27 January 2018

‘Works of art and ivory: what are the issues?’, Curator: The Museum Journal 61 (1), January 2018

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna Attempts formally to remove bona fide antique ivory from the raging debate on the preservation of the African elephant, threatened by poaching and illicit trade, rumble on confusingly.  In the United States of America the ban on imports…

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9 January 2018

China announces ‘total ban’ on ivory, or does it?

Eighteenth-century Anglo-Indian furniture at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.   Since the turn of the year, the British press and conservation groups have been justifiably applauding China’s ‘total ban’ on the trade in ivory.  The stringent Chinese onslaught on their…

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22 December 2017

Yesterday in Parliament: ivory

  In one of the final debates in the House of Lords before the Christmas recess, peers discussed the impact of the ivory trade on an elephant population under siege.  Lord Carrington of Fulham (no relation of the former Foreign…

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27 May 2016

Ivory: what is the latest?

According to the entirely justified headline to an online article in Apollo, ‘Antique ivory poses no threat to elephant conservation: in fact, it needs protection itself’ (see here). We all love elephants, and who brought up on Jean de Brunhoff’s Babar (below)…

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25 August 2015

Ivory: responding to the Fish & Wildlife Service

Since the publication on 29 July in Washington of the Fish & Wildlife Service’s ‘Rule’ setting out proposed amendments to the Endangered Species Act, auction houses, collectors, dealers, and museums in the States have been considering and progressing their responses.  The clock is ticking down on the 60-day window allowed for written arguments.

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26 July 2015

Ivory: Fish & Wildlife Service publish ‘Rule’ to amend implementation of Director’s Order 210

Make no mistake: the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is faced with a tough task.  It must, among many other responsibilities, implement universally supported government policy on the conservation of endangered species.  With regard to Director’s Order 210, first issued in February last year, its role is to contribute to the elimination of the illicit trade in poached ivory.  It has been evident for the past eighteen months that this quest has been sweeping up in its wake the trade in world-class works of art made from or incorporating ivory.

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18 July 2015

Ivory: ‘African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act of 2015’

On 15 July, Senators Steve Daines [R-MT] and Lamar Alexander [R-TN] introduced into Congress a wide-ranging Bill aimed at halting the over-regulation of ‘legal ivory’.  If adopted the Bill would specifically end what is, in effect, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s unilateral ban on the import of lawfully possessed ivory.  Impediments to internal trade and legitimate ownership would also be overturned.  Equally, the Bill would lead to significant efforts being funded to assist anti-poaching efforts in countries with at risk elephant populations.

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21 April 2015

Ivory: no closer to an outbreak of common sense in the US?

Mirror Back, French (possibly Paris), 1350-75.  Metropolitan Museum of Art There are still no signs of a pragmatic dialogue on the impact of Director’s Order 210 (February 2014) breaking out in the public arena. The fact that there are ‘sides’…

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5 February 2015

Ivory: a ray of sunshine from Alaska

A bipartisan bill was introduced into the House of Representatives yesterday to protect lawful ivory possession. ‘… the legislation, the African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possesion Act of 2015, would effectively end the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s unilateral…

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29 November 2014

Ivory: the debate on the USA’s ban continues, but with inadequate progress

It is nearly ten months since President Obama’s executive order heralded a de facto ban in the USA on the import of works of art made of, or containing ivory.  Now, in some administrative and political circles, it is increasingly understood that the applauded effort to stamp out the trade in tusks from the endangered African elephant has had an unfair and unintended impact on the commercial movement of historic works of art.

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26 August 2014

The use of ivory in historic works of art: what does the public think?

There is simply no doubt that the public derides the slaughter of endangered species, specifically the African elephant.  What is equally certain is that there is no comparable, deeply felt outcry against works of art made of or using ivory. …

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8 August 2014

Antique ivory: the cup appears half full

Reading hourly of the human cost of events around the globe, it is sometimes hard to worry too much about ivory.  But in ‘our’ small world it is a significant issue, and one that we should continue to address.  Although throughout the States many are enjoying vacations, lobbying efforts in Washington and elsewhere continue unabated.

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22 June 2014

Ivory: the latest developments are not a cause for optimism

A hearing of the Congressional Oversight Committee in Washington, scheduled for 26 June, will take evidence on the proposed (in reality de facto) ban in the United States on the commercial movement of antique cultural objects made of or containing…

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8 June 2014

More on ivory: resisting the law of unintended consequences

There is evidence that, little by little, the Fish & Wildlife Service is coming to appreciate that those who study, display in museums, and collect works of art that happen to be made of (or incorporate) ivory are equally committed…

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