World Coins

U.S. extends emergency import rules with Yemen

This imitation Athenian tetradrachm was actually issued in Yemen, and as such is subject to import restrictions put in place in early 2020, and renewed on Aug. 31.

Images courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group.

The United States on Aug. 31 extended an emergency memorandum of understanding relating to cultural property from Yemen, without input from the Cultural Property Advisory Committee or the public.

That leaves Peter Tompa, executive director of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, upset.

The new agreement extends protections for Yemeni cultural property that were put in place in 2020 on an emergency basis.

Writing at, Tompa notes that the Cultural Property Implementation Act specifies that such agreements will only be entered into after the proposal is vetted by CPAC, which then is expected to recommend which kinds of objects are considered for import restrictions under the agreement.

“By converting the current ‘emergency import restrictions’ into ones under a MOU, the State Department has prevented CPAC and the public (including concerned Jewish exile and collector groups)  from commenting on whether import restrictions should continue for the country, which does not respect the rule of law,” wrote Tompa.

When Yemeni import restrictions were last before CPAC in 2019, despite a two-week comment period, any such agreement faced substantial opposition from Jewish exile and coin collector groups, according to Tompa. This latest maneuver was done because “they knew it would be controversial and subject to the same opposition today,” wrote Tompa.

What it affects

The earliest coins from Yemen are imitations of silver tetradrachms from Athens, which feature a bust of Athena on the obverse and an owl on the reverse.

The style of these imitations is distinctive, and they are usually marked with Arabian monograms or graffiti, Tompa wrote, in 2020 when the emergency restrictions were put in place.

Other imitations of Athenian coinage, made by the Minaeans and Sabaeans, are also included in the restrictions.

In addition, a whole list of specific types from specific issuers is part of the original MOU.

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