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ANCIENT COIN COLLECTORS GUILD

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  • January 10, 2023 9:39 AM | Randolph Myers (Administrator)

    On January 10, 2023, the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild joined by the American Numismatic Association, filed comments with the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, to object to proposed MOUs with the Governments of North Macedonia and Uzbekistan, as it applied to the  import restriction of ancient coins.  While the public notice was published in the Federal Register on December 21, 2022, the CPAC’s website failed to state that they were considering import restrictions on coins until January 2, 2023. 

    Our comments raised a number of procedural and substantive objections.  Our procedural objections complained that the public notice was untimely, vague and inadequate, which effectively denied the public the ability to submit meaningful comments.  Our substantive objections focused on the Cultural Property Implementation Act, where we argued that ancient coins did not qualify as artifacts of “cultural significance,” that ancient coinage cannot be assumed to have been “first discovered within” and “subject to the export control” of the two counties, that other available “less drastic remedies” existed, that neither country submitted a statement of facts for the CPAC’s “determination,” and that coins minted after 1773 cannot be restricted since the Act requires objects be “at least two hundred and fifty years old.”  

    Our full comments can be found here:

    ACCG and ANA comments objecting to North Macedonia coin restrictions RMyers 1.10.2023.pdf

    ACCG and ANA comments objecting to Uzbekistan coin restrictions RMyers 1.10.2023.pdf

    Written comments on the proposed MOUs with North Macedonia and Uzbekistan must be received by January 23, 2023 at http//www.regulations.gov, enter docket DOS-2022-0048, then follow the prompts.

  • December 16, 2022 9:36 AM | Peter Tompa (Administrator)

    On December 15, 2022, the Smithsonian Institution partially granted our Freedom of Information Act administrative appeal and provided us with a list of organizations that participated in a March 2021 online Workshop to train US law enforcement "to combat trafficking in ancient coins."   Back on May 4, 2021, the ACCG filed a FOIA administrative appeal, after the Smithsonian withheld all 37 pages of responsive materials.  In our FOIA request we sought to shine light on the identity of participating organizations, what was being taught, and whether there was any suggestion that just because a coin was unprovenanced it should be treated as “stolen,” an inaccurate assumption that is being made by proponents of import restrictions on coins.  While the Smithsonian’s FOIA appeal decision declined to provide us with the training material as law enforcement sensitive, it did provide us with the list of participating organizations to the Workshop.  The invited organizations included the American Numismatic Society, Baylor University and Shenyang Financial Museum from the People’s Republic of China, but did not include the American Numismatic Association, the International Association of Professional Numismatists, the Professional Numismatists Guild, the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild or other collector groups.  This unfortunately ensured that Customs officials received information only from those entities and individuals who have advocated for broad import restrictions on coins in the past. 

    Responsive document.pdf


  • November 17, 2022 9:16 AM | Randolph Myers (Administrator)

    On November 15, 2022, the ACCG filed another Freedom of Information Act administrative appeal, this time for Customs and Border Protection’s refusal to produce any documents regarding three coin seizure incidents.  Based on CBP’s earlier production to us of seized asset spreadsheets, our FOIA request centered on 24 coin seizure incidents, which was later reduced to nine incidents to avoid duplication.  After CBP referred our FOIA request for six of the incidents to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their response to us, the CBP then declined to produce any documents regarding their own three coin seizure incidents by asserting various FOIA Exemptions. 

    Our FOIA administrative appeal argues that the CBP's denial violates their own regulations and that the FOIA Exemption withholdings was erroneous.  We also argue that the CBP failed to abide by FOIA’s requirement to provide “reasonably segregable” documents, since they could have produced the documents with limited redactions.  We are concerned that the CBP’s FOIA blanket denial basically allows the CBP to seize property secretly, without an administrative or judicial forfeiture, while denying the public’s ability to know of the agency’s actions.  It would defeat the very purpose of FOIA, which the Supreme Court states is intended to give citizens the means to know “what their Government is up to," which is “a structural necessity in a real democracy."  Besides our FOIA administrative appeal, the ACCG has also filed a request to the Office of Government Information Services, which offers dispute resolution services between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies.


