In a recent post online, one
archaeologist likened the private collecting of ancient coins to the slaughter
of African elephants. This wildly radical view pits archaeology directly
against a venerable 600-year-old tradition of private scholars and museums
throughout the world, according to Sayles. Objects as plentiful as coins,
surviving in the millions of specimens, can hardly be treated as priceless
treasures to be preserved only by state agencies and institutions.
Collectors argue that they are far better stewards and preservationists than
most institutions, and are sometimes better scholars.
This occurs to me every time I walk past the local numismatist emporium. They always seemed to me to be a bit more scholarly than your average collectors, or maybe because coin collecting has been portrayed as something of a nerd's hobby.