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The issue came to light at the last Paris Coin Fair on March 13, when auctioneers Spink, who attended to promote their sale of the Marshall Collection in London on March 31, presented the catalogue but none of the lots, as would normally be expected.

Under the new laws, all cash transactions totalling €15,000 (about £10,000) or more must be registered, and there are fears that French Customs officers are interpreting the law so literally that members of the trade carrying valuable collections of coins across borders may be stopped.

A spokesman from Spink said that about a year ago a member of their staff was held up because they did not have a list of the coins in their hand luggage even though they had no obligation to do so.

The problem now is that the official position remains unclear. The spokesman said that when it came to promoting the Marshall Collection in Paris, Spink’s simply could not run the risk of the coins being illegally impounded which would cause the cancellation of their star spring sale.

On checking with the British Numismatic Trade Association, Antiques Trade Gazette Coins and Medals correspondent Richard Falkiner learned that, although they could not cite an instance of any member reporting aggravation from French Customs, there is a general cautiousness at transporting valuable stocks of coins between London and Paris.

“It does not take much numismatic material with a small and outdated face value to far exceed the regulatory €15,000,” said Mr Falkiner. “It appears that to an untrained official, coins equals cash and cash needs investigating. In fairness it is easy to understand that a coin struck ‘out of metal’, such as a 50 pence piece struck in gold, has a value far in excess of its legal tender value and it is easy to sympathise with an official who chances upon collectors’ demonetised banknotes which have a value far in excess of their face value.”

He believes that similar difficulties could arise over valuable stamps and other items.

“The lawful authorities need to offer proper training and imbue an element of common sense,” he advised.