Clocks and barometer specialist Russ Allen, who runs Steam Mill Clocks, told ATG that 10 officers were involved in the seizure last week.
The police operation highlights the need for the trade to be fully aware of the rules around CITES-listed species.
Allen, a dealer for more than 30 years, was arrested and immediately bailed over the sale of a late 19th century bronze-mounted thermometer fashioned from a section of elephant ivory tusk. Under current rules, it would not qualify as ‘worked’ ivory and accordingly is not legal to sell.
It is thought a member of the public reported the item.
A police spokeswoman said the police “take allegations of this type very seriously” and, although declining to confirm numbers, said officers from both the Derbyshire Constabulary’s task force and a wildlife crime officer attended.
Allen says offering the thermometer for sale was an honest mistake and described the scale of the police action as “draconian”. He said: “They arrived in a transit van and with CID and plainclothes policemen. The warrant authorised the seizure of computers, phones and bank records, the loss of which is bound to have significant consequences to anyone engaged in legitimate business.”
However, he added that “fortunately the officers themselves were very reasonable. As I was expecting the arrival of a client I was able to agree to a police interview at another time”.
Maggie Campbell Pedersen, The Gemmological Association of Great Britain president and author of the 2015 book Ivory, said the December 2013 guidance changes on worked and unworked ivory had not been “widely enough publicised”.
“Simply to polish and mount an elephant tusk is no longer sufficient. It must now be carved on most of its surface to be considered ‘worked’.”