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USA releases new import restrictions on coins from Bulgaria

by Peter Tompa

February 6, 2014 – On January 16, 2014, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced new import restrictions on all Celtic, Greek, Roman Provincial, Bulgarian and Byzantine Imperial and Ottoman coins made in Bulgaria as recently as 1750. The restrictions also encompass unidentified ‘Greek coins from nearby regions that are found in Bulgaria.’ This is another major expansion of import restrictions, and one that for the first time reaches coins made as recently as the 18th c.

Specifically, the designated list, taken from the Federal Register (a publication that announces new federal regulations) is as follows:

'7. Coins – In copper, bronze, silver and gold. Many of the listed coins with inscriptions in Greek can be found in B. Head, Historia Numorum: A Manual of Greek Numismatics (London, 1911) and C.M. Kraay, Archaic and Classical Greek Coins (London, 1976). Many of the Roman provincial mints in modern Bulgaria are covered in I. Varbanov, Greek Imperial Coins I: Dacia, Moesia Superior, Moesia Inferior (Bourgas, 2005), id., Greek Imperial Coins II: Thrace (from Abderato Pautalia) (Bourgas, 2005), id., Greek Imperial Coins III: Thrace (from Perinthus to Trajanopolis), Chersonesos Thraciae, Insula Thraciae, Macedonia (Bourgas 2007). A non-exclusive list of pre-Roman and Roman mints include Mesembria (modern Nesembar), Dionysopolis (Balchik), Marcianopolis (Devnya), Nicopolis ad Istrum (near Veliko Tarnovo), Odessus (Varna), Anchialus (Pomorie), Apollonia Pontica (Sozopol), Cabyle (Kabile), Deultum (Debelt), Nicopolis ad Nestum (Garmen), Pautalia (Kyustendil), Philippopolis (Plovdiv), Serdica (Sofia), and Augusta Traiana (Stara Zagora). Later coins may be found in A. Radushev and G. Zhekov, Catalogue of Bulgarian Medieval Coins IX-XV c. (Sofia 1999) and J.Youroukova and V. Penchev, Bulgarian Medieval Coins and Seals (Sofia 1990).
a. Pre-monetary media of exchange including “arrow money,” bells, and bracelets. Approximate date: 13th century B.C. through 6th century B.C.
b. Thracian and Hellenistic coins struck in gold, silver, and bronze by city-states and kingdoms that operated in the territory of the modern Bulgarian state. This designation includes official coinages of Greek-using city-states and kingdoms, Scythian and Celtic coinage, and local imitations of official issues. Also included are Greek coins from nearby regions that are found in Bulgaria. Approximate date: 6th century BC through the 1st century B.C.
c. Roman provincial coins – Locally produced coins usually struck in bronze or copper at mints in the territory of the modern state of Bulgaria. May also be silver, silver plate, or gold. Approximate date: 1st century BC through the 4th century A.D.
d. Coinage of the First and Second Bulgarian Empires and Byzantine Empire – Struck in gold, silver, and bronze by Bulgarian and Byzantine emperors at mints within the modern state of Bulgaria. Approximate date: 4th century A.D. through A.D. 1396.
e. Ottoman coins – Struck at mints within the modern state of Bulgaria. Approximate date: A.D. 1396 through A.D. 1750.'

Peter Tompa
Peter Tompa has collected ancient coins for thirty years. He has written and lectured about cultural property issues for a decade. He is a contributor to a chapter on numismatics in K. Fitz Gibbon ed., ‘Who Owns the Past?’ (Rutgers 2005). He has lobbied members of the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch in an effort to ensure that the small businesses of the numismatic trade receive fair treatment from federal regulators. He currently serves as a board member of the Cultural Policy Research Institute and the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild. He also has been appointed a vice-chair of the American Bar Association’s Art & Cultural Heritage Law Committee. His advocacy has received notice in the media, including the New York Times, the Art Newspaper and the Voice of America. He hopes his views as a collector and lawyer will provide a counterpoint to the ‘archaeology over all’ perspective found in most blogs about cultural property issues. This Web page is a public resource for general information and opinion about cultural property issues, and is not intended to be a source for legal advice.

This article was previously published on the CNG website.

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