  • November 07, 2022 10:49 AM | Randolph Myers (Administrator)

    On November 7, 2022 the ACCG submitted comments regarding the Draft UNESCO Model Provisions on the Prevention and Fight against the Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property.  Besides joining the comments of International Federation of Art and Antique Dealer Associations and the International Association of Professional Numismatists, we wrote separately to emphasize several points as applied to ancient coins.  Specifically, we commented that it was unreasonable and unrealistic to require export certificates for ancient coins or to require licenses for coin dealers, that the United Kingdom’s Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme provides a more positive and reasonable alternative regulatory approach at least as for ancient coins, and that there is a need for better meaningful consultation in developing the Draft UNESCO Model Provisions.

  • October 19, 2022 2:49 PM | Randolph Myers (Administrator)

    On October 17, 2022, we submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to Customs and Border Protection, for the glossary to explain their SEACATS spreadsheet column headings and designations.  SEACATS stands for “Seized Asset and Case Tracking System” and details seizures of property by Federal agencies like the CBP.  This FOIA request occurred after we earlier won a FOIA administrative appeal decision on September 30, 2022, when CBP provided us with a 13-page partially redacted SEACATS spreadsheet on their seizure of various items.  But while the SEACATS spreadsheet listed 53 incidents where CBP seized coins between 2009 and 2021, their spreadsheet contained cryptic column headings and cryptic two and three letter designations that are unintelligible to the layman.  In the meantime, however, we reached out to the Institute for Justice, at ij.org, a nonprofit public interest law firm that focuses on exposing government abuses and securing constitutional rights.  The Institute, who earlier engaged in a multiyear legal battle with CBP for the SEACATS data codes, provided us with one of their reports which explained many of the SEACATS data codes.  Now that we have most of the data codes and a better understanding of SEACATS list of CBP’s seizures, we plan to further examine the circumstances and outcomes of past CBP coin seizures.

  • October 02, 2022 4:55 PM | Randolph Myers (Administrator)

    On September 30, 2022, the ACCG won its Freedom of Information Act administrative appeal, were we sought documents from Customs and Border Protection, on the creation and enforcement of the Designated Lists of import restricted ancient coins of ten nations.  Back on February 5, 2022 Customs and Border Protection had responded to our FOIA requests that they had "no documents."  We then filed a FOIA administrative appeal that contended that their response was factually inaccurate and that they failed to conduct a thorough and reasonable search.   In upholding our FOIA administrative appeal on September 30, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security’s FOIA Appeals, Policy & Litigation Branch informed us that responsive documents did exist.  As for our request for documents on the creation of Designated Lists, they provided us with 66 pages of partially redacted records, while explaining that their agency only engaged in a “ministerial” function of publication in the Federal Register, and that it was “the State Department, through the Cultural Property Committee, [that] creates the Designated Lists.”   As for our request for documents on the enforcement of Designated Lists, they provided us with 13 pages of partially redacted spreadsheets from their Seized Assets and Case Tracking System (SEACATS), that identified fifty incidents between 2009 to 2021 where they seized coins, most of which were “antique.”  


  • August 05, 2022 3:23 PM | Peter Tompa (Administrator)

    Find out more about who said what at a recent Cultural Property Advisory Committee meeting to discuss a proposed renewal of a MOU with Libya.  

    http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/2022/07/summary-of-july-26-2022-cultural.html

  • July 17, 2022 3:35 PM | Peter Tompa (Administrator)

    Effective July 14, 2022, the designated list for Cypriot coins was amended to include Byzantine and later coins that "circulated primarily" within Cyprus.  For details, see http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/2022/07/cypriot-designated-list-expanded.html

  • July 07, 2022 9:05 AM | Randolph Myers (Administrator)

    On July 7, 2022 the ACCG filed comments with the Cultural Property Advisory Committee objecting to the proposed MOU with Libya as it impacts the importation of ancient coins  We raise one procedural objection, and five substantive objections, why import restrictions should not include ancient coins, except to the extent that it is an artifact that has been identified as looted from one of Libya’s World Heritage sites.   Details may be found here:

    https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DOS-2022-0015-0002

  • April 14, 2022 8:31 AM | Randolph Myers (Administrator)

    On April 14, 2022 the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild filed comments with the Cultural Property Advisory Committee objecting to the proposed MOU with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as it impacts the importation of ancient coins.  We raise two procedural objections, and five substantive objections, why import restrictions should not include ancient coins.   Our comments can be found here:

    ACCG comments to CPAC on proposed restriction of Pakistan ancient coins (RMyers 4.13.2022).pdf

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