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Old 27th March 2014, 05:58 PM   #1
Runjeet Singh
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Default US Ban in Ivory - Not all bad news

I have read the fact sheet that was kindly linked on this forum, and to my eyes, it is NOT a blanket ban on all Ethnographical Arms & Armour containing Ivory.

I have copied the main points from the document below and will tackle them one by one:

* Prohibit Commercial Import of African Elephant Ivory: All commercial imports of African elephant ivory, including antiques, will be prohibited.

Yes, without doubt sad news for those collecting/dealing with African items. This IS a blanket ban for ALL African Ivory.

*Prohibit Commercial Export of Elephant Ivory: All commercial exports will be prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, certain noncommercial items, and in exceptional circumstances permitted under the Endangered Species Act.

The important words here are 'bona fide antiques'. In my opinion the only way a US customs official will be convinced of this, is with a CITES certificate. I now always seek CITES permission for all ivory exports and imports. The lead time is 4 - 6 weeks, but sometimes is quicker.

*Significantly Restrict Domestic Resale of Elephant Ivory: We will finalize a proposed rule that will reaffirm and clarify that sales across state lines are prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, and will prohibit sales within a state unless the seller can demonstrate an item was lawfully imported prior to 1990 for African elephants and 1975 for Asian elephants, or under an exemption document.

Again, the golden words 'bona fide antiques'. I'm not a US citizen, but it sounds like they will try to enforce domestic sales/transfers, do they have the manpower to do that? My advice would be to include documental evidence within the parcel for domestic trade.

*Clarify the Definition of “Antique”: To qualify as an antique, an item must be more than 100 years old and meet other requirements under the Endangered Species Act. The onus will now fall on the importer, exporter, or seller to demonstrate that an item meets these criteria.

We have access to lots of books, even on-line museum collections. A printout from the Met New York, or V&A London, of a similar object to the one you are posting, will be easy and powerful evidence that you can place in the parcel.

Even a printout from a commercial website of a reputable dealer will hold some weight.

*Restore Endangered Species Act Protection for African Elephants: We will revoke a previous Fish and Wildlife Service special rule that had relaxed Endangered Species Act restrictions on African elephant ivory trade.

Support Limited Sport-hunting of African Elephants: We will limit the number of African elephant sport-hunted trophies that an individual can import to two per hunter per year.


The last two points require no further comment from me. In conclusion, it is sad for those of us who collect African arms that make use of Ivory, but we should not jump to the conclusion that this is a blanket ban for all areas of Ethnographical collecting, when it is not, and if the correct rules and common sense is used, it may not affect us drastically.

Regards
Runjeet
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Old 27th March 2014, 07:02 PM   #2
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Runjeet, i agree that the new rules are not quite as bleak as some make out, however i do believe that they are a bit more encompassing then you present.
Firstly, African elephant ivory was freely traded throughout the world and can be found on many ethnographic items from areas well beyond Africa, so this does not just effect collectable items from Africa alone.
As you point out, the new ruling prohibits ALL import of African ivory regardless of the age. Where trading in antique items of ivory is permitted "The onus will now fall on the importer, exporter, or seller to demonstrate that an item meets these criteria." AFAIK, this is an expensive process. Since you have sought CITES certificates, perhaps you can tell us how much this process cost you for each item? What does CITES require for proof of antiquity?
Regarding inter or intra-state sales, how many American collectors in this room can easily prove that items they own with African ivory parts were imported before 1990 and with Asian ivory, before 1975? Swords and knives picked up at gun shows, antique malls or eBay rarely, if ever, come with acceptable provenance or documentation of antiquity. The "documental evidence" you speak of is generally nonexistent and impossible to obtain at this point in time.
I agree that the government probably does not have the man power to police in country sales at shows and antique malls, but all it takes is for one person to "drop a dime" on a show and i am pretty sure they will show up to prosecute.
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Old 27th March 2014, 07:07 PM   #3
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Runjeet, that's a solid interpretation - it is not a ban on commercial trade as such - rather a restriction. The overarching goal here is to make sure that no items harvested and worked post-CITES finds commercial use, so only certified (pre-CITES/pre Appendix I listing of Afr. Elephant) can be found on the commercial market.

