Letter: Lessons of treasure trove laws in Scotland

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Sir: The tone of your article on Lord Perth's proposed Treasure Bill was unfortunately biased against the legal activities of the British coin trade ('Treasure 'cowboys' face pounds 5,000 fines', 2 March). Members of the British Numismatic Trade Association adhere to a strict code of ethics, and are only too willing to assist the museums and others of serious intent in the furtherance of numismatic knowledge and research.

We acknowledge that recent finds from the UK soil may contain items of interest to archaeologists and numismatists, and all our members who deal in such coins and artefacts readily offer them on a regular basis to the museums for identification, recording and often purchase. Many of the finds made by metal detectorists have little intrinsic value or interest, but the present voluntary code of conduct, whereby finders are encouraged to report their finds, is far preferable to a draconian new set of legislation, with fines and threats of imprisonment, which will only drive detectorists underground.

The vaults of the museums are already bursting with the accumulated mass of donations and unsorted hoards; far better, then, to encourage finders of coins and artefacts to report them to the museums for recording, and then, if these are not needed to be added to the nation's heritage, they can be offered to the coin trade, whose expertise and marketing skills will ensure that a wide range of British citizens can partake in the centuries-old enjoyable pursuit of assembling a little cultural heritage of their own.

Yours sincerely,


Executive Secretary

British Numismatic Trade


Bromley, Kent

3 March