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  • 2016-04-17 20:09 | IAPN Webmaster (Administrator)

    Statement of Arthur L. Friedberg, Honorary President of the International Association of Professional Numismatists on the Proposed Renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Hellenic Republic and the United States of America

    March 31, 2016

    Dear Professor Reid and Members of the Committee:

    During my past tenure as President of the International Association of Professional Numismatists I closely followed the issues the committee addressed, and do so again now as it discusses the request of the Hellenic Republic. I last appeared before this committee to speak against the imposition of import restrictions on coins of Italian origin and remain of the opinion that similar restrictions already imposed against coins of Greek origin are unworkable, overreaching, impossible to enforce, and discriminatory against American citizens.

    Although I will not be speaking before you on May 24, my comments concerning the issue at hand are consistent with what I have said previously:           

    1) Import restrictions are unnecessary given that Customs already has the authority to detain, and should detain, suspect coins whether they are smuggled, improperly declared, or in the case of coins taken from the ground, stolen. In this regard, the Committee must distinguish between import restrictions and Customs authority to detain smuggled, improperly declared or stolen coins. Customs already has ample authority to seize smuggled or improperly declared artifacts, including coins. Customs can also seize artifacts stolen from museums or other collections. Finally, courts have already blessed efforts to repatriate artifacts traced to illicit excavations in another country where that country has unequivocally declared such material to be state property. In the appropriate case, U.S. Customs can, therefore, already seize coins taken from archaeological excavations and repatriate them to Greek authorities.

    2) There are significant practical problems presented. First, by restrictions in terms of the inability of the untrained and inexperienced to differentiate a coin of supposed Greek origin from a similar looking one struck outside of Greece and second, by difficulties in defining “country of origin.” Just as with Roman and Greek coins from Italy, the State Department will impose serious compliance issues on Customs, collectors, and the small businesses of the numismatic trade that import thousands upon thousands of ancient coins from the EU each year.

    Furthermore, ancient coins typically circulated far from their country of manufacture. For example, Chinese cash coins were exported in quantity from the fifth to tenth centuries to East Africa, the Persian Gulf, India, Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaya, the Philippines, Sumatra, Java and Borneo. And, because Cyprus is located on an important trade route, coins minted in Cyprus circulated widely around the Mediterranean region and even as far away as Afghanistan. Accordingly, it is impossible to determine a coin’s find spot merely from identifying it as being made at a particular mint. It would also be false to assume the find spot of an ancient coin struck in ancient Greece would be modern Greece.  While the State Department appears to have recognized this fact at least with respect to large denomination Greek coins, the fact is most smaller denomination Greek coins (particularly those of silver and bronze created by Empires such as that of Alexander the Great) circulated too.  

    Problems of identification are numerous. Even experts may have difficulty distinguishing between ancient coin issues. Greek was lingua franca for centuries of Mediterranean civilization and was the language of inscription nearly everywhere until the advent of Rome. One needs to be a specialist to tell Chinese and Cypriot coins on the State Department’s “designated list” from others that remain unrestricted and these represent a far smaller number of coins than those recently added to the “designated lists” prepared in conjunction with the Greek, Italian and Bulgarian MOUs. 

    3) Compliance costs are prohibitive, and in fact, punitive. Importers and exporters of ancient coins are either small businesses of the numismatic trade or individual collectors. Given the numbers available, the absence of pedigrees, and modest value for most coins, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for coin collectors and dealers to submit the mandated information if restrictions are put in place. Coins are typically sold without provenance information either here or abroad. Even assuming such information were retained, why would any rational European dealer sell to an American when he could avoid such red tape altogether by selling to a fellow European? And what of Customs? Have new restrictions on coins been accompanied with additional funding to allow Customs to hire the necessary experts or train its personnel? One suspects not.

    4) Litigation costs are prohibitive for most coins. Costs are such that with few exceptions, once a coin is seized the most practical decision an owner can usually make is to abandon it.

    So what will happen if the overreaching and quite frankly, illogical import restrictions requested by a small segment of the academic archaeological community are imposed? Restrictions will be unenforceable and the broader they are, the more unenforceable they will be. Collectors will still collect and dealers will still deal. Coins will still cross borders.

    What will be different is that first, much more business will be driven underground. While the Hellenic Republic has always tended ignore with a wink and a nod its endemic institutional corruption and the black aspects of its economy (estimates of the underground economy in Greece range from 30% to 50% of GDP), restrictions  only encourage some American collectors to also evade the law, as so many in Greece have done and are continuing to do with impunity. Second, some may urge US law enforcement to implement some very harsh and unpopular enforcement tactics. Yet, while a few individuals will be caught and punished, coins will still enter the United States with little difficulty.