Personally, I think the restriction on the export of antiques sucks! The only sensible reason I can think of, is that very few CITES M.A.'s (nevermind customs agents) are capable of accurately dating pieces with worked ivory - even though they've often been taught the theory, they simply lack the foundation of reference experiences you accumulate from looking at a lot of old stuff. If the border check is not able to verify that the item in hand is the one on the CITES-export permit, there is a risk that new ivory will be whitewashed this way.

I would wildly speculate that this problem isn't super significant in the overall picture though. They are just speculations, as it's limited how much Elephant goes through our customs here in Denmark. We mostly see marine ivory due to our ex-colonial connection to Greenland.

I guess most of you already know, but I work at the office of the CITES M.A. in Denmark and have a pretty good idea of how the legislation works. If anyone needs any help, contact info for their national CITES-office, etc. feel free to write me and I'll hook you up!


Cheers, Thor
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Old 27th March 2014, 07:15 PM   #4
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Btw, the new U.S. national restrictions don't seem worse than how it's implemented here in the EU through Council Resolution in 1997 - actually you could argue that it's in fact more lenient, as (at least from how I read it) intra-state trade will still be legal without permits. In the EU you need a permit to sell pre-CITES ivory anywhere in the member states. On the other hand, the EU date for the definition of antique - and hence permissible for intra-EU trade without the need for permits cuts at 1947 - so I guess it depends on how you look at it.

Last edited by T. Koch; 27th March 2014 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 27th March 2014, 08:06 PM   #5
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David, Thor,

Thanks for your responses. David, yes, you are right, I look at this subject with tunnel vision, of course there are our friends on the European forum and others who are also affected by this.

The cost to apply in the UK for an export licence has actually come down from £47 to £37. The difference I believe is that £37 is per item, and £47 was unlimited items on one application.

It's great to hear from Toch who gives an insiders optimistic view!

Regards
Runjeet
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Old 27th March 2014, 11:32 PM   #6
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THE PROBLEM WILL COME FROM THE LEGAL PREMISE THAT EVERY IVORY ITEM IS ILLEGAL UNTIL THE OWNER PROVES IT THRU DOCUMENTATION THAT THE AGENTS CHOOSE TO ACCEPT AT THEIR DESCRETION. THE TRAINING OF AGENTS WILL NO DOUBT STRESS HARSH ENFORCMENT AND GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT AND ALL PROOF SUSPECT OR TO BE IGNORED.
ALL IVORY ITEMS I HAVE ARE LEGAL BUT I AM SURE WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN DOWN ABOUT WHEN, WHERE AND HOW I GOT THEM WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS PROOF BY ANY GOVERNMENT ENFORCMENT PEOPLE. HOW MANY ANTIQUE ITEMS IN OUR COLLECTIONS ARE LEGALLY DOCUMENTED TO BE OVER 100 YEARS OLD. NOT MANY ALTHOUGH I PERSONALLY KNOW THRU EXPERIENCE WHICH ONES ARE I DOUBT I COULD PROVE IT TO THE SATISFACTION OF AN AGENT WHO WOULD NO DOUBT CONSIDER ME A BAD GUY FOR HAVING PROHIBITED IVORY. EVEN ITEMS I HAVE PERSONALLY HAD IN MY POSESSION SINCE PRE BAN TIMES WOULD ONLY HAVE MY WORD AND PERHAPS WRITTEN INFORMATION WHICH WILL BE WORTH NOTHING AS LEGAL PROOF.
I AM FOR THE PROTECTION OF ANIMAL AND PLANT SPECIES AND PROPER MANAGMENT OF THEIR NATURAL HABITATS; I TOO ABHOR WHAT IS DONE BY POACHERS AND FEEL THEY SHOULD BE DELT WITH HARSHLY. BUT OFTEN LAWS SUCH AS THIS ONE DON'T STOP THE POACHERS BUT CAN SINGLE OUT COLLECTORS THE WORLD OVER NOT ENVOLVED IN POACHING AT ALL. TO OWN A ITEM MADE OF IVORY SHOULD NOT MAKE YOU AS GUILTY AS A POACHER OR SMUGGLER.
TO RISK CONFISCATION, A HUGE FINE AND PRISION TRYING TO SELL AN OLD IVORY ITEM TO SOMEONE WHO WOULD APPRECIATE AND CHERISH IT AS I HAVE FOR YEARS OR JUST TO BURN IT LIKE THE MANY TONS OF CONFISCATED IVORY BURNS EACH YEAR TO AVOID THE TROUBLE. NO DOUBT EXAMPLES WILL BE MADE AND LIVES RUINED INNOCENT AS WELL AS GUILTY. AND PERHAPS A VERY SAD ENDING FOR SOME BEAUTIFUL OLD WORKS OF IVORY ART.
GOOD WELL INFORMED MANAGMENT AND USE OF RESOURCES FOCUSED IN THE AREAS WHERE THEY CAN DO THE MOST GOOD IS MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE THAN DESTRUCTION OF VALUABLE RESOURCES AND LAWS SUCH AS THIS VAUGE ALL ENCOMPASSING ONE.
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Old 28th March 2014, 12:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Akaalarms
The cost to apply in the UK for an export licence has actually come down from £47 to £37. The difference I believe is that £37 is per item, and £47 was unlimited items on one application.
Runjeet, £37 per item for the export license. But how do you prove to them that the item is indeed antique. Is CITES making that appraisal for you for the licensing fee or do you need to have an outside agency assess the ivory as antique first. Perhaps Thor has a better understanding of this having worked for CITES.
And Thor, just to get this straight, that is a complete ban on IMPORT of antique ivory into the United States, not export. That means that no matter what documentation the antique piece receives it can be stopped at the border and confiscated. Frankly i have no issues with banning post-CITES ivory. It is antique weapons that most of us collect so the ivory on them is usually antique as well. Our collecting habits will not be affected much on bans on post-CITES ivory.
Also, i'm not sure you read the ruling on intra-state trade correctly.
"We will finalize a proposed rule that will reaffirm and clarify that sales across state lines are prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, and will prohibit sales within a state unless the seller can demonstrate an item was lawfully imported prior to 1990 for African elephants and 1975 for Asian elephants, or under an exemption document. "
Again, i don't think that most of the collectors here will readily be able to "demonstrate an item was lawfully imported prior to 1990 for African elephants and 1975 for Asian elephants" so that does indeed make intra-state trade difficult if not officially illegal.
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Old 28th March 2014, 12:07 AM   #8
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Hi David,

