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
(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
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
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:
* The 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,
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.
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List Use and Rules
The language used in all posts, announcements and replies shall be English.
The List Agenda
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
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.
* 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
* 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
* 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
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?
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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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