Saturday, December 24, 2011


CPAC and CPIA Issues Recap

by Peter Tompa

Archaeo-Blogger Paul Barford has this rather uncharitable advice for a small businessman looking for information about the ... CPIA, CPAC and import restrictions [blog URL deleted].

I've covered this area before, and here are some of the posts that hopefully will be of some help to those looking for some basic information:

For a short recap of the governing law, see:

Posted to the list by:

Dave Welsh

Unidroit-L Listowner

Ownership of antiquities

> Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy,

Vol. 15, No. 1, 01 Jan 2012 -- available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

> This new issue contains the following articles:


> Articles

> Can we own the past? Cultural artifacts as public goods Peter Lindsay

> Pages: 1-17

> DOI: 10.1080/13698230.2011.583533




This article is simply one more ideologically driven, anticollecting rote recitation of the archaeologist zealot's mantra: that antiquities inherently "belong to the public" and may not be privately owned.

The author presents this utter, unthinking, unintelligent idiocy as "broadening" the public perspective, which is about as far from the truth as anything could possibly be, for in every sense of the word what he advocates would instead be a drastic and very destructive narrowing of the public perspective.

The author further foolishly, irresponsibly neglects to address the extremely important question of how, in a global economic crisis where governments of most "source countries" are unable to fund their existing responsibilities in caring for their immense holdings of sadly neglected antiquities, the measures he advocates could possibly be funded.

Once again we see the flights of fancy into which advocating public policy measures based upon nothing more than ideological principles, without any consideration of practical realities, inevitably descends. This is ivory tower academic idealism at its most dangerous, for there are still decision makers who, misled by academic credentials, believe that such nonsense ought to be taken as revealed truth.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cyprus MOU extension

Cyprus MOU renewal under consideration - Comment from collectors and dealers is needed once again /Cyprus_MOU_renewal_under_consideration.aspx
by Peter Tompa

Fresh on the heels of its deliberation over import restrictions on coins from Bulgaria, the US State Department has now announced a hearing on extension of the MOU with Cyprus that is now up for its 5-year renewal. The Cultural Property Advisory Committee is seeking public comment on the renewal request. To submit comments electronically to the State Department's Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC), see below:

Those present restrictions bar entry into the United States of the following coin types unless they are accompanied with documentation establishing that they were out of Cyprus as of the date of the restrictions, July 16, 2007:

1. Issues of the ancient kingdoms of Amathus, Kition, Kourion, Idalion, Lapethos, Marion, Paphos, Soli, and Salamis dating from the end of the 6th century B.C. to 332 B.C.

2. Issues of the Hellenistic period, such as those of Paphos, Salamis, and Kition from 332 B.C. to c. 30 B.C. (including coins of Alexander the Great, Ptolemy, and his Dynasty)

3. Provincial and local issues of the Roman period from c. 30 B.C. to 235 A.D.

Why bother to comment when the State Department rejected CPAC's recommendations against import restrictions on Cypriot coins back in 2007 and then misled both Congress and the public about its actions? And isn't it also true that although the vast majority of public comments recorded have been squarely against import restrictions, the State Department and U.S. Customs have imposed import restrictions on coins anyway, most recently on ancient coins from Greece?

Simply, silence just allows the State Department bureaucrats and their allies in the archaeological establishment to claim that collectors have acquiesced to broad restrictions on their ability to import common ancient coins that are widely available worldwide. And, of course, acquiescence is all that may be needed to justify going back and imposing import restrictions on the Roman Imperial coins that are still exempt from these regulations.

Under the circumstances, please take 5 minutes and tell CPAC, the State Department bureaucrats and the archaeologists what you think.

How do I comment? To submit comments three pages in length or less electronically, go here:!submitComment;D=DOS-2011-0135-0002

If you are having trouble, go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal ( ), enter the Docket No. DOS-2011-0135 for Cyprus, and follow the prompts to submit a comment. To send comments via US Mail or FEDEX see the directions contained in the Federal Register Notice above. For further information, also see

What should I say? The State Department bureaucracy has dictated that any public comments should relate solely to the following statutory criteria:

1. Whether the cultural patrimony of Cyprus is in jeopardy from looting of its archaeological materials;

2. Whether Cyprus has taken measures consistent with the 1970 UNESCO Convention to protect its cultural patrimony;

3. Whether application of U.S. import restrictions, if applied in concert with similar restrictions by other art importing countries, would be of substantial benefit in deterring a serious situation of pillage and that less drastic remedies are not available; and,

4. Whether the application of import restrictions is consistent with the general interest of the international community in the interchange of cultural property among nations for scientific, cultural, and educational purposes.

