The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 47, November 18, 2007, Article 12


[This week the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild and two
other organizations announced a lawsuit against the U.S.
Government over the import restrictions on ancient coins
from Cypress.  Below is the complete press release. -Editor]

The Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG), an advocacy
group for private collectors and independent scholars,
announced the filing today of a Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U. S. State Department
(DOS). According to Wayne G. Sayles, executive director
of the guild, this action became unavoidable due to
persistent refusal of the Bureau of Educational and
Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide the guild and others
with information relating to requests for import restrictions.
The DOS recently imposed unprecedented import restrictions
on ancient coins from Cyprus, requiring importers of even
a single common coin of Cypriot type to provide unfair,
unworkable and unnecessary documentation.

The ACCG seeks information relating to requests from Cyprus,
China and Italy. In each case, apparent irregularities in
the way these requests were handled led to significant
concerns.  Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives
 also requested similar information on behalf of the ACCG and
others.  “None of these avenues produced responsive replies,”
said Peter K. Tompa, ACCG president.   “The reason for this
lawsuit is that the DOS has refused to provide meaningful
information.  We seek transparency and fairness of the
process by which decisions affecting the American people
are made.”

The ACCG, joined in this suit by the International Association
of Professional Numismatists and the Professional Numismatists
Guild, is represented by Washington DC attorney Scott A. Hodes.
Mr. Hodes is a former FOIA and Privacy Act attorney for the
Department of Justice and the FBI.

The imposition of import restrictions is a remedy made
available to DOS by the Convention on Cultural Property
Implementation Act (CPIA) enacted in 1983.  This law, while
providing emergency protection for endangered cultural property,
includes detailed and comprehensive safeguards to limit
overreaching implementation of the 1970 UNESCO accord.  The
fair and equitable application of this law is viewed by the
coin collector community and associated trade as essential to
achieving any measure of protection on a broad and continuing

The ACCG (ACCG) argues that fairness and equity can
only be satisfied by a system that is transparent and subject
to oversight.   They hope that this lawsuit will help encourage
the State Department to revamp its procedures to ensure the
fundamental fairness to all that the law demands.

To obtain information about membership in the ACCG or to make
a donation to the ACCG legal effort, go to
(Paypal link at bottom of home page) or contact ACCG executive
director Wayne G. Sayles by telephone at 417-679-2142 or by
email at

[Arthur Shippee forwarded the following article from The New
York Times. Here are a few excerpts. -Editor]

"If the coin collectors were to prevail, the State Department
might be compelled to shed more light on the way it makes
decisions on protecting the cultural property of other nations,
a process that many art dealers, museum directors and collectors
argue has been unnecessarily shrouded in secrecy. Among the
information sought from the State Department are documents
related to a May 2004 request from China that the United States
restrict the import of a vast array of art and artifacts,
including coins, dating from Chinese prehistory through the
early 20th century. The State Department has repeatedly delayed
action on the Chinese petition in the face of strong opposition
from museum curators, art dealers, auction houses and collectors.

"The Chinese request is supported by archaeologists, however,
who believe that the antiquities market and trade in ancient
coins encourages the pillage of important ancient sites.

"The lawsuit also follows a controversial decision by the State
Department in July to ban imports of ancient coins from the
island of Cyprus. It was the first time the government had barred
trade in a broad category of ancient coins, and collectors and
dealers were startled."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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