    Much as they do now, important and expensive coins will have proper commercial invoices and new legal requirements will force legitimate dealers to try to secure the required documentation of provenance—if it is indeed available. But, as I said previously, the vast majority of coins, the unimportant and inexpensive ones, those which make up most of the volume, will move invisibly and unencumbered – in the pockets of travelers, and especially though the world’s postal services, which lack the ability, the resources and the will to do anything about it.

    In addition, there are several compelling factors specific to the Greek MOU. 

    • The governing statute requires that restrictions only be applied on artifacts “first discovered in Greece.” But hoard evidence demonstrates that Greek coins circulated extensively outside the confines of the modern Greek nation state.

    • The governing statute requires that restrictions be consistent with the interests of the international community in cultural exchanges. But restrictions will diminish the ability of American collectors to appreciate Greek culture and could greatly limit people to people contacts with other collectors in Europe.

    • Restrictions are unfair and discriminatory to Americans. Collectors in the EU–including Greece– have no similar limitations on their ability to import ancient coins. In fact, the very coins for which restrictions are being discussed in this forum are actively and legally bought, sold and shipped in every member country of the E.U. and Switzerland, as well as the major coin collecting countries of Australia, Canada, and Japan, and Hong Kong.

    • The current restrictions are already excessively broad, broader even in at least some respects than the restrictions on Italian coins. There were hundreds of so-called Greek mints. But many of them that we would call “Greek” today, and which will be found in any ancient Greek coin catalog are actually from elsewhere – eastern Europe, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.

    • There has been a trend starting with the Bulgarian MOU to impose restrictions on coins even as late as the eighteenth century.  If such a move is contemplated here, the result from a numismatic perspective is that in addition to the entire Hellenic and Hellenistic coinage of the Mediterranean basin described above, this would also encompass most of the coinage of the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman Mints and Coins by Slobodan Sreckovic (Belgrade, 2002), documents over 100 Ottoman mints during the empire’s six century existence. Yet among all of these we find less than a half dozen located on Greek soil. Only an expert in Islamic coinage can differentiate most of these and to expect a Customs official to do the same is absurd.

      In sum, CPAC must contemplate the practical impact of any import restrictions on collectors, the small businesses of the numismatic trade and U.S. Customs before considering whether to extend or even expand import restrictions on coins.  American citizens have long enjoyed collecting ancient Greek coins just like their counterparts elsewhere in the world do. Unfair, unworkable and unnecessary import restrictions on ancient coins  do nothing but strangle legitimate collecting in the United States and with it the study and appreciation of ancient coinage and culture in this country, and the contribution to international understanding that goes with it.

    Statement of Arthur L. Friedberg, Honorary President of the International Association of Professional Numismatists on the Proposed Renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Hellenic Republic and the United States of America

  • 2016-04-06 20:12 | IAPN Webmaster (Administrator)

    Please be informed of this new informative website, publishing news about rules regarding the situation of Cultural Goods, especially in Germany.

    Veuillez noter ce nouveau site d’information qui publie les nouvelles concernant la situation des Biens Culturels, spécialement en Allemagne.

  • 2016-01-22 15:33 | IAPN Webmaster (Administrator)

    The International Numismatic Council and the IAPN launch a job portal at MuenzenWoche / CoinsWeekly

    To help young numismatists find a job, the International Numismatic Council (INC) and the International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN) decided to launch a platform where vacancies and applications can be published. As publication channel they chose the internet journal MuenzenWoche / CoinsWeekly. By way of its weekly newsletter, it aims at building a bridge between university and the numismatic market. The IAPN has agreed to sponsor the new platform.

    The idea was born at a round table which was held at the International Numismatic Congress in Taormina initiated by former INC President Carmen Arnold-Biucchi and Arne Kirsch, President of the IAPN. On September 23, 2015, some 200 researchers exchanged views on “Jobs, careers, professions for the young generation of coin enthusiasts”. One problem identified was the fact that some job offers do not reach the right address. So although there are numismatists looking for a job, coin companies do not find the fitting employee. Ursula Kampmann offered to create a job portal to boost the awareness of offers and requests. This requires an easily accessible, constantly updated, internationally popular platform which is visited by scholars, collectors and coin dealers alike. On behalf of his organization, IAPN President Arne Kirsch spontaneously declared to bear the costs involved in establishing this platform, while MuenzenWoche / CoinsWeekly would be in charge of the content-related management. This way, it was possible to announce the foundation of a new job portal already during the closing ceremony of the International Numismatic Congress.