(See 19 U.S.C. § 2602 (a).) Yet, collectors can really only speak to what they know. So, tell them what you think within this broad framework. For instance, over time, import restrictions will certainly impact the American public's ability to study and preserve historical coins and maintain people to people contacts with collectors abroad. Yet, foreign collectors - including collectors in Cyprus - will be able to import coins as before. And, one can also remind CPAC that less drastic remedies, like regulating metal detectors or instituting reporting programs akin to the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme, must be tried first.

Be forceful, but polite. We can and should disagree with what the State Department bureaucrats and their allies in the archaeological establishment are doing to our hobby, but we should endeavor to do so in an upstanding manner.

For more information about these issues, see:

Please submit comments just once, before the deadline on Jan. 3, 2012.


Until the Kouroupas ECA regime has been ousted and the CPAC process is reformed, US numismatists and other antiquities collectors should forcefully oppose every request for a new MOU or extension of an existing MOU, and the grounds that administration of this system is dishonest and corrupt, and that it has lost the confidence of US citizens, who do not believe its decisions to be in their best interests.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

End of the "Barford Chronicles"

Those who have long desired to see an end to this reposting and commentary refuting this insufferable man’s misleading and deceptive blog posts have at long last gotten their wish, which has gradually also become my own, See the Postscript to

Apologies to all who were bored into a coma (a state I have now also entered) by all that anticollecting bosh.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Arsonist

Focus on CCPIA: "Protrection of Cutural Heritage Treasures - Please stop it"

http://paul- /12/focus-on-ccpia- protrection-of-cutur al.html
By Paul Barford

Coin collector Bill Howden would like to see the United states "stop" its International Cultural Property Protection program, he is concerned about restrictions on the "free flow of collector coins [without documentation of lawful export] from one country to another". He urges the CPAC "Please stop it with the [...] restriction on the free import and export of coins [...]".

He says this "is very detrimental to the exchange of cultural information and experiences and will undermined world efforts for better understanding and appreciaiton of other nations, especially among the young. The free export of coins, a movable object that was often meant to flow internationally, does no harm to traditional protrection of cutural heritage treasures. It is a very different matter".

Although the joining-up of the thinking seems to be lacking, the meaning is clear, Howden does not mind people buying dugup coins without documentation of lawful export... Similar sentiments are revealed by another "member of the public" (obviously another coin-fondler):

Renewing this would do nothing but continue to infringe upon my rights as a US citizen. Why are you allowing these people to create MOU's [about the trafficking of artefacts without documentation of lawful export] that don't serve to protect the interests of the US people NOR the people who we are agreeing to have an MOU with? I can bet you that the people of Cyprus DO NOT CARE about ancient coins and other common archeological items. Honestly, this probably doesn't make sense to those making this decision, and I'm tired of typing the same message, so I'll just say that the only decision you should be making is to say NO to this MOU. That is a NO! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!


a "black market"' would involve the trading of ... well, things like artefacts removed from the country clandestinely without documentation of lawful export. In other words precisely what is regulated by the CCPIA (which the collector surely should be aware contains absolutely no measures to "curtail collecting")

Twelve days into the comment-gathering process, Frank Robinson reveals he too has no idea what the discussion is about ("there are more than enough coins to go around") and thinks refusing entry to the USA of coins without documentation of lawful export is hurting what he calls "honest dealers". That is a new definition of honesty then. Coin collector Mark McGlone posits that "Such prohibitions [on the movement of material without documentation of lawful export] [...] reduce respect for the law" (among collectors, or dealers, or smugglers, he does not say). Collector "Michael" also thinks there are enough coins to go around.

Sam Spiegel suggests, but fails to justify that "the restriction of the importation of coins from Cyprus [without documentation of lawful export] is not consistent with the general interest of the international community".

There are so many coins he says that preventing the smuggling of "the vast majority cannot be considered integral to preserving cultural heritage" because it allows "a wider audience ...] to appreciate them". And a fair number of dealers to make a tidy profit from making them available to collectors who do not really care if they are smuggled or not.

