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FenwickG

TOTAL US IVORY BAN

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It has already happened.  It was reported in The Strad a few years ago that Tarisio had some bows with tortoiseshell frogs seized by United States customs.  I think that the frogs were destroyed but the sticks were allowed through.

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Also, if I remember correctly, according to someone in the IPCI Brazilian authorities burned—or were going to burn— tons of pernambuco.  If so, I don't know why sticks might not eventually get caught up in this, too.


 

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 It’s well documented that there are criminal organizations linked to terrorism that traffic ivory. I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to think that this ivory might have more than just elephant blood on it.

 

Nevertheless, the notion of a government agency funding the enforcement of an illegal substance by selling that same illegal substance still seems absurd to me.

 

In the US, I think it's fairly common to seize all kinds of things which have some involvement in criminal activity, including cars, homes and artwork, and put the proceeds toward enforcement, or toward compensating victims. I don't see how it would better to destroy them. As I mentioned, destroying them may be good drama, but does nothing to "undo" the crimes, compensate victims, or help fund better enforcement. Destroying them seems more like an emotional act, an act of anger, which may be appealing to those who are angry about a particular activity, but it's not a very practical or wise use of resources. At least that's what I think as a taxpayer.

 

When resale of items would pose some kind of continuing danger, like with Stinger missiles or heroin, then I can see how destruction makes sense.

 

As far as criminal organizations linked to terrorism trafficking in ivory, and ivory therefor having (human) blood on it:

First of all, no one here has said anything even remotely in support of the illegal ivory trade.

Second, criminal organizations can traffic in just about anything, including women, food, fear, cash, drugs, and denial of resources. Take ivory consumers away from them (if that's possible), and will it make any substantive difference in how they operate, and in human suffering? I highly doubt it. So that too appears to be more of an emotional connection, than a meaninful and practical one.

 

I don't personally use any type of ivory, nor do I deal in bows, so I don't have much of a vested interest behind my comments above. I'm simply trying to make some distinctions between real and practical solutions, and things we do which may not accomplish much more than helping us "feel good" about ourselves. It can be useful to know the differences.

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You guys do realize that ivory is being legally bought and sold as we talk here, the proceeds are used to support wildlife conservation, that there are HUGE stashes of legal ivory from elephant culling which are more difficult to sell - accordingly, encouraging illegal trafficking, etc etc.

 

The fact that some US gov. org. has a knee-jerk reaction in a marginal matter where it has basically no business getting involved in the first place, is not going to impress many and particularly is not going to impress the 4-5 billion people with slightly more pressing survival matters to attend to. 

 

In the end it's not the Africans who almost drove the elephants to extinction. Or the whales. 

 

Banning ivory, even in a qty wise completely insignificant place like the US, is NOT going to save the elephants - it's going to have the exact opposite effect because it'll make ivory a worthless resource for the potential legal users. The "illegal" users can't give a hoot anyway.

 

It's becoming ever more amusing for me to observe how the US Gov is "solving" problems by dumping them on the people who employ them to...solve problems.

 

Similar with the Pernambuco ban : where bow makers depleting Pernambuco ?????   Not even making a dent in it. 

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In the US, I think it's fairly common to seize all kinds of things which have some involvement in criminal activity, including cars, homes and artwork, and put the proceeds toward enforcement, or toward compensating victims. 

 

But the homes, cars, and artwork they are selling are not illegal.  

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In the grand scheme of things I use very little material that is related to, or mimics, endangered species when restoring... and that which I use is antique and/or legal, or harvested away from the forests that are endangered (according to the supplier).  Of course, I don't work on bows (I leave that to others I think are better at it than I).

 

For what it's worth (as Matthew mentioned), F, G, & W explained how they tell the difference between mammoth & elephant ivory (by viewing the end grain) two decades ago... so unless something has changed, it certainly seems possible. 

 

Would I be set with a F, G, & W raid?  Probably not.  The mountain of paperwork required would probably drown me... and some of the woods I have I bought so long ago I can't recall where I obtained them.

 

Do I completely agree with the CITES statute?  Though I understand it, I don't like all of it.  Seems to me, when restoring a piece that was originally made with the material, recycling bits like antique piano keys is a smart use of a precious material (can't legally alter any elephant ivory, however)...  but if it somehow helps the cause not to use these resources, I'm OK with that.  I can also see this very well could be an enforcement nightmare.

