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Chunk of ivory for sale, anyone?


PhilipKT

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So, I pop into Jay's violin shop a time or two ago and trip over a log.. a log of ebony.

This thing was big around as a fence post (maybe 10 inches in diameter)and perhaps 40 inches long.

It is enormous, but more than that, it's heavy!

HEAVY!

it must have weighed 50 pounds, at least. Hefting it was like sneaking into Arnold Schwarzenegger's private barbell set and having a lift or two.

"Jay, what in the world are you doing with this?"

"Oh, everyone should have a nice chunk of ebony lying around."

"Say, Jay, that gives me an idea. Do you have any ivory? I have a hankering to have someone make me an ivory frogged bow, with a checkered thumb rest, the way they all should be."

So Jay pulls out a chunk of pure white ivory. It was beautiful, but I noticed it wasn't very big. He assented.

"It's for a violin frog...too small for a cello frog."

Jay, do you have any more?"

"No."

HENCE MY POST.

Anyone got a nice chunk of ivory for sale?

not mastadon, not bone, not polymer, but honest ivory.

Inquiring minds wanna know.

Philip

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Bad news.

The CITES treaty makes international trade in elephant ivory illegal. Whale ivory is likewise proscribed. Most legal ivory (walrus, hippo, warthog) requires a permit to ship into or out of the US. Within the the US, most animal products come either under the US Endangered Species Act or under various state laws. Elephant ivory is included under the US Endangered Species act so it is illegal to buy or sell both internationally AND across state lines.

The exception is 'legacy' ivory; the problem there is that you need to document that the ivory in question was harvested before any of the laws came into effect. Most people can't produce the appropriate documentation. Antique carved pieces can serve as their own documentation, but even then, it's best to have as much paper documentation as you can. Even legal ivory should be documented as much as possible -- it takes a real expert to distinguish legal from illegal ivory, and Customs (or even Fish and Game officers) are authorized to seize and destroy 'contraband'. By the time you can insist on getting an expert in, the item may have already been destroyed.

A few resources:

http://www.coupdefoudre.com/Ivory.html

http://www.gustavus.com/heidi/laws.html

http://ipl.unm.edu/cwl/fedbook/afeleph.html

I used to do scrimshaw, and still have some pre-ban whale ivory. But I have no documentation, so I really can't do anything much with it commercially.

-Claire

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I attended an auction of a retiring luthier here about a month ago, & there was a hunk of elephant ivory about the size of my fist that was auctioned off. No apparent papers or anything with it. I don't remember what it went for, but it was in a box of miscellaneous piano key ivory, mop, etc. I think the box went for about $25.

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T heres also rules on whther the ivory is a `worked `, object and can not be made into anything else. Ebay is supposed to ban ivory that can be altered in its form or made into other items such as a raw tusk, but there is still regularly tusks on sale ,even here in the UK.

The US seems to have lots of places that sell elephant ivory, what its status is in regard to whether its antique or not i dont know.You wont find anywhere in the UK that sells ivory, unless its from an antiques auction.

The same goes for tortoiseshell items ,on ebay there is supposed to be a total ban on any item of hawksbill turtle whether its 200 years old or not.But it still sells regularly. In the UK you can buy retail ,old tortoiseshell material for use to restore veneered furniture ,etc...

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I am aware of the ban on ivory. that is why i am seeking old ivory, before that ridiculous-and completely useless- ban went into effect.

I'm sure there were some clever bow/violin makers who saw the signs and bought-and documented- some ivory. that is why the bow I want would be expensive.... but it would be lovely as well.

Wouldn't mind having some tortoiseshell either, but I think ivory is a better and much stronger materiel for bow frogs.

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When I moved from my last house I regretfully left an old upright piano that was hand rebuilt by a famous vaudeville personality. The keys were ivory and the black ones were solid ebony. Each ebony key was just the right size for a frog. The ivory keys were a lamination over maple but enough for bow tips for eternity.

What would keep someone from making frogs from mearschaum ? It and ivory are hard to tell apart.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
PhilipKT

I am aware of the ban on ivory. that is why i am seeking old ivory, before that ridiculous-and completely useless- ban went into effect.


Sorry Phillip. I don't agree that the CITES treaty is useless. While I'm sure it doesn't completely stop the harvest and use of these materials, it does restrict the trade.