Thomas Brown who collects "private coins" does not want to see coins without documentation [without documentation of lawful export] denied entrance to the US markets this would " limit our trade with Cypriot as well as other foreign dealers". Surely that is exactly the point, to limit the contacts with those in Cyprus and elsewhere selling such material to only those able to supply responsible collectors with coins accompanied by documentation of lawful export. No? Who'd want to enter into business agreements with the other type (in other words, smugglers)? Mr Brown?


Retired administrative law judge Frank Robinson possesses incomparably
greater intellect, knowledge of the law and personal dignity than the
deluded fanatic who has here ventured to criticize him, without having any
concept at all of what the law actually mandates. Any normal person would
certainly gain such an understanding before venturing to comment,
considering that there has for thousands of years been a folk tradition that
if one does not thoroughly understand a subject one should not open one's
mouth, for evil spirits might thereby be able to enter his person and
possess his soul -- which in this case has long since happened.

Possessed by evil delusions and prejudices, archaeo-Goebbels vomits forth an
unending nauseating flood of erroneous and misinformed assertions, filled
with unjustified criticism and unwarranted pejoratives. This incessant nasty
invective far exceeds what any respectable archaeologist might ever consider
saying about collectors and dealers, regardless of the ideological
opposition to collecting he or she might feel. There are socially essential
standards of fair play and decency to observe which no one other than this
man would ever consider violating, even to a small fraction of the extent he
has. Archaeo-Goebbels might best be described as a social arsonist,
constantly seeking to ignite and consume (by the incandescent intensity of
his hatred) the structure and substance of our free society and its
democratic institutions.

By his own utterances he stands condemned as being what he himself has
warped his hateful personality into -- a deranged caricature of all that
archaeology stands for. Instead of living in the once respectable nation of
Poland [now besmirched by his presence], he should relocate to Pyongyang
where the authorities appear to be much more in harmony with his goals and


This will be my last commentary on
archaeo-Goebbels, unless something really newsworthy occurs involving him, such as his appointment to a significant academic position or (hopefully this extremity won't happen) his assassination by an equally deranged fanatic.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Freak Writer and the Taxi Cab Driver
by Paul Barford

Coin dealer Dave Welsh has a post (A Call for Action) over on the appropriately-named Freak website in which with - apparently - a straight face he informs his readers over there that:

[Paul] Barford, so far as I am able to determine, has for many [...] years [...] a hardscrabble impoverished existence, first as a cab driver and later as a document translator in Warsaw, Poland [...].

Makes your heart bleed, don't it? This is what this coiney rabble rouser (see the rest of his sad post) claims to have "determined". That's obviously the way these people "determine' something - by simply making them up and not checking their facts or citing sources. Welsh has made the claim earlier, for example ("In reality, he is presently a self employed translator and before that, was a taxicab driver"), and here: "Reality for instance might be that one may actually drive a taxicab, or translate documents, for a living".

Here are the contact details for Barford Cabs


But don't bother phoning enquiring if I work there, I do not. Neither do I drive a "taxicab" in Warsaw. Among other things, I do however translate texts (on archaeological, historical topics, culture, culture preservation and cultural property law etc) for a number of institutions such as UNESCO, ICOM, ICOMOS, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, I've done texts for most of the major universities and museums (archaeological and art collections, National Museum too) here, the Academy of Science, the State Service for the protection of Historical Monuments and a variety of other clients. That is not what I do for a living, neither is driving a taxi cab.

Of course if Mr Welsh had done his "determination" with a little more care, he would find the source of his mistaken information was a comment back in May 2009 by fellow coin dealer Joe Blazick on that classic source of coiney misinformation, the Moneta-L discussion list ("I suggest you change your profession..Get back to digging up history or become a taxi driver in Warsaw if the digging business is so not to your capabilities").


Unlike those whom he incessantly, vitriolically criticizes archaeo-Goebbels adamantly refuses to disclose any details -- even general, personally nonthreatening disclosures -- which would provide insights regarding his recent background and present circumstances. Such disclosures have contrastingly been provided by every single one of his "targets" including myself, as a routine, expected matter of being honest with the public and stating our claims to be taken seriously. That refusal on his part invites suspicion.

There is something abnormal and unsavory about such secrecy, because such disclosures are an essential prerequisite for informed judgment as to the qualifications of one who publicly comments upon past and present events and policies, in the expectation that he should be viewed as amounting to something more significant than another example of the deluded fanatics who can be found standing upon a soapbox, haranguing derelicts who congregate in our seedier public places. Such unreasonable, inappropriate secrecy has notoriously been pursued by the Kouroupas regime in the US State Department's Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau, and that secrecy has not only invited but absolutely mandated suspicion of the most searching, far-reaching character.

