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Any leftover tortoiseshell?


PhilipKT
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32 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

Chatting with a friend about tortoiseshell bows.

I am aware that tortoiseshell is now considered evil, but I’m wondering if there is any kind of source for leftover tortoiseshell That was not used up before the ban. Presumably that material is still usable?

I see @Rue on her way here.  Run for your life!!   :lol:

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I’m sure there are old stocks of raw tortoise shell from before the ban.  I heard one bow maker describe being called many years ago to clean a hundred pounds, or so, from the New York City workshop of a deceased artisan, not a bow maker, who worked with the stuff.  I have no idea how one would go about finding a cache like this.

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1 hour ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

its only legal if it was manufactured pre ban, for instance you can't use recycled ivory from piano keys on new products, and I'm sure the same is for tortoise shell.

I have the piano keys from a piano made an 1848. Are you saying that this new rule says that I cannot use those piano keys for anything?
If that is correct, then although I don’t want to get into a political discussion, that is an incredibly stupid rule that sounds absolutely nothing.

 

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3 hours ago, PhilipKT said:


If that is correct, then although I don’t want to get into a political discussion, that is an incredibly stupid rule that sounds absolutely nothing.

 

You must have been having a nice sleep for the past 5 years.

You can do what you want with any tortoiseshell that you acquired preCITES, but any kind of trade in the raw material is illegal. Pre CITES worked tortoiseshell can be sold but with significant controls.

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Proving your tortoiseshell predates the CITES bans is difficult, and documentation scarce no doubt, and then subject to judgement and interpretation by officials. I believe when travelling between countries that having a tortoiseshell bow in your case it can be seized, depending on the country. It seems hardly worth the risk. I used to make harpsichords and I was lucky way back when to obtain tortoiseshell to make keyboards the same as Hass on 18c Germany did. It's a wonderful material, and has interesting thermoplastic properties (hence why it was used to make glasses). Beautiful though it may be, I think there are other choices for bow frogs etc that are more practical and less troublesome now. I can tell you there is still black market trade in illegal tortoiseshell, but personally I would not go near that. This is why, sadly, despite the bans, turtles are still being killed for their shell. Even if you found a cache of old, thick shell for frogs, would you truly want to use it?

On CITES, last year I tried to get a 19c English flute with ivory rings into Australia. My flute restorer and I researched at both ends and the paperwork and proof and documentation and sheer expense to try to get it here was so burdensome and prohibitive we simply abandoned. And even instruments with modern artifical ivory are regarded with suspicion by customs officels who are not trained to correctly identify such. The same applies to tortoiseshell. If it's staying put in one country then it is not such a problem I suppose.

 

 

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11 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

Chatting with a friend about tortoiseshell bows.

I am aware that tortoiseshell is now considered evil, but I’m wondering if there is any kind of source for leftover tortoiseshell That was not used up before the ban. Presumably that material is still usable?

What do you want to use it for?

If it’s for a frog repair, other materials can be used in its place.

If you want to make something new, I wouldn’t bother. Not having a paper trail to show when the hawksbill turtles were murdered will put you in a poor position, if any authorities were to check it.

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Just to be clear, for those materials on the CITES list in the category (there are several categories) that includes Ivory and Tortoiseshell:

My understanding (of the fine print) is that personal item made before CITES, or antiques, may be transported if accompanied by the appropriate documents. Alteration (and the way I read it, any alteration) of these objects qualifies them as post CITES or non-antiques... but I'll leave it to the legal eagles to argue the fine points (and I say good luck trying to free a confiscated item from a foreign border no matter it's status).

In the '90s I had an import license for endangered species materials (while at "the firm") and can tell y'all that complying with CITES was not a walk in the park even then (which is really as it should be I believe).  Affidavits from museums and other specialists (stating genus, origin age, etc) were required for import and export, etc. FG&W in the states was very helpful, but the US wasn't the only customs entity one needed to satisfy.

From what I can surmise, most of the "new thing" is basically a tightening of the already existing statutes complicated by confusing, sometimes contradictory, application of the rules at the borders. In reality, documentation was required before, it was just not as carfully enforced.

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Some people still seem to have a desire for Ivory and Tortoiseshell. I don't really understand this myself given that there are so many alternatives thats look nice and don't involve harm to animals (directly).

I've seen a few bows with Ivory frogs and Buttons that were definitely made post the 70's CITES ratification / restrictions (within the last 20 years or so) and of which no certification seems to exist proving that the ivory used for them was obtained pre 1975/1976. This I find concerning......

I have a mandolin that is covered in tortoise shell, I actually thought it was imitation material when I got it but I have been told that is is real.

 

 

 

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I remember speaking some years ago with someone in the bow trade who was visiting a prospective bow supplier. The supplier brought out a few bows with beautiful tortoise shell frogs and the buyer said that would be useless since it was clearly tortoise shell and ergo, clearly illegal.

The supplier protested vigorously that it was very high quality plastic and could even fool a well experienced person. He finally brought out a plank of the plastic the frogs were made of and convinced the buyer it was indeed plastic.

Despite this, the buyer still declined to get any of these bows since they would be a nightmare to get over borders.

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"Proving your tortoiseshell predates the CITES bans is difficult, and documentation scarce no doubt, and then subject to judgement and interpretation by officials. I believe when travelling between countries that having a tortoiseshell bow in your case it can be seized, depending on the country. It seems hardly worth the risk."

Ditto to that! I was going to post something similar, but you've said it all!

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I realize it is not on the CITES list given its long past extinction, but I also don't understand this interest people have in using mammoth on bows.  Seems pointless as once again no one on the customs side will know the difference.

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I have no issues using animal bits and pieces - for whatever - provided the animal is not being hunted ONLY for a decorative purpose (versus animals that are farmed - hopefully humanely - and all the animal is being processed).

So using up  materials such as mammoth bones seems perfectly reasonable to me.

But...if using it causes unnecessary harm to living animals (in the form of illegal trade)...then it has to be stopped.  

If people weren't involved in illegal trade, and there was no demand/greed, and rules were straight-forward and easy to apply...:o

...well, that's never going to happen...

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Several people have made comments that I would like to respond to, or, correctly, “… To which I would like to respond,” but I really I have no interest in descending into a political discussion that accomplishes nothing except allowing people to express their opinion. Meanwhile, thanks for the information.

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