 

When it comes to resources that are legal according to the treaty, I would appreciate education pertaining to the material rather than broad statutes... and prefer to retain the ability to be a responsible environmentalist and use my own logic and employ my own conscience. Maybe I ask too much, but the restrictions don't seem to be working all that well, and humans are using all kinds of resources that will eventually become "endangered" without much care and understanding for the consequences.

 

As Jerry mentioned, the discussion is about what is to be done with legal alternatives.  As far as I can see, no one here has argued in favor of black-market ivory.  We do seem to be getting a little caught up in semantics, however, and the discussion runs the risk of becoming pedantic because of this.

 

Now... on the other hand... if we want to talk about realistic renewable alternatives to pernambuco, ebony, ivory and the rest, I'm all ears.   I recall Johannes Finkel experimented extensively (20 to 25 years ago) with adhesives that would allow metal faceplates to be reliably applied w/o the use of pins, for example.

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Does anyone doubt that there IS a possibility that old, valuable master bows could be confiscated and destroyed, before this is all settled?

PayPal can do that for you already.   :rolleyes:

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But the homes, cars, and artwork they are selling are not illegal.  

My understanding is that they need to have been defined as illegal, before they can be sold by enforcement agencies. Then once they have gone through those proper channels, they become legal again, with accompanying proper documentation. Same could be done with ivory, rather than acting out anger on it (smashing it). Destroying it creates a replacement market for what was destroyed. What would be the most likely source of replacement, for those who have already demonstrated little respect for elephants and the law?

Yup, killing more elephants.

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Destroying it creates a replacement market for what was destroyed. What would be the most likely source of replacement, for those who have already demonstrated little respect for elephants and the law?

Yup, killing more elephants.

 

By that logic, confiscating it in the first place creates a replacement market. 

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Hi Mat, I was going to mention the cross- hatching lines and angles that differ between the species and makes them easy to identify.  Trouble is they only show up on the end grain Small pieces like peg collars and flat pieces like bow tips unfortunately need more than a casual glance to tell the difference. Most mammoth is a bit browner or cream colored than elephant but that isn't always the case. My pieces are pretty damn white. 

 

I've been arguing rather strenuously against the banning of mammoth ivory. It does seem to be a lazy reversal of an alternative solution formally recognized as a valid practice by the same Federal agencies that have previously supported it. I've had several phone conversations with the forensic lab (actually here in Oregon) that is responsible for banned species identification. I was asking if there was any way of authenticating my small pieces of mammoth as such to avoid any confiscation at international borders.  All they could suggest was notes attached to shipments with a personal note identifying the species. Not a very good solution since it also flagged the shipment as a potential problem. If they were sent to the lab, the process might hold up delivery by as much as a year.

 

I guess banning mammoth along with other dentine substances is one way around the problem of identification efforts and registration. It just seems like throwing out the baby with the bath water to me. It is probably easier for me to just not provide white collars since I don't make that many anyway. I always have to go through a lengthy explanation of the possible ramifications of using anything ivory-like to potential customers and often talk them out of it. No plastic-no way and boxwood just doesn't have the same look.  

 

I really am sorry if my rather strident defense of alternate dentine materials put off readers of the posts, especially Darryl. These typed responses often can convey a curtness and snideness that is not intended or desired. Emoticons don't quite cut it and there is no way to convey irony or gentle sarcasm. We differ, we discuss, we learn (some of us), we consider, sometimes we see the other opinions points and modify our own position.. Sometimes it takes some breaks to digest new information and, behold, the train of discussion has moved on. Perhaps a rabble-rouser has moved in and changed the discussion even further off line.

 

I really hate to disagree even slightly with Roger, besides his respectability he's so damn big and brawny (insert friendly ,satiric, emoticon). Things are changing in our ability to make a living and are getting even harder in an already incredibly difficult business. If we don't discuss the issues here among out peers, how can we talk to the agencies about rules that reverse our passed plans, purchases and decisions?  I don't think any of this is as simple as just not using natural materials that are getting over harvested. Bow makers just can't stop using a material that they have been buying and hoarding for all of their careers.  Their customers, past and future need to know that they can travel with their instruments. Roger of all people should know how difficult traveling with an instrument can be. I know the bass travel wasn't a picnic even without written records of the origin of his tailpiece and fingerboard. .We all have different hats in this ring and some players in the game have more hats than others.