When I was at Shar, we had an import/export license for (legal, as in antique) Ivory and Tortoise. The "ban" is for import/export of endagered species materials, that are not antique, for commercial purposes. The ban also extends to items privately owned, but made from these materials after the treaty went into effect (in the 70s). As the document reads, it also extends to items altered after the treaty, so if you made a frog from antique ivory it would technically be subject to the treaty restrictions.

There are pretty decent alternatives to ivory, including mamouth ivory...

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Ivory has a density of 1.7 to 2.0, while ebony woods are in the range of 1.2 g/cc. Ivory frogs are generally too heavy. You may find it difficult to balance the bow or to achieve the weight and response in a bow if you have an ivory frog. I would suggest fine grained ebony or blackwood. If you want a nice looking bow, do a silk wrap.

I sent you two sources of pre-ban by private message to avoid the wrath of the anti-ivory leagues.

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Thr problem with Ivory bans is that they create a black market, and the value of the product is enough that black market dealers are willing to take absurd risks.

If there were a legal, controlled market, the prices would be high btu they would be low enough that the Marketeers would go out of business because the rewards would no longer be worth the risk. Even now, Zimbabwe is complaining that there are too many elephants and are seeking easement of the ivory ban.

I am very much a tree hugger, but evidence indicates that "controlled but legal" will accomplish a lot more good than "banned and smuggled"

I learned a lot while doing various web searches for "legal ivory" "ivory for sale" "ivory dealer" "ivory seller" and other such things...but ddn't find what I was looing for..

god bless ye froggie!

Philip

Make no mistake, I'm very much a fan of wildlife, but this ban is poorly conceived...

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quote:


Originally posted by:
PhilipKT
If there were a legal, controlled market, the prices would be high btu they would be low enough that the Marketeers would go out of business because the rewards would no longer be worth the risk.

You'd think so, wouldn't you. But the very notion of 'controlled' implies 'not enough to satisfy desire'--a ;lacuna the poachers would continue to fill, quite possibly with the complicity of those 'legitimate' dealers.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
PhilipKT

Thr problem with Ivory bans is that they create a black market, and the value of the product is enough that black market dealers are willing to take absurd risks.

If there were a legal, controlled market, the prices would be high btu they would be low enough that the Marketeers would go out of business because the rewards would no longer be worth the risk. Even now, Zimbabwe is complaining that there are too many elephants and are seeking easement of the ivory ban.


I really am not trying to start a political debate, but I do want to share my views.

If the market itself was capable of any real restraint, the treaty would not have been required. The treaty isn't really a "ban" on all ivory. Antiques can be commercially imported and exported with a license. Pre CITES items for personal use can also be transported. I believe there is "controlled" trade of a number of materials listed in the treaty as well. CITES is an international agreement. The laws pertaining to movement within individual countries vary.

The CITES treaty is certainly not perfect, but there was already a healthy "black market" for ivory (in the "controlled market" that existed at the time) before it was signed... I think the difficulty with any restriction is the enforcement.... Attempting to have effective, even handed, enforcement in more than one country must be very difficult at best.

I believe Zimbabwe is a signatory. As it's a treaty, I assume that special circumstances can be brought to the "board", so to speak. In other words, I don't think one specific overpopulation situation is a reason to call the whole kettle black.

To be even more blunt, I doubt you'd be concerned about the ban if you hadn't considered having a modern bow made from an endangered species material. Looks like the treaty may be working fine pertaining to your individual case. I think there are viable alternatives to these substances (like amber, mammoth, etc.). Why not look into those?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
zebedee

sorry for drifting slightly off topic.....

I have a bow with an ivory frog, made in the 1950s I think. Can anyone advise if I would have a problem taking into or out of the US?


What you would need to do to legally export the bow is best determined by a call to the US dept. of Fish, Game and Wildlife.

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Jeffrey, i think , one look at the many photos available of things like the cutlery ivory stores in Sheffield in the 19th century should put anyone off using elephant ivory any longer. The stockpile they had were absolutely enormous ,almost beyond belief, there artilcles available online going into the logistics of moving ivory to sheffield from a one week long trade auction in London.(they had several auctions a year) Something like 3000 tonnes in one auction. That doesnt include the thousands of tonnes of other exotic horn species.

I admire the workmanship and beauty of alot of these items but i would never dream of buying anything i thought was made recently from ivory or other endangered or non endangered animals. Mammoth ivory can look just as good as elephant and the only real difference is the cross hatching at the end grain.

In the larger scheme of things certain animals might not be seen as endangered, but compared to 200 years ago there population is miniscule and ours as grown beyond the earths capability to sustain us.

Just my views!

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