Antiquities and Due Diligence: Business Models
by Paul Barford
American dealers are looking with apprehension at the European proposals to clean up the market. One, in California says
"The proposed new German law is so onerous that if Classical Coins were located in Germany, I would be forced to leave that country, or close my business."
Indeed, the vast majority of coins offered by that dealer appear on his website with no collecting history given
, and no mention of the seller being able to supply responsible buyers any documentation indicating licit origins. Perhaps that is precisely the kind of 'business' that needs to be closed."
> Perhaps that is precisely the kind of 'business' that needs to be closed."
Perhaps that is NOT the kind of business that needs to be closed. Perhaps what REALLY needs to be closed are instead anticollecting mouths vacuously and irresponsibly opened, to make foolish statements such as this, in almost total ignorance of how such businesses actually operate, and of the realities of the markets that they serve.
Any economist worth his or her salt will certify that economic forecasts need to be closely tied to actual data, and that theorizing of the sort indulged in above is fatuous at best.
Readers should understand that in his remarks above Mr. Barford is pursuing his long time hobbyhorse of advocating the requirement of a provenance history for all traded ancient artifacts.
I have previously pointed out that museums documenting provenance of acquired artifacts to the "1970 standard" are spending an average of 40 hours of curator time per acquisition assembling such documentation.
Documenting and verifying provenance in a meaningful way, even when the information is available, is onerous, time consuming and expensive. The factual data I have indicate that the cost of doing so is likely to be on the order of $1000.00 USD per artifact.
I don't think readers will have a difficult time deducing why no numismatic business such as Classical Coins could possibly operate under regulations demanding such costly provenance documentation.
For the past ten years I have endeavored, without the slightest success, to educate Mr. Barford in the realities of the numismatic trade, in what collectors really do and how they acquire their coins, and in a myriad of other relevant practicalities.
Mr. Barford has steadfastly refused to be influenced or restrained by such realities. He evidently believes that his theorizing is upon such an elevated plane as to be inherently superior to reality.
It seems to me that such theorizing is on such an elevated plane as to instead be out of touch with reality. One can find the like in public parks, where sidewalk orators mount soap boxes to preach a variety of far out theories and beliefs.
Mr. Barford's soapbox is his blog. It can seem interesting and plausible to those who do not cross check what is said there against actual facts and realities. Those who do such checking will, in this observer's opinion, find it to be deceptive and misleading.
Mr. Barford has just come up with a real classic of a blog post, illustrating better than anything I could possibly say, the truth of the remarks above:
Numismatists and antiquities collectors interested in why I view him as being completely ignorant of the realities of coin collecting and coin dealing will find that post very informative. Highly recommended.