    Since November 5, 2015, the job portal is online. Anybody who would like to place either a job advertisement or a job application is kindly asked to submit his or her text via email at The text can be written in any language. Indeed, each company, each institution should address its potential employees in the preferred language, the one that is spoken in everyday work. Naturally, you may also place offers and requests with box numbers. MuenzenWoche / CoinsWeekly will serve as a facilitator in this regard.

    The International Numismatic Council and the International Association of Professional Numismatists hope that the new platform will be met with maximum international response and help as many young numismatists as possible find a position. At the same time, they ask for support of the platform by forwarding job advertisements.

    Please find the job portal under

  • 2015-09-19 20:15 | IAPN Webmaster (Administrator)

    September 17, 2015

    By Ursula Kampmann
    translated by Annika Backe

    On September 15, 2015, the German Ministry for Culture and Media has finally published the long awaited ministerial draft of the amendment of the Law on the Protection of Cultural Property. It is now available on the internet and can be downloaded for free.

    Modifications of the ministerial draft of the amendment of the Law on the Protection of Cultural Property

    Without going into too much detail at this stage, the draft seems to have been heavily revised though it still comprises some stipulations that may cause a coin dealer or a collector much trouble. To give only one example: in regards to due diligence guidelines, the value limit of 0 still applies to Greek coins, coins of Roman Imperial Times as well as coins bearing Arabic inscriptions, with these categories being mentioned in the ICOM Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk (§ 44,1). In this case, a coin dealer still faces the risk of imprisonment if he places an item on the market to which a third country later makes a claim. 

    As to the rest, we have to wait for the assessment of the jurists before we can say something about the repercussions this new draft bill will have on both collectors and dealers. 

    You can see it for yourself anytime. Please, download the ministerial draft of the amendment of the Law on the Protection of Cultural Property (written in German) here

    Oral hearing of the draft of the amendment of the Law on the Protection of Cultural Property
    It took the Ministry of Culture and Media nearly five months to also publish the minutes of the oral hearing of the draft of the amendment of the Law on the Protection of Cultural Property.

    Please, download the minutes of the oral hearing of the draft of the amendment of the Law on the Protection of Cultural Property (written in German) here

    Opportunity for federal states, community associations, experts and organizations to comment
    Associations and interest groups are given a period of three weeks to submit their written statements on the draft of the amendment of the Law on the Protection of Cultural Property. The statements have to be presented to the Ministry of Culture and Media by October 7. Then the draft will be adopted by the Cabinet.
    The parliamentary procedure will follow afterwards. The adoption of the draft by the Cabinet, however, will have set the course by then.

    Please, read the press release of the Ministry of Culture and Media (in German) here.

    Text from

  • 2015-09-15 17:25 | IAPN Webmaster (Administrator)

    Article in CoinsWeekly: New Internet Presence of IAPN

    September 17, 2015 – The world-leading association of numismatic firms, the IAPN (International Association of Professional Numismatists), has reworked its website. The new internet presence impresses with a clean layout, a fresh design and a user-friendly structure.

    Above all, the website provides information on the organization proper, its committees, its history as well as its tasks. A calendar listing auction sales of IAPN members as well as a freely accessible database of stolen coins are likewise worth a visit.

    As a sub-committee of the IAPN, the Anti-Forgery-Committee IBSCC (International Bureau for the Suppression of Counterfeit Coins) provides information about its work. Furthermore, IAPN members are granted full access to the IBSCC Archive of Fakes.

    See more at CoinsWeekly

  • 2015-07-24 18:27 | IAPN Webmaster (Administrator)

    July 23, 2015 – The ministerial draft on the new German legislation on the Protection of Cultural heritage is currently under heavy fire by the media.

    One possible reason is that no experts from the trade were involved in its preparation. Both the trade and the German Numismatic Society were left out of the preparations of the draft bill right from the start. Thus, representatives of the trade had to enforce their claim for participation in the preparatory meeting held at the Federal Foreign Office in December 2014 by writing a letter to the Federal Foreign Minister. Its request notwithstanding, the German Numismatic Society was not even allowed to attend the oral hearing of the draft bill on April 22, 2015. The key arguments of the German Coin Dealer Associations fizzle out because, after three months, there is still no publication of the minutes of the hearing from April 22, 2015, in sight so that the Ministers who will vote on the draft in the near future have no idea about where the representatives of the trade stand on this. This is all the more disappointing because Dr Günter Winands, Deputy of the Commissioner of the Federal Government for Culture and Media, has stated expressively in the mentioned hearing that coins will be regarded separately. 

