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The Unidroit Convention:  
Background and interpretation:
A Collector's Perspective: 
Problems Collectors can face:

What is the Unidroit Convention?

The Unidroit Convention (1995) is an international agreement for the return of stolen or illegally exported "cultural objects." It includes among the items defined as "cultural objects:"
(e) antiquities more than one hundred years old, such as inscriptions, coins and engraved seals
(i) postage, revenue and similar stamps, singly or in collections

An important provision of this convention defines any object that has been excavated or otherwise discovered and not reported to authorities, contrary to the law of the State in which it is discovered, as "stolen." This goes beyond existing law in many nations.

Why are stamp, coin and antiquities dealers and collectors concerned about the Unidroit Convention?

The definitions of stamps, coins and antiquities are so broadly stated that any collector or institution owning a stamp, coin or minor antiquity (such as a scarab or oil lamp) more than one hundred years old, originating in  another country than that in which the collection resides, could be required to return it to the country of origin in the absence of documentary proof that the object was legally exported. Moreover, if the collector cannot produce evidence of provenance, the object could be seized without compensation.


This list is dedicated to discussing the effects of the Unidroit Convention and related legislation on trading in and collecting stamps, coins and antiquities, and in particular, on ancient coin collecting.

The term "stamps" is defined as including all objects recognized as collectible by stamp collectors, such as postage, revenue, tax and hunting license stamps,  covers, philatelic postcards, blocks, sheets and all other officially issued stamps of any kind including embossed stamps on documents and encased stamps used as currency.

The term "coins" is defined as including all objects recognized as collectible by coin collectors, such as coins, medals, tokens, coinage related artifacts such as dies, and paper currency.

Antiquities are defined to be the products of all ancient cultures prior to the Islamic conquest of Sasanian Persia  (649 a.d.) and also the products of the Byzantine Empire prior to the fall of Constantinople in 1204 a.d. Although the list particularly focuses on minor antiquities, all kinds of antiquities including ancient weapons and ancient art objects are considered to be topical.

Discussion topics may include:
    * T
he intent and scope of Unidroit and related legislation,
    * The intentions and motives of those who advocate this legislation,
    * News and events related to this legislation,
    * Ways in which this legislation could be modified/improved,
    * Alternative approaches to dealing with the problems that Unidroit addresses,
    * News and events related to illegal export of stamps, coins and antiquities, thefts from institutions, forgery, unethical trading practices, site robbing and anything else that tends to discredit stamp, coin and antiquities trading or collecting as an avocation.

Basically, anything to do with the law as it applies to trading in and collecting stamps, coins and ancient artifacts is on topic. Lively discussions are encouraged but extended flames, abusive language, rants and repetitious postings are not. Sales notices and other commercial postings are not allowed

To contact the moderator directly send an email to:

Your moderator (listowner) is Dave Welsh.

Please note that the Yahoogroups server automatically removes attachments of any kind. This is a safety measure to ensure that the emails that you receive from the list are virus free. it also makes it impossible to send images to the list. However, images can be uploaded to the home page.

List Use and Rules

The language used in all posts, announcements and replies shall be English.

The List Agenda
This discussion list has an agenda:
To define the impact of the 1995 Unidroit convention on collectors of coins, stamps and antiquities. The objective is to arrive at an understanding of the practical effects of the convention, the problems and difficulties (if any) that it would cause, and whether it would create uncertain or unfavorable market conditions that would impact collectors and the sale of collections.

What is allowed?
Almost anything as long as it is related to the law as it applies to trading in and collecting stamps, coins and ancient artifacts. Examples:

   * The  effects of the Unidroit Convention on collecting, including legal obligations for collectors.
   * The case for the Unidroit Convention - site robbing and unethical antiquities trading.
   * If the Unidroit Convention is adopted, will it be effective in eliminating site looting?
   * Who is behind Unidroit? Who are its active proponents?
   * The case against the Unidroit Convention - its side effects, the difficulties of collecting under Unidroit.
   * The good that collectors do - their contributions to education, society, science and museums.
   * Alternative methods of preventing or discouraging site looting.
   * Alternative approaches to reforming the antiquities trade to control trade in looted objects.
   * Should common minor antiquities such as coins, seals, scarabs and oil lamps be treated differently?

What is particularly Encouraged?
   * Information and arguments are needed better explaining the advantages of the 1995 Unidroit convention.
   * Legal opinion, from any qualified source, is needed particularly regarding:
         - Legislation involved in accession to the convention: possibility of exceptions, reservations, etc.
         - Application of the convention to collectors of coins, stamps and antiquities
         - Value or importance threshold for minor objects such as coins and stamps
         - Documentation of provenance: what would be legally acceptable
         - Due diligence investigations: are they required for all objects?

Commercial Postings
Commercial postings of any kind are prohibited, but posters may include a link identifying their commercial website in their signature block provided that no advertising language accompanies this link.

What is NOT allowed?
   * Political commentaries or diatribes.
   * Profane or abusive language, personal attacks against Listmembers or anyone else.
   * Ad hominem arguments of any kind. It is appropriate to criticize ideas, but never individuals.
   * Flame wars.

What is Discouraged?
   * Repetition. Once a point has been made, there is no need to keep repeating it.
   * Red herrings. Discussions should either provide general information of interest or advance the agenda.
Members of Unidroit-L are required to behave responsibly towards the list and each other. The moderator reserves the right to exercise censorship. The list focuses on a subject where opinions are strongly held on both sides of the issues, and it is essential that the rules of civility be observed. Arguments do not become more effective by being presented in a discourteous or abusive manner.

Moderation and Expulsion
The moderator reserves the right to place users under moderation (messages will be approved by the moderator before distribution to the list) or in cases of flagrant abuse, to expel users, permanently or temporarily. Profane or abusive language will be grounds for immediate and permanent expulsion from the list.

The moderator, at discretion, may mediate ongoing disputes or disagreements.
Contributing to the list

The reply-to default for the list is to the sender only. If you want to reply to a message and have it go to the group at large, you will have to either use a 'reply to all option' or add to the email address list in your message.

There are no foolish questions on this list. If there is something you don't understand, please ask.

Contributions from all points of view are desired. The intention is to have a balanced discussion of issues. Whether you are a collector or a dealer concerned about the practical problems involved in complying with the Unidroit Convention, or a museum curator or archaeologist concerned about the destruction of information and artifacts from site looting, your opinion is valued.

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