Despite the best efforts of the trade, I fear a law that bans the sale of most antique ivory will soon be with us. We must make a record, or the best record that we can, of the destruction this new bill will cause.
I would like to ask all the members of the antiques trade – auctioneers, dealers, restorers and, in particular, bullion traders who deal with scrap silver and gold – for their help in three key areas:
1. If you see any antique objects which have been mutilated by the removal of their ivory components or will be discarded because they can no longer be sold, please take an image of the item and its details and forward them to the dedicated email address below right. If, as a restorer, you are asked to remove ivory elements from an object, please do the same.
2. The only alternatives for members of the public discarding unwanted antique ivory are currently wildlife charity-organised ‘surrender days’ which pledge to destroy every item irrespective of its age, and that is simply not acceptable.
May I ask instead that dealers and auctioneers take these items (not for sale). I will pledge to store them until a museum will take them for display or they can be given to a collector who will keep them safe for at least one more generation.
This way I hope we can become the first port of call for any member of the public with antique ivory that they no longer wish to own.
3. I have grave concerns over the proposed exemption for antique ivory items of “outstanding artistic, cultural or historic value”. In evidence given to the Ivory Bill Committee, it was estimated that no more than 100 such exemptions would need to be granted annually in the UK. To that end, I would ask anyone who applies for an exemption to forward images and details of the object and the grounds on which the exemption was granted or refused.
I sincerely believe all the information, or as much as we can compile, will be vital going forward and possibly the key to overturning this bad law in the future.