I have been self certifying for a long time, so my appraisals are acceptable to them (with supporting evidence). But for those who have not applied before I believe independent assessments are required.

Thor may well be able to give more detail on this.

Regards,
Runjeet
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Old 28th March 2014, 01:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Akaalarms
I have been self certifying for a long time, so my appraisals are acceptable to them (with supporting evidence). But for those who have not applied before I believe independent assessments are required.
And there sir, lies the rub, as they say. You are a regular dealer. The average collector will not be so certified and the costs to have such of an assessment done by an outside expert on top of the cost of the CITES licensing will be prohibitive to many.
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Old 28th March 2014, 11:44 AM   #10
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David,

I understand your scepticism and frustration for these new laws. But I started somewhere, just a young collector, and I successfully obtained a CITES certificate with the help of a established dealer in the UK.

I am sure if we look back at this thread in 12 months, and probably wonder what all the fuss was about.

I am happy to help where I can, and I know Thor has also offered his guidance.

Regards,
Runjeet

P.S. I'm not sure I like the tag of 'regular dealer'! I prefer 'seasoned collector and experienced dealer'.
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Old 28th March 2014, 03:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Akaalarms
David,

I understand your scepticism and frustration for these new laws. But I started somewhere, just a young collector, and I successfully obtained a CITES certificate with the help of a established dealer in the UK.

I am sure if we look back at this thread in 12 months, and probably wonder what all the fuss was about.

I am happy to help where I can, and I know Thor has also offered his guidance.