It is my firm belief that when any individual with a public persona (such as Maria Kouroupas has, by virtue of her important position held in public trust and confidence) refuses to allow his or her actions, motives and associations which may in any way relate to employment in a position requiring the trust and confidence of the public to be subjected to normal, routine and appropriate public scrutiny, that individual is thereby acting in a manner absolutely and fundamentally inconsistent with the essential democratic principles upon which the United States of America was founded.

No one in the employment of the United States Government, in my opinion, has a moral right to make that sort of refusal. Anyone who does is in my view, ipso facto thereby demonstrated to be unworthy of continued public employment. It is my belief that the best interests of the American people require that any and every so-called "public servant" who refuses to allow his or her actions, associations and motives to be exposed to the full light of day must be searched out, exposed and driven from ever again holding any position of public trust and confidence. The United States of America has a government of the people, by the people and for the people. No one who refuses to be scrutinized by the people and to be continually subject to their informed judgment as to performance and motives ought to be employed by the people.

According to that perspective, it is likewise my belief that what was once described as the "free world" should also be viewed by extension as having a government of the people, by the people and for the people, and that no one who in any way refuses to be scrutinized by the people and consequently to be continually subject to their informed judgment as to performance and motives, ought to be publicly employed anywhere in whatever fraction of the world ventures to demand to be taken seriously and respected by the people of the United States.

Now we come to the much more unclear question of those who are not formally employed by the people, but whose employment nevertheless essentially depends upon the people. Let's consider the highly relevant case of a news commentator or public affairs "pundit" such as Walter Cronkite, to cite one famous, respected and ethical example. Here is a knowledgeable and highly qualified individual whose views must be taken seriously. One may not always agree with those views (as I have not always agreed with Cronkite's views), but I have always taken them seriously.

And finally we come to the case of another less well-known individual, who also ventures to comment (with pretensions to having expert knowledge and experience) upon questions of high public importance and interest -- an individual who is clearly also a public personality by virtue of making such highly publicized comments, whose present employment appears to essentially depend upon the people. He describes himself as a "British archaeologist living and working in Warsaw Poland. Since the early 1990s a primary interest has been research on artefact hunting and collecting and the market in portable antiquities in the international context."

Hmm. One would ordinarily expect that an "archaeologist" would presently be gainfully employed in performing work in some way directly relating to archaeology - which could for instance include excavating, artifact and monument conservation, collection curation, site surveying and a host of other activities that in one way or another are essential (or at least important) to archaeology. However the individual in question, according to best available information and belief, not only is not so employed -- he has not been so employed for perhaps fifteen years, and when he actually was so employed he did not (according to best available information) ever hold any important position, nor did he ever discover anything of importance, so far as I or any other of those whom he so freely criticizes (many of whom themselves have held important positions and discovered things of importance) can determine.

According to normal expectations of how one should honestly describe one's occupation, he ought to describe himself as a "former archaeologist" presently doing whatever he actually does to support himself today. Instead he has carefully drawn a veil of secrecy around his present and recent employment (or lack thereof) and has misleadingly misrepresented himself as still being an archaeologist.

Hmm. Now why should the public be so unwise as to repose trust and confidence in such an individual? Would someone who needed professional guidance in other important aspects of life, such as an actual or possible legal dispute, be well advised to repose trust and confidence in an individual who had not practiced law in fifteen years, and whose record during a relatively brief career as a lawyer was at best undistinguished? Would any sensible person think of that as a reasonable or sensible thing to do? I think not.

And if not, then why should any reasonable or sensible person now take this individual, whose interminable utterances all relate in one way or another to actual or possible legal disputes, seriously? What factual, publicly verifiable reason is there to view him as being anything other than an imposter and a charlatan?

Hmm. Translators and taxicab drivers are (at any rate) pursuing respectable, socially beneficial occupations. If my impression that this individual is or was occupied in such a manner is incorrect, there is this obvious question: what does he actually do, that he is so obsessively secretive about and unwilling to disclose? Something less respectable and socially beneficial than these occupations? Who knows? Who can accurately or even approximately judge the matter? And if no one can judge the matter, why should anyone pay any attention to this insufferable man and his far reaching pretensions?

One thing however does seem clear amid all this murky uncertainty: no one presently and significantly employed in the field of archaeology does seem to pay any attention to him, other than to view him as an embarrassment and a detriment to the good name of archaeology.