might not matter. Former Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns certainly fits the bill. As the third ranking official in the State Department (and former ambassador to Greece), he presumably could dispense with such precedent and recommendations with the wave of the hand. See

Burns certainly has had a public role in the Cypriot coins saga. He was the "MC" at the Cyprus MOU signing ceremony. That signing ceremony can be characterized as little more than a paean to Greek Cypriot jingoism with officials of our own State Department-- notably Undersecretary Burns--acting as the chorus. See That Cultural Heritage Center head Maria Kouroupas apparently stage managed Greek Cypriot Ambassador Andreas Kakouris' remark about coins that "It may be your hobby, but it's our heritage!" only underscores suspicions that nationalism rather than the real protection of Cyprus' archaeological heritage was the prime motivating factor for the exercise. See If not, why were the restrictions phrased as on "coins of Cypriot type" rather than as restrictions on ancient coins of any type traced back to archaeological sites on the Island?

In any event, it now turns out that the State Department may have agreed to unprecedented restrictions on ancient coins as a "thank you" for an award Burns received from the CEH. On or about May 16-18, 2007, Burns received CEH members as well as Kakouris at a meeting at the State Department. There, Burns was awarded the CEH's "Livanos award" See According to CEH, "Undersecratary of State Nicholas Burns was the first Philhellene to receive the Livanos Award. This award is given each year to, as its states on the award, 'that individual who, like George P. Livanos, has utilized ancient Hellenic values to realize extraordinary achievement in modern society while contributing to the improvement of our civilization.'"

Burns received his award sometime during "the 23rd Annual Cyprus, Hellenic and Orthodox Issues Conference" from May 16-18, 2007. Just days later-- on May 29, 2007-- the State Department decision maker-- Dina Powell-- was given a false choice as to whether to include coins of Cypriot type in the MOU renewal or to end all restrictions. See

At a minimum, one cannot but help wonder about the coincidence. Despite FOIA requests designed to get at the truth of the matter, ECA has to date continued to stonewall efforts to learn the reasons for the controversial decision to impose import restrictions on coins of Cypriot types. Hopefully, a pending FOIA lawsuit will shed further light on the issue whether our own State Department sold out American coin collectors and its own CPAC-- and all because an award given to Undersecretary Burns. If so, the price for betrayal of the interests of American coin collectors and likely the State Department's own CPAC was quite low indeed.

Jay Kislak and CPAC -- An Appreciation

Jay Kislak, the current CPAC chair, is evidently stepping down from his position.

This was put up on the White House Web Site on 7/15, but I only recently became aware of it:

The President intends to appoint the following individuals to be Members of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, for the remainder of three-year terms expiring 04/25/10:

Ronald R. Hall, of Texas (International Sales Expert)
David B. Jones, of Texas (Public)
James Lorand Matory, of Massachusetts (Anthropology)

Messrs. Jones and Hall are new to CPAC. Professor Matory is a current member.

David B. Jones is evidently the managing partner of Dini Partners, a management consulting firm in Houston. You can read more about it here:

Ronald R. Hall is president of Hall Galleries, which appears to deal in paintings. He is apparently replacing Meredith J. Long in one of the CPAC "dealer slots."

As the other public member (Winton Holladay) is a recent appointee, Mr. Kislak must be stepping down from his position as a "public" member and as CPAC chair. Who will take on the position of CPAC Chair will be of interest.

Jay Kislak is probably best known for his service as a naval aviator in WWII, his successful career in real estate and his extremely generous contributions to the Library of Congress. See: However, anyone interested in CPAC and how it operates can't but also appreciate Mr. Kislak's efforts to bring a level of transparency and fairness of process to CPAC's proceedings. He will be much missed in his role as Chairman. I'm afraid it may be quite some time before anyone else in that position tries to take on the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) bureaucracy. Yet, if anything, the need is even greater today given the apparent predisposition of the ECA to view the process as nothing more than a rubber stamp for the imposition of the broadest import restrictions possible.

Monday, August 4, 2008

ACCG Benefit Auction Online

The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG) is auctioning off donated ancient coins and other items. The auction can be found at this link:
The proceeds will help fund legal and other efforts designed to help ensure that ancient coin collecting remains a viable hobby that everyone can enjoy into the future.

Those agitating for import restrictions that will strangle the hobby are mostly archaeologists associated with universities. Educational institutions in effect subsidize their efforts. ACCG lacks that advantage. While ACCG does rely on the time and efforts of volunteers, unfortunately professional assistance is also required. This costs money. Hence, ACCG needs your help in converting ancient coins into modern dollars to help carry out its work.

By way of full disclosure, I am the immediate past president of ACCG and remain as a board member.

The auction opened today and is due to close on August 17th. This is a charity auction. Hopefully, anyone interested in supporting ACCG will make strong bids with that in mind.