Regards,
Runjeet

P.S. I'm not sure I like the tag of 'regular dealer'! I prefer 'seasoned collector and experienced dealer'.
Runjeet, forgive me, but you have a website, linked in your profile, where you regularly sell edged weapons. I didn't mean it as a bad word nor to over-shadow the fact that you are also a seasoned collector, merely stating a reality. ;-)
Most of us here are merely collectors who might occasionally wish to dispose of an item in our collections for one reason or another. Most of us here don't specifically collect ivory items and only occasionally encounter it on weapons we either want or own. Most of us here are not going to want to jump through all the hoops necessary to obtain a CITES certification for the very few times we might want to dispose of an ivory decorated sword or knife. And most of us here in the USA are concerned that we will no longer be able to obtain ANY weapon from overseas that uses elephant ivory because that is outright banned regardless of ANY proper paperwork. Frankly i get the large majority of my collections from overseas. Unless that part of the new rules change this will indeed still be a problem worth fussing about in 12 months i'm afraid.
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Old 28th March 2014, 05:30 PM   #12
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No offence taken David, I'm proud of my chosen profession!

As far as the new Ivory laws are concerned, I suppose 'the proof will be in the pudding' - does that translate to American (or the rest of the world)!!

Regards,
Runjeet
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Old 3rd April 2014, 01:19 AM   #13
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After much consideration, I would suggest that American collectors and dealers contact their representatives and senators, even the president to make sure they at least hear our voice regarding the problem of "across state lines" issue and the problem of providing documentation for pre-ban ivory.

Outside of that, I completely agree with saving God's creatures and stopping the illegal ivory trade.
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Old 3rd April 2014, 05:35 AM   #14
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That's not a bad idea José…and i think we all can agree that the senseless slaughter of elephants for their ivory needs to stop.
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Old 5th April 2014, 05:24 AM   #15
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The U.S. ban on ivory is only the first step;" Federal agents ,art experts, and museum curators," raided the home of a 91 year old collector in Indiana and seized the collection that he had acquired over 8 decades.The man has not been charged, but the "experts," are determining what items should be given back to the "Indian tribes, Russians, Chinese, Etc.."
Need I say more ?
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Old 5th April 2014, 11:09 AM   #16
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Heres an article about it Drac2k... explains the recent background of the action taken against Amateur archaeologists/dealers/collectors of American cultural artefacts.

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Old 5th April 2014, 12:31 PM   #17
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Thanks for posting the link;whereas it might "explain," the actions it does not justify them.What tribe does a Paleolithic or Neolithic point belong to ?
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Old 5th April 2014, 02:17 PM   #18
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Soft targets are easy to hit, meek and in general law abiding. Actions like this miss the point. Just like most crime the real criminals ,big players, like tax dodgers ect still carry on making big gains. Like you take cash for a small job fixing somebodies dripping tap "occasionally but keep good books" where as Mr Big in the city hides away many thousands. Who are they going to give his collection back too????? do they have any real idea????
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Old 5th April 2014, 03:11 PM   #19
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Amazing, alarming - thanks for posting. Does anyone know exactly what cultural artefacts cannot be collected/owned in the USA ? Not restricted to only Native American material, is there a clear definition ?
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Old 5th April 2014, 04:52 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drac2k
Thanks for posting the link;whereas it might "explain," the actions it does not justify them.What tribe does a Paleolithic or Neolithic point belong to ?

That's why I used the word explain, not justify.

In the UK most items belong to who owns the land its found on unless its Gold. Then the state can claim it & give you the amount they decide its worth. {usually a lot less than it would be on an open market.}

By the way, I have some mostly English Paleolithic,mesolithic & Neolithic artefacts myself.

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Old 5th April 2014, 06:52 PM   #21
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As I duly noted.
Probably you don't have a big Jute or Pict lobby contesting ownership of those items. In this country we have many politically active Indian tribes who believe that anything pointy, knapped from stone belongs to them, even though it might have been there 10,000 years before they settled in the area.
Recently the treasure of a wrecked Spanish galleon, plundered from South America, found off the coast of North America, was taken from the salvage company who discovered it and returned to Spain by a U.S. court.
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Old 5th April 2014, 09:19 PM   #22
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O dear, that sounds a silly as some of our court cases.... They don't give up anything of great value to other country's here though. {Unless theres an ulterior political motive of course.}

The one line information bulletins are fascinating, rather like newspaper headlines, I generally prefer more information before coming to a knee jerk, bandwagon jumping decision though.

Interestingly The currant land owners in the UK, were not the people who owned the land 2000 years ago even... {They were all Roman. }

But sadly for the last few hundred years possibly a thousand in some cases the same few families still own the majority of the land in the UK.