    The German collectors thus intend to light a beacon that hundreds of thousands of coin collectors in this country do not want a law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage that makes the bureaucratic due diligence procedures impossible to follow, to the effect that any collecting will be rendered impossible. The new legislation must not have the effect that objects, whose provenance cannot be ascertained for the past 20 years, diminish in value significantly and sometimes cannot even be traded anymore. 

    Affected are not only ancient coins, with items worth 100 euros and more requiring special due diligence procedures, but all coins above a value limit of 2,500 euros.  

    The wording of the petition reads as follows:

    For preserving the right to privately collect

    The stipulations of the amendment of the law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage threaten the collecting of cultural objects by private individuals. This law will effect everybody specialized in traditional collecting fields, such as books, stamps, furniture, ceramics, coins, classic cars and paintings. Retroactively, this new law will impose due diligence guidelines that are impossible to follow even for the most meticulous collector. When it comes to a dispute, the law will require, by reversing the burden of proof, the owner of a “cultural good” with a value of at least 2,500 euros to provide proof as to the item’s provenance for the previous 20 years; this affects “archaeological cultural goods” with a value as low as 100 euros. 

    This is an unrealistic demand which misrepresents most of the objects that are currently traded on the domestic and the international art market in full accordance with the law as being illegal, and will result in a considerable decline in value of the objects in question.

    We therefore demand a law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage that observes the following principles:

    • No retroactive effect of the law
    • No reversal of the burden of proof
    • A clear definition of the term “national cultural heritage” and a limit to claims by the state to “national cultural heritage” only
    • Free movement, unimpaired by bureaucratic obstacles, of cultural goods which are not classified as “natural cultural heritage”, EU-wide, according to the free movement of goods
    • An appropriate participation by the parties representing collectors and dealers in the law-making process

    For centuries collectors have protected cultural heritage. Private collecting adds to national efforts and promotes the tradition’s preservation in all its variety, in a way museums alone could never accomplish. Collecting is an immaterial cultural heritage that is currently threatened by the latest drafts of the new German law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage. 

    It is important that the German government notes that this petition is appreciated abroad. Add your name to the online petition the matter of which we explicitly support. It will only take you a few minutes. You can sign either by name or anonymously. 

    So please support your fellow collectors by signing, too, and distributing the link as widely as possible. 

    Actively participating in this petition and informing as many collectors as possible is the only chance for us of getting a hearing from the politicians. It is high time that the collectors gain the government’s attention again, not just some fanatic archaeologists.

    Visit the online petition. (

  • 2014-08-14 18:23 | IAPN Webmaster (Administrator)

    Mail from Marc Breitsprecher to IAPN Member Ed Waddell (13 August 2014)

    Hi Ed,

    I have attached a copy of the “bullion coin invoice” that I developed to meet the standards of the law and thought you might be interested. I think all dealers and collectors need to be vigilant as the Minnesota Attorney General, Lori Swanson, plans on spreading this to other states….she feels it’s landmark legislation.

    Here in Minnesota there were only a small handful of dealers who said a word about this. Collectors were silent and most dealers were silent. Part of the problem was that the legislature kept the entire thing as quiet as they could and then passed it through both houses and got it signed by the governor in 3 days. There were no alerts sent out by the numismatic community and other than Gary Adkins, the ANA knew nothing about the law even after it passed. I called them and they had no idea what I was talking about. The only response came from Ebay who sent their attorneys to Minnesota with a bushel of cash and successfully carved out an exemption for themselves. Money bought eBay a voice in committee while my voice as a citizen was ignored by our “representative” Republic.

    All the best, Marc

    Download [PDF]

  • 2014-07-01 18:19 | IAPN Webmaster (Administrator)

    Dealers to reject Minnesota clients

    Posted on July 1, 2014 by Pat Heller

    The nation's coin dealers are saying no to Minnesotans. Their choice is to reject these clients or comply with a draconian new state law.

    It might surprise some that it has come to this, but there has been a long lead time in reaching this point of decision to stop doing business with people in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

    Last year the Minnesota legislature and governor, in response to what were considered a large number of incidents of coin dealers taking advantage of customers in that state, enacted what was supposed to be a consumer protection solution. That law took effect on Tuesday, July 1.

    Minnesota Bullion Law – Download [PDF]
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