The British Antique Dealers’ Association, LAPADA and the National Antique and Art Dealers’ Association of America are taking the February 11 White House statement on ivory very seriously.
Clinton Howell, the New York dealer in
English furniture and NAADAA member, conceded the antiques trade
faces an uphill battle in its efforts to convince US policy makers
of the differences between antique and new elephant ivory.
"Broad sweeping laws designed to appeal to
the public's sense of frustration over something as tragic as the
extermination of the elephant are not an answer to the problem.
What is needed are specific measures that focus on the why and how
of elephant exploitation.
"As an antiques dealer, I have to say that
the new rules come across largely as publicity stunts, not
meaningful solutions, incidentally denying the cultural
significance of this revered material throughout history."
He is working with NAADAA president James
McConnaughy on a response to the February 11 announcement,
including proposals for an active database of ivory works of art
that would allow genuine antiques to be traded with a
BADA and LAPADA, whose members value the US
market above all others, are keen to assist their colleagues in
America in trying to bring a sense of proportion into any new
restrictions. Sarah Percy-Davis, chief executive of LAPADA,
stressed the need "to safeguard the interests of antique dealers
from undiscriminating legislation that will make the import of any
antique incorporating ivory to the US untenable".
"We need to inform decision makers that
ivory is not limited to carved figures or mounted tusks, but
extends to use in items as diverse as portrait miniatures, tea
caddies, barometers and medieval reliquaries," said BADA secretary
general Mark Dodgson.
"We will also point out that it is not sales
of genuine antiques in the West that is fuelling the largest demand
for new ivory, but the insatiable and undiscerning appetite of
Chinese and South-East Asian buyers."
At the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade held on
February 13, the foreign secretary, William Hague, said that the UK
would go further than its earlier commitments and promised that the
UK would support the CITES commercial prohibition on international
trade in elephant ivory, until the survival of elephants in the
wild is no longer threatened by poaching. Mr Dodgson understands
that, despite these remarks, there will be no change to the
existing provisions on the sale, import or export of worked antique
ivory, as allowed for under existing CITES rules.
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