Like much in government, the decision on the merits of a piece of ivory is to be made by committee; not just one committee but one that can meet in 13 un-named locations covering the length and breadth of the country.
That the charges seem high is to be expected, for no meeting is ever cheap! And, so far, no indication as to who might be sitting on these committees – where are the museum specialists who know and understand all aspects of ivory and ivory carving and who can tell whether the ivory is from an elephant or woolly mammoth – or anything in between? Please name me a dozen.
And this at a time when our ever-more impoverished museums seem to be graduating to the visitor experience and not expertise.
Yet the trade has the specialists with the knowledge and the experience. Specialists too, I feel sure, who have the ability to work outside of the expensive committee network.
But most depressing is the fact that, it would seem, the money raised by this certification service will never cover the costs of running the committees. Certainly, there will not be a single penny raised that will be spent on elephant conservation and, after all, isn’t that what it is all about?
The result will be that the trade in ivory all but ceases and there will be a large stockpile of superb but unsaleable antique ivory of all sorts. The knowledge gained from a lifetime of handling these pieces will evaporate.
However, the civil servants will enjoy their outings, attending these meetings up and down the country, all paid for by you and me, their jobs all safe and secure.
On a lighter note, what a delight to see the little church at Llaneilian jump out from the page (Art Market, ATG No 2484).
Summer holidays in the 1950s were spent at the Rectory and on Sundays I was allowed to ring the solitary bell.
Wainwright is a superb illustrator though he fails, perhaps, to quite catch the magic and tranquillity of the little church and its surroundings, the little row of cottages by the gate (where lived a jolly Mrs Owen).
New Malden, Surrey