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Old Dec 2, 2007, 12:41 PM   #1
cogito
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Ancient Coin Collectors vs. US State Dept. Fight Hits the News

Battle over Cypriot coins heads to U.S. courts

By Rob Hotakainen
McClatchy Newspapers

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/ MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS
Ancient Cypriot coins like that above, which features the head of Zeus, left, and a standing eagle, are at the center of a legal fight.



Wayne Sayles is suing the State Department over its rules on importing Cypriot coins.




WASHINGTON Wayne Sayles, a conservative Republican from Missouri who twice voted for President Bush, is none too pleased with the Bush administration these days. In fact, he says it's trying to put him out of business.

Sayles has been collecting and selling ancient coins since 1967, and on Nov. 15, a group he heads sued the State Department, charging that its decision to restrict imports of ancient coins from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus is "a major offensive" against coin collectors that threatens his hobby.

"In a world where globalism is not just a trend but an irreversible fact of life, how can anyone justify turning America into an island of prohibition for something as innocuous as a common coin?" Sayles, the executive director of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild in Gainesville, Mo., asked on his blog.
As Washington fights go, this one's a blip on the screen. But for the 64-year-old Sayles, it's a David vs. Goliath battle, "the Pearl Harbor of the Cultural Property War," as he calls it.

Coin collectors have been livid since July, when the State Department announced that it was imposing import restrictions on Cypriot coins that date from the end of the sixth century B.C. to 235. At a ceremony in Washington, Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns said that the move "will help Cyprus to battle those who would plunder its heritage and seek to sell that heritage illegally."

Andreas Kakouris, the ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S., said that the island's cultural heritage is one of the oldest and richest in the world, dating back 10,000 years. He had a message for coin collectors: "It may be your hobby, but it's our heritage."

Sayles is also running into opposition from the Archaeological Institute of America, the oldest and largest archaeological group in the nation, with more than 8,500 members.
"The looting of coins from archaeological sites is a significant problem throughout the world, and especially on the island of Cyprus," C. Brian Rose, the group's president, wrote in a letter to the State Department.

The coin collectors' lawsuit urges the court to force the government to provide "meaningful information to the public about the unprecedented imposition of import restrictions on ancient coins of Cypriot types."


http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...ldcoins02.html


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Comment: WHAT THE HELL DOES PARTISAN POLITICS HAVE TO DO WITH THIS ISSUE? I'm about as liberal as they come, but fail to see how Sayles' politics or voting record has any bearing on whether the State Dept has bent over backwards to the archeological community. I do not consider the problem of rabid cultural repatrimony efforts to be a liberal or conservative issue.

Jeff
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Old Dec 2, 2007, 03:23 PM   #2
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But how do they even know his politics or his voting record? Did he provide it himself: "I'm a Republican and I voted for Bush, but this time he's gone too far' or something of that nature?

RIchard
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Old Dec 2, 2007, 07:57 PM   #3
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I've been following this story on all the various forums and here is my take:

There is a perception that collectors are mostly rich fat-cat Republicans and preservationists are mostly idealistic do-gooder liberals. I believe Wayne Sayles may have disclosed his political leanings and voting record in an attempt to show that this is not an issue of partisan politics. He points out on his blog that the Cyprus import restrictions have occured under the Bush administration, whereas Senator Patrick Moynihan--a Democrat--was one of the most steadfast supporters of collector rights.

Voz

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Old Dec 2, 2007, 09:26 PM   #4
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Idealism is NOT unique to liberals. Ever heard of the "Neocons"?

Jeff
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Old Dec 2, 2007, 10:03 PM   #5
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Jeff,

I was only discussing popular perceptions, with regard to the reason Mr. Sayles politcs were brought up at all

Voz
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Old Dec 2, 2007, 11:17 PM   #6
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I know. I just couldn't resist making that point.

If Wayne provided his voting record and political leanings to the press, then I guess that's his prerogative. I think it's a mistake, however, as it's not likely to help his case when the State Department is likely to change hands in 2008.

Jeff
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Old Dec 30, 2007, 09:26 AM   #7
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Coins and Politics

Four years ago, we couldn't get a story published in the Poughkeepsie Enquirer. Today, we are getting coverage worldwide. It would take a book to describe how we made this transition. I was asked pointedly by a syndicated Washington reporter if I voted Republican in the past two presidential elections. I replied in the affirmative. The reporter wrote the story. It attracted the attention of a LOT of people and had some very positive effects. It was covered in a Time Magazine Blog, in Congressional Quarterly, on the Forbes website and ran in scores of major media outlets and subsidiary feeds nationwide. In the past, we were happy to see a story run in Coin World or Numismatic News. While we certainly appreciate that coverage by the numismatic press, it is always a case of preaching to the choir.

Was it a mistake for me to say I am a disappointed Republican? Do the math.

I'd be thrilled if a Democrat got front page coverage for an ACCG issue in the Kansas City Star because he criticized George Bush's administration. You can do the math on the chances of that too.

Regards to all,

Wayne G. Sayles
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Old Dec 30, 2007, 10:00 AM   #8
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Now that Wayne replied, I want to comment...

Based on several conversations with Wayne, he has always been very clear about wanting to keep the ACCG party neutral. In fact, the ACCG gave an award to Senator Schumer of New York, a Democrat.

If the ACCG ever became "political" I would quickly cease my involvement. Obviously the ACCG needs to deal with politicians and should show gratitude for any of our representatives that prove to be "friends", but this is a far cry from party politics.

Best,

Alfred
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Old Jan 5, 2008, 10:56 AM   #9
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Thanks Alfredo;

I should, to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion, state again that the ACCG is absolutely and completely non-partisan, always has been and always will be. The fact that my personal political persuasion was mentioned in this article has nothing to do with ACCG politics and everything to do with making a story resonate with a broad segment of the non-coin-collecting public. It is crucial that we bring our message to the hearts and minds of people across the country or else we will find ourselves without allies in Washington. This article ran on the front page (that's section one -- the real cover) of the Kansas City Star. The reason this happened is because of the reference to Senator Bond (R-MO). The ACCG is a non-profit corporation in the state of Missouri and is therefor a constituent of the Senator. The support from Senator Bond (an ACCG "Friend of Numismatics", as is Senator Schumer, D-NY and several other legislators) was noted by Shawn Zeller of Congressional Quarterly who wrote an article about this issue. The CQ article was picked up by Rob Hotakainen of the McClatchy news chain, who expanded it and added the personal dichotomy. For this kind of coverage, I'd even disclose my mother's political preference (which would please the other party). I hope that most people continued reading past the first sentence and got the real message.

Wayne
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