Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Artefact Collectors' Thin Arguments, Thin Skins

Coin Collecting archaeologist John Rieske complains on the artefact collectors' email discussion group Unidroit-L:
"I have recently received unsolicited email attcks from Mr. Barford. They are now consigned to the spam bin for permanent disposal. john". Apart from the ability to boast that he has a "spam bin" as if nobody else had one, this is a strange thing to say. He posted something on Moneta-L which seemed not to have the ring of truth, so I queried it off-list. A request for clarification, and hardly an "attack", but it seems those who have thing arguments have thin skins. Here is the first post I sent , dated 15th May, in reply to the Unidroit-L message:

Are you referring to the Mir Zakah hoards?
They were discovered in 1992, and on the market in Peshawar (which is of course in Pakistan, not Afghanistan) in 1994. So this was during the period of the civil war between Mujahadin groups. The Taliban only began their rise to power 1996-8 and their international recognition was later still. So is this in fact true?:
> Since these coins were sold by the then recognized government of
> Afghanistan by most nations at the time, why then would these coins be
> considered illicit? <

News reports at the time indicated they were on the market illicitly, and the Kabul government had not sanctioned them leaving the country. So who according to you sold these coins to the people selling them to US buyers?

Do you have any of these coins? Paul Barford

[I was pretty sure that what he was referring to were the Mir Zakah hoards]

This is the second, replying to his assertion as though it is a fact everybody should know that somebody was calling these hoards "the Taliban hoards" since it was the Taliban who were being financed by their sale, I wrote:
Thanks. Called by whom? You seem to be the person making these claims.
[I had not come across any other mention of the phrase "the Taliban hoards" anywhere, hardly an "attack", just a request for clarification].

My third and final message sent soon after that was
ah, it seems to be a spelling mistake for "hordes" Thanks
There was no reply to the second or third messages, stating where Mr Rieske had actually come across the term "The Taliban Hoards".

Then we learn today that he'd been getting "unsolicited email attcks from Mr. Barford", when my queries were prompted by his posting false information to a discussion list, and drawing false conclusions from this information. It does not say much for numismatists and their dediation to scholarly debate when an attempt to establish the true facts behind a discovery is treated as an "attack".

Of course pretending to be offended is a good ploy to escape from answering and having perhaps to say "ooops I was mistaken".

[By the way his comment on International recognition was questioned by another poster on the moneta-L list]

Vignette: Please Miss, Barford said nasty things about collecting.....

Monday, May 17, 2010

A "passionate interest in history" betrayed by lack of Historical Knowledge

A US coin collector, John Pennock “ACCG ANA PAN” claimed on a US Collectors’ forum not to be interested in a “middle road” to ethical collecting and preferred the extreme approach of the Ancient Coin Collectors’ Guild, an "Internationalist" organization. His opinion was
Being an ancient coin collector and not supporting the ACCG now, is akin to being Neville Chamberlin (sic) trying to appease Hitler by dividing Poland. That middle ground was an illusion then, as this is now”.

It seems to me that anyone saying they are collecting because of an interest in history might be expected to get that “history” right. In 1938 Neville Chamberlain, acquiesced to the beginning of the partition of Czechoslovakia, agreeing not to interfere with the annexation of the Sudetenland by Hitler. I wrote to Pennock off-list pointing out that this was not the “division of Poland” adding that “That happened at Yalta, and Roosevelt did that”. I actually made a point of signing the letter “Paul Barford, Warsaw Poland” just so he would know.

Unbelievably this is the reply I got:
You are wrong about Yalta and Roosevelt. That was a conference where the post-war fate of Poland was decided. Poland wasn't 'divided' there nor did appeasement take place there nor was Chamberlain there. Poland fell exclusively into the Soviet sphere and actually already was completely occupied by Russia. I'm not convinced you have firm grip on history or the lessons from it. But I'm pretty sure you won't write a blog about that.

Well, first of all, I said nothing about Chamberlain being at Yalta. It seems the coin collector is getting terribly confused. I really find it odd that if somebody sitting in Warsaw tells him that Poland was divided at Yalta, before writing that it was not, he might just check his facts before pressing the send button. Obviously he is too sure of himself to reach for the historical atlas. Before the Soviet invasion of September 17th 1939 (the one that led to the Polish officers who died at Katyn getting into Soviet hands) the eastern borders of the Second Republic extended far to the east of where they are now. The areas to the east of this line were "Poland" from the fourteenth century on, a huge area formed part of the Republic of the Two Nations until the eighteenth century partitions. Independent Poland after 1918/1919 again extended further to the east than Poland does today.

The eastern border of Poland, the one it has today was redrawn at Yalta. It cuts off the former eastern territories of the country and awarded them to the Soviet Union. Of course Pennock is also totally wrong writing that the area that is now Poland “actually already was completely occupied by Russia” at the time of the Yalta conference in February 1945.