 

 If I don't have any children to which to pass on the World, that doesn't excuse me from caring what it looks like. I guess that I could limit my production to mountain mahogany (not endangered) and not use ornamental collars at all but that would further limit a already limited market and make my life even more problematic than it already is. (insert emoticon for dispair)

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Now... on the other hand... if we want to talk about realistic renewable alternatives to pernambuco, ebony, ivory and the rest, I'm all ears.   I recall Johannes Finkel experimented extensively (20 to 25 years ago) with adhesives that would allow metal faceplates to be reliably applied w/o the use of pins, for example.

And I'll go to an alternative material for ebony fingerboards in a heartbeat, once such a material has a bit of a track record with success on violins. And I'll do that, even if it comes from temporarily more abundant, but less long-term

renewable resources, like oil pumped out of the ground.

 

One starts putting some real thought into things, rather than jumping on some convenient and "politically correct" bandwagon, and things aren't always as simple as one would like them to be.

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One starts putting some real thought into things, rather than jumping on some convenient and "politically correct" bandwagon, and things aren't always as simple as one would like them to be.

Oh, I don’t think anybody here is just being politically correct.  But the question is, where do we draw the line, and will it work?

 

I don’t think there’s a question of needing to draw a line or not, because the ones that have already been drawn haven’t totally ended poaching.

 

So, the question isn't really NIMBY vs KNEE JERK, Fox vs MSNBC, it's what do we, as a species, choose as the future for our planet?  

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Oh, I don’t think anybody here is just being politically correct.  But the question is, where do we draw the line, and will it work?

 

I don’t think there’s a question of needing to draw a line or not, because the ones that have already been drawn haven’t totally ended poaching.

 

Agreed. I also don't rate effectiveness in "black and white", like defining a particular effort as totally effective, or a failure. There can also be degrees of effectiveness.

 

There has probably been no single thing in human history which has been totally effective, so maybe we need to define effectiveness as taking small bites at progress.

 

That still leaves a huge question:

What exactly is progress, and have we reached a superior state, compared to the time when we were hunter/gatherers, and put much less strain on the total earth environment?

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It has already happened.  It was reported in The Strad a few years ago that Tarisio had some bows with tortoiseshell frogs seized by United States customs.  I think that the frogs were destroyed but the sticks were allowed through.

Would'nt this mean that few thousands pianos will be destroyed?

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Destroying seized ivory, tortoise shell or whatever is not something a civilised country should be proud of. It's an extremely brutal approach not unlike the recent destruction of the ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu or the sacred temples in Burma a few years back by the military. In a strange way it seems almost as disturbing as the act of killing the elephants.

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By that logic, confiscating it in the first place creates a replacement market. 

Yup, unless the confiscated stuff can return to the market in a somehow better way.

Confiscating and destroying it removes that option.

 

We've done a few rounds on this topic now, so I wouldn't want anyone to think that my opinions about your opinions is in any way related to your work product. IMO, you make really nice fiddles. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

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We've done a few rounds on this topic now, so I wouldn't want anyone to think that my opinions about your opinions is in any way related to your work product. IMO, you make really nice fiddles. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

 

Thanks David. It’s not easy to debate against the “Titans of Industry” but in the end I’m glad I voiced my opinion. Your work has long been an inspiration for me and you’ll always be one of the principal gods of violin making in my mind......even if you’re wrong sometimes.  :D  :D  :D 

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So when major orchestras cross borders do they endure these type of "what's your stuff made from" endoscopies, or do they have "fluffers" that make it all quietly get through?

 

It seems from media accounts that its mostly individual travellers that get the treatment at borders?

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 In a strange way it seems almost as disturbing as the act of killing the elephants.

 

Not even close. Elephants are animate, they have matriarchal family structures and relationships, they have incredible memories and are quite intelligent with a brain larger than any other land animal. Ivory has none of the above attributes. But I get the point. The killing of the animal just for the ivory is a terrible and callous waste. The destruction of the antique ivory is just a continuation, if not final act, of that callous and senseless waste.

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