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    Alty's Avatar
    Alty Posts: 28,318, Reputation: 5972
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    Nov 5, 2016, 02:25 PM
    Selling ivory
    I'm watching a documentary called The Ivory Game on Netflix, and the butchering of Elephants to supply illegal ivory to China, where ivory is actually legal to sell.

    If you know me you know my love of all animals. Elephants are a favorite, just such majestic creatures, so beautiful, and the fact that they're being killed for their tusks is just nauseating to me. They say that if things don't change, if they can't stop the illegal ivory trade, we could lose African Elephants, they could be extinct in as little as 15 years from now.

    Now comes my question. I have an antique tea pot with an ivory handle and ivory top. It was given to my parents over 30 years ago from friends in Germany, they had it for over 50 years and it was passed down from generation to generation. The bottom was scratched up so I couldn't see the markings, the maker, etc. But I found a silver cleaning DIY online and when I used it it not only cleaned the silver, it revealed the markings. I have since found out that this teapot is from the 1800's, and there is a Silver only counterpart, exactly like mine without the ivory handle and topper, selling for 15,000 pounds.

    I want to sell this piece. Not only could we use the money, but I just don't want it in my house because of the ivory.

    So my question is, I live in Canada, where selling ivory is illegal, but is it illegal to sell a piece that's this old, that you didn't purchase? How strict is this law? If it's shown and proven that the piece is an antique, is it still illegal to sell it, or is it just new pieces?

    I've been looking everywhere online and I can't find out whether it's legal for me to sell this thing, or if I'm stuck with it forever.
    J_9's Avatar
    J_9 Posts: 40,250, Reputation: 5641

    Nov 5, 2016, 02:57 PM
    Most likely you could sell the entire piece as a whole. The issue comes when you separate the ivory from the teapot. For example, you can sell a piano with ivory keys, but you can't sell the keys separate from the piano.
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
    current pert

    Nov 5, 2016, 03:13 PM
    The US Dept of Environmental Protection lists what you can sell. The laws change periodically. I'm pretty sure that Canada has the same laws.
    The last I knew, you could sell objects that have a certain maximum amount of ivory, and I seem to recall 5%.
    You should be able to find the law under the dot CA website that pertains to endangered species.
    You might have to know if it's African or Indian, aside from how old it is.
    Many antique dealers know how to measure the arch of the tiny lines. Mammoth ivory looks a lot like elephant ivory. Sites like ebay don't allow any ivory at all anymore, because so many sellers were lying.
    Alty's Avatar
    Alty Posts: 28,318, Reputation: 5972
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    Nov 5, 2016, 03:36 PM
    Thanks guys.

    J9, I would definitely sell it as a whole, it's valuable on two levels, its antiquity and the ivory it has, so I definitely wouldn't destroy it to only sell the ivory, because it's beautiful as a whole and valuable even without the ivory.

    Joypulv, thank you for the info. I guess I'll have to make a few inquires. Sadly the ivory is more than 5% of the piece, more like 20% of the piece.

    As for knowing if it's African or Indian, I have no idea how I'd go about finding out which it is. It's from the 1800's, I have no paperwork with it, nothing other than the mark underneath it to verify that it's an antique.

    The story that was told to my parents when their friends sent it over, was that it was bought on the black market many many years ago, and that's why the markings on the bottom were scratched out, to cover who made it, and protect the person that stole it. Not sure I believe that story, but the markings were indeed scratched out, until I did my little diy silver cleaning which minimized the scratches and allowed me to see the markings, the maker, and everything else I needed to find out what it's worth and look online for it. It turned out to be very easy to find, which isn't always the case with antiques.

    At the very least, if it were just silver (which it is), it would be worth 15,000 pounds as an antique (I found it's twin online a few years ago, without the ivory handle and topper, damaged with a crack on the lid which mine doesn't have, minus the ivory which mine has, but the same teapot from the same maker and it sold for 15,000 pounds). But with the ivory handle and little topper on the lid, it's worth so much more, not only as an antique, but because of the ivory which can no longer legally be sold anywhere but China.

    And now I feel like a poacher even though I didn't kill the elephant that supplied the ivory on this antique, I didn't buy it, but still I will get more for it because of that ivory.

    I feel a bit sick about this now. :(
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,267, Reputation: 7689

    Nov 5, 2016, 04:30 PM
    If you are really against the ivory trade, then you would not want to sell the ivory, since even doing such on older ivory is still selling ivory.

    Perhaps you donate it to a museum
    Alty's Avatar
    Alty Posts: 28,318, Reputation: 5972
    Pets Expert

    Nov 5, 2016, 05:35 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Fr_Chuck View Post
    If you are really against the ivory trade, then you would not want to sell the ivory, since even doing such on older ivory is still selling ivory.

    Perhaps you donate it to a museum
    Chuck, I both agree and disagree. If I were wealthy enough to give it up, I would donate it. Sadly, the money I could get for it would help us, and our kids, and the dog rescues I support. So no, I won't donate it. I am against the ivory trade, but the elephant that died for this ivory died hundreds of years ago. Donating it so a museum can make money by having it in it's possession?

    I care about all animals, but to me, this isn't supporting the ivory trade right now. This ivory was harvested a very very long time ago. The money I make from it can help my family tremendously, and allow me to donate to the animal rescues I'm involved with. This teapot can literally save hundreds of dogs in places like Brazil, China, and many others. Especially China, where they beat dogs and then kill them for festivals! Also the only place where ivory is still legal to buy and sell. Sickening!

    If it were a new piece with ivory, then I wouldn't even have it. I didn't buy it, it was inherited, and selling it can give us the chance to do a lot of good, so no, no museum unless they want to buy it from me.
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
    current pert

    Nov 5, 2016, 07:11 PM
    I see nothing to feel guilty about, either owning it or selling it.
    I have an ivory statue of Quan Yin, the Chinese goddess of compassion and mercy. I have an ivory netsuke. I would sell both, but don't know where, except to an antique dealer illegally.

    Here's ebay policy. You wouldn't be able to ship out of Canada, even if it were only 5% ivory.
    Animals and wildlife products policy
    Alty's Avatar
    Alty Posts: 28,318, Reputation: 5972
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    Nov 7, 2016, 04:37 PM
    Thanks Joy. Great info. I appreciate it. Had to spread the rep but definitely a helpful post. :)

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