Guidelines For Our Customers


        In recent years collecting antiquities and ancient coins has become increasingly regulated in an attempt to protect cultural heritage. See A Rational Approach To Collecting for an objective discussion of the underlying issues and needed reforms to current laws. On this page we provide some simple guidelines for how to legally collect under current law. Consult a qualified attorney for specific legal advice.

         The 1970 UNESCO and 1995 UNIDROIT Conventions are the international agreements that apply to cultural heritage objects. Most, but not all, countries are signatories to these conventions. The US signed the UNESCO Convention only in 1983. However UNESCO and UNIDROIT have no enforcement mechanisms and it's up to individual countries to enact laws and agreements to enforce these conventions as they see fit. Such laws vary from country to country. In the US they take the form of MOU's (Memoranda of Understanding) between the US and source countries as to what types of material are considered cultural heritage. Import into the US of these types of items subsequent to the effective date of the MOU is then restricted without a proper export permit or documented pre-1970 provenance. Items provably in the US prior to the effective date are legal absent evidence the particular items were stolen or illegally exported from the country of origin.


        In general antiquities from other countries are legal to purchase and own in the US if either 1. They have well documented pre-1970 provenance, or 2. They are accompanied by a valid Export Permit, or 3. They were imported into the US prior to the effective date of the US MOU with the country of origin. The MOU's also define what types of items are subject to the agreement. These vary widely from country to country. See US Bilateral Agreements for the particulars.

         The countries the US has MOU's with as of August, 2017 and their effective dates are:

     Belize      February 27, 2013
     Bolivia      December 4, 2001
     Bulgaria      January 14, 2014
     Cambodia      September 19, 2003
     China      January 14, 2009
     Colombia      March 17, 2006
     Cyprus      July 16, 2002
     Egypt      November 30, 2016
     El Salvador      March 8, 1996
     Greece      July 7, 2011
     Guatemala      September 29, 1997
     Honduras      March 12, 2004
     Italy      January 19, 2001
     Mali      September 19, 1997
     Nicaragua      June 16, 1999
     Peru      June 9, 1997
     Iraq*      April 30, 2008
     Syria*      May 9, 2016

* Emergency Protection Acts

         So in general any item with documentation proving it was in the US prior to the effective date of the relevant MOU will be legal to purchase and own in the US. And all items from a country with which the US has no MOU will also be legal (absent proof of theft or illegal export of the particular items). The great majority of pieces in our inventory come with proof they've been in the US prior to the effective date of any relevant MOU.


         Shipping pieces purchased from us into your country is subject to the customs regulations of your country which vary from country to country. Thus items legally in our US inventory could be illegal to ship to your country. It is the customer's responsibility to ensure any particular item can be legally imported from us into his country prior to purchasing it. We cannot be responsible for seizure of items by your customs.

         As a general principle any item with either an Export Permit from the country of origin, or documented pre-1970 provenance will ensure its legality in any country.

UK: All types of antiquities appear to be legal to receive from the US. Items described as 'antique of an age exceeding 100 years.' are subject to 5% VAT rather than the usual 20% according to the UK Customs commodity code # 9706000090.


         The risk of seizure of any items purchased from us is almost nonexistent. Insofar as we know no object purchased from us has ever been subject to a legal challenge. We do everything we can to sell only legal and well provenanced pieces. However in the case of any questions it may become the collector's responsibility to prove the legality of an item. Thus it's important to maintain documentation of dates and sources of all purchases, including what is known of the prior provenance of the item. We attempt to provide this insofar as it's known in the item description, and a COA (Certificate of Authenticity) from us with this information and a printed image of the item can be provided at cost.

        We do everything we can to ensure all items purchased from us come entirely from good and legal sources and will be legal to own. And we do everything we can to eliminate any possible risk of acquiring items from us so you can be confident in your purchases and continue to enjoy and share the time honored tradition of collecting treasures from the shared cultural heritage of the past.