Extension extends import restrictions on coins circulating in Greece

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When import restrictions on Greek coins were extended with a November 21 notice in the Federal Register, One surprise for coin collectors was the addition of a whole new class of restricted coins.

Import restrictions now apply to coins from the Byzantine and Medieval periods that circulated primarily in Greece.

This category includes types of coins such as those from the Byzantine and medieval Frankish and Venetian states that circulated primarily in Greece, the date of which ranges roughly between the 3rd century AD and the 15th century AD.

The extension of the restrictions comes 10 years to the day from the time import restrictions on Greek coins were agreed in a November 21, 2011 memorandum between the United States and Greece (the rules have been updated). implemented on December 1, 2011 and have been periodically renewed since).

Understandably, representatives of the old coin hobby weren’t happy with the increased restrictions, especially (but not only) because they had no warning that those restrictions were coming.

Peter Tompa, Executive Director of the Ancient Coin Collecting Guild, said World of coins in an email: “These additions are of concern for reasons other than the simple fact that collectors of Byzantine and medieval coins have received absolutely no notice or opportunity to be heard on the addition of such coins to the designated list, ”he said. “More importantly, restrictions based on where a coin has ‘primarily traveled’ are statutory flawed. Restrictions are only allowed for archaeological objects that have been “first discovered within, and… subject to export controls by” Greece. “

That is, coins found outside modern Greece could be considered subject to the restrictions, which are aimed at honoring Greek heritage.

Tompa noted that the restrictions are not clear to potential importers as to exactly which parts are restricted and which are not.

Regarding Greek circulation, he said, “This is a problem for numismatic scholars, and there is debate about it even in these circles,” adding: “The Department of State cannot assume that an average importer would know which parts are covered and which are not, or that any expert hired by Customs would necessarily agree with this assessment.

This same problem has emerged with recent Turkish import restrictions, according to Tompa.

The reluctance of State Department officials to help guide enthusiasts is particularly frustrating, Tompa said, pointing to a letter sent by the American Numismatic Association asking for further advice on this issue which was ultimately ignored.

“The net effect is likely that there will be an embargo on all Byzantine and medieval coins circulating in Greece, despite the statutory language, as it is likely that customs officials will not make such distinctions and will simply seize all of them. these coins described as “Greek,” said Tompa.

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