Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy July 4th

Today, July 4th, Americans celebrate their Independence Day and with it, their freedoms, particularly when still compared with many in the World. The continued freedom to collect ancient coins derives from our greater freedoms and certainly is not unlimited. Nevertheless, that freedom to collect has been essential to the study, preservation and display of untold numbers of ancient coins from the diverse cultures that have combined into the "American melting pot." It has also made possible funding for the few private institutions that support the academic study of numismatics in this country.

Coin collecting was once the "Hobby of Kings." It remains so in countries like Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, where one must be a favored "registered collector" in order to legally collect ancient coins. Hopefully, such a day will never come to these United States when ordinary Americans will be unable to study, preserve and display ancient coins just like Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams did generations ago.

Unfortunately, given the considerable efforts of university-subsidized academics with an axe to grind against collectors and their allies in cultural bureaucracies both here and abroad such continued freedom will not be "free." Instead, it will take the vigilance of collectors and even litigation like the FOIA case against the State Department and a "test case" about import restrictions on coins of Cypriot and Chinese type to ensure that ordinary Americans retain their "freedom to collect."

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