Academic Ethics, the Coin Trade, and an Unpublished Hoard


I have so many feelings about the role academics play in the trade in antiquities, some ethical and legal, some unethical but legal, some both unethical and illegal.  I want to always find myself of the right side of the ethics in this.  And, this example just shows how murky it all is.  Buttrey was one of the nicest, smartest numismatists I ever met.  A good good human being.  In this instance, his private correspondence has resulted in this coin have a very very high price.

The hoard from which it came, as far as I can tell, was never published.  Was it found in Lebanon? Israel? Palestine? Jordan?  Syria? Egypt? Turkey? Levantine is pretty broad!! What else did it contain besides some (unspecified amount of) Athenian tetradrachms (of unspecified date) and this one coin of Euesperides and the other of Barce?

I’m grateful the auction house provided so much detail in this catalogue entry (they didn’t when they sold the Barce coin two years earlier); but the details are just enough to scholars get a sense of how much more is missing and how much more historical knowledge could have been gained from the now dispersed hoard.

Buttrey acting in good faith and with only the interests of furthering numismatic study helped reward those who have deprived us of this historical information.  And that makes me sad.  I don’t want to make the same mistake.

Link to coin specimen.


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