And there not descended from the stone age tribesmen who made them...{DNA shows them {The indiginous stone age peoples}. to be related to poorest local communities here still.}

For Instance...

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Old 5th April 2014, 09:32 PM   #23
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No political commentary or I will close this thread, gentlemen. Thanks.
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Old 5th April 2014, 09:52 PM   #24
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Apologies for stepping near the line without realising Andrew.

Back to the ivory laws & peoples fears...!

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Old 8th April 2014, 06:20 PM   #25
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I am sending Robert the latest news I could acquire on the new ivory bans, including CITIES and ESA language.

I am very disheartened by it all, for precisely the same reasons many of you have mentioned.

There are several blogs on the net that indicate there will be some push back on this and apparently there is an big meeting on the issues of the ban later in April with many detractors expected to be in attendance. Keep in mind we are only a small part of the collecting and antique community concerned. We ARE NOT ALONE!

I am assuming Robert will add the info onto the 'sticky' regarding the new ivory ban. The file will not attach here.

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Old 9th April 2014, 03:54 PM   #26
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It does get worse.
See http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?def...tions=Y&Text=Y
This seems to ban not only the import, export, buying and selling in NY State of ALL ivory (i.e including marine and mammoth ivory etc.) but also it's "distribution" which presumably means you cannot even give it away.
I hate to say it, but I think we should all prepare ourselves for the day when ownership of unlicensed ivory or other CITES type products becomes illegal, and of course licensing will be made damn near impossible. I don't expect it will be banned completely tho', the licensing officers would object to that.
Regretfully
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Old 10th April 2014, 07:30 PM   #27
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Doesn't look good.

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Old 10th April 2014, 11:44 PM   #28
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WHAT WOULD BE THE USE OF PAYING THE FEES AND DOING THE PAPERWORK ON IVORY IF YOU STILL COULD NOT SELL IT OR WILL IT TO YOUR FAMILY TO SELL. TO DO SO WOULD ONLY GIVE THE ATHORITYS MONEY AND A GOOD LIST OF WHAT YOU HAD AND ITS PRICE AND ALL OTHER INFORMATION. THEN WHEN YOU DIE IT CAN ALL BE CONFISCATED OR MORE FEES CHARGED TO THE FAMILY. THIS DOES THE ELEPHANTS LITTLE GOOD BUT DOES REMOVE VALUABLE ART AND MONEY FROM COLLECTORS AND I AM SURE SOMEONE WILL PROFIT FROM IT. TO STEAL (CONFISCATE) LEGALLY IS STILL STEALING.
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Old 11th April 2014, 12:13 AM   #29
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Well, whether you like them or not, the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action is in on this now, and very much against the ban.

I think it is well known that they carry some sway in Congress.

http://www.nraila.org/news-issues/fa...act-sheet.aspx
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Old 11th April 2014, 07:15 AM   #30
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There is one thing that history demonstrates to be unarguably true:-

when anything is banned by law or authority it becomes desirable and the price rises accordingly

Possibly the most prominent example of the truth of this dictum is alcohol prohibition in the USA of 80 or so years ago, but numerous other examples can be found without too much effort.

In respect of ivory, in Indonesia during the 1970's and some of the 1980's ivory keris hilts were not inevitably more expensive than wooden keris hilts. The factors that did inevitably increase price were quality of workmanship and rarity of form. This meant that wooden keris hilts of excellent quality or rare form were always more expensive than common or run-of-the-mill ivory hilts.

Since the bans on trade in ivory have come into force the value of ivory keris hilts has risen to what many would regard as an unreasonable level, but the fact remains that hilts are highly sought after at these seemingly unreasonable prices.

If this proposed legislation against sale/exchange/possession of ivory does come into force in the USA it will have one very predictable effect:-

the value of ivory on the black market will rise to highly unreasonable levels

Collectors will still collect it, people wanting to sell will still sell it, but because of the attendant risk, prices will rise.

As for the unfortunate business of the possible illegal possession of ethnographic and/or historic artifacts, the same will apply.

If any serious moves were to be made in this particular area, the place to start is with public collections, and on a world basis, perhaps the Elgin Marbles might be the lynch pin that needs to removed in order to give legitimacy to this philosophy of "return to source".
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