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BRITARCH  August 2008

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Subject:

Re: Archaeology's limits thread, etc

From:

Dave Welsh <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 23 Aug 2008 08:03:40 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (131 lines)

> PAS’s advice is perfectly practicable and achievable. It simply says -
either be SURE or DON’T BUY!  

PAS's advice however does not say "be able to conclusively prove in a court
of law." There is a vast difference between such an affirmative and onerous
responsibility, and ordinary sensible avoidance of "tainted artifacts." Like
all ethical dealers and collectors, I make every possible effort to avoid
acquiring anything that might reasonably be suspected of being illicitly
excavated or smuggled. In doing so, I avoid many acquisition opportunities
which I believe that a court of law, or those who operate the PAS, would
conclude were perfectly licit.

> ... what sort of business are you running??

An ethical business, whose real goal is to help and to serve collectors, and
to practice the interesting science of numismatics, rather than making a
profit. 

> There is a significant ethical and practical gulf between PAS’s advice to
be “sure” and your concept of “reasonable efforts” ...

There is a significant ethical and practical gulf between your words and
what I perceive to be the real intent of the PAS and its advice.

> ... through which every nighthawked British artefact passes to
less-than-fully-careful collectors or dealers.

Here I believe it would be worthwhile to read your definition of a "fully
careful" collector or dealer. Perhaps that would help to avoid the
misconceptions that appear to be plaguing this discussion.

> Despite your previous total misunderstanding of the legal status of PAS’s
advice ...

That's quite an astonishing inductive leap. I would be interested to know
your precise grounds, with full citations of your sources, for making such
an extreme and in my opinion entirely unjustified statement.

> ... there are NO geographical or economic reasons not to comply FULLY with
the ethical advice of an organisation you consider a world exemplar.

1) I do not consider the PAS to be a world exemplar in setting standards of
ethics. I have made no such statement. My reasons for thinking that the
PAS/Treasure law together comprise the best antiquities legislation yet
enacted are solely based upon their practical merits. This system works,
while others do not.

2) There indeed are very significant geographical and economic reasons to
limit one's voluntary efforts to comply with published advice of the PAS
regarding acquisitions, to that which is practically possible. Nor do I have
any reason to imagine that the PAS intended to ask anyone to go beyond that
which is practically possible.

3) I am gaining the impression that you are putting words into the mouth of
the PAS, i.e. that you presume to speak for the PAS and to be the arbiter of
what statements made by the PAS mean. Would you please state your
credentials to do that? Are you among the founders of the PAS system? How
did you come to know what those who did found the PAS, and who do
authoritatively speak for the PAS, actually meant when they wrote the advice
that you refer to?

4) To assist in clarifying this discussion, perhaps you would be so good as
to state exactly what you imagine that FULLY complying with the advice of
the PAS requires me to do, before acquiring an antiquity from a collector or
at a public sale here in the USA? 

> So come along Mr Welsh you don’t have to wait until PAS is a worldwide
standard before you apply PAS’s ethical standards to your purchases in
Britain.

I do not make artifact purchases in Britain. I have never acquired an
artifact in Britain, and do not ever expect to do so. 

I travelled to Britain on a few occasions about fifteen years ago, for
reasons that had nothing to do with antiquities (they were instead connected
with the aviation industry) and perhaps I should say that this was a very
interesting and enjoyable experience. I visited Portsmouth, where I had an
opportunity to see the remains of the Mary Rose, which fascinated me because
I was among those who helped to fund that project. The best meal I have ever
had outside the USA was, surprisingly, at an English public house, the
"Gamekeeper" I believe, not far from Basingstoke outside London (and I have
dined at some well regarded establishments in France). I also came to have a
great impression of British "old and bitter."

> You have run out of excuses.

I have not made, nor sought to make, excuses. I have instead presented my
views upon this subject in a manner intended to make my position clear to
listreaders capable of forming rational judgements.

Dave Welsh
Unidroit-L Listowner
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Unidroit-L
[log in to unmask]




-----Original Message-----
From: British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
On Behalf Of Nigel Swift
Sent: Saturday, August 23, 2008 12:07 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Archaeology's limits thread, etc


Dave Welsh said - 
"a sincere but still reasonable effort to ensure that one does not acquire
anything illicitly exported from the UK is all that is practically feasible
at the moment."
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Oh! That really shouldn't go unchallenged, especially here. It is patently
not the case, as PAS and numerous ethical British and overseas collectors
will attest.  PAS’s advice is perfectly practicable and achievable. It
simply says - either be SURE or DON’T BUY!  If that causes difficulties for
your business, what sort of business are you running??

There is a significant ethical and practical gulf between PAS’s advice to be
“sure” and your concept of “reasonable efforts” through which
every nighthawked British artefact passes to less-than-fully-careful
collectors or dealers. How else do you suppose nighthawks find willing
purchasers?

Despite your previous total misunderstanding of the legal status of PAS’s
advice, there are NO geographical or economic reasons not to comply
FULLY with the ethical advice of an organisation you consider a world
exemplar. So come along Mr Welsh you don’t have to wait until PAS is a
worldwide standard before you apply PAS’s ethical standards to your
purchases in Britain. Do it now. You have run out of excuses. 

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