Understanding CITES for safe selling

The elephant in the room

The purpose of this blog is not to debate the ethics or morals of animal slaughter but to inform of the legalities around handling Ivory, and indeed other restricted goods,  in all its formats.
Any pictures posted here are for information only and no item here is for sale.
As you are aware  ALL Ivory sales on the Talking Antiques site are FORBIDDEN …..
The sales of Ivory, in the UK are under scrutiny and only CITES certificated pieces are sold in auction, and even these have to be sold only to countries who accept both this certification, and it’s import.
citesThe British law is pinned on the new CITES amendments but not  passed yet ( our British government is a bit busy at the moment)
But Customs and Excise  are warning us in Britain , so it is hoped that many dealers, ( hopefully everyone) are pulling their ivory from shelves if it does not have a CITES certificate.. But because of the extra restrictions on export and import …it is perhaps deemed wise not to buy and sell at all, regardless.
At this juncture it is important to note that the powers of C&E are wider and greater than that of the police or other officials.
The amendment to CITES will include a percentage calculation to include items that contain less than ( 30%) ?  being exempt if antique  …..
However it must be noted that modified Ivory is considered modern.. So removing a base from an antique statue is still a modification etc,
The purpose of the call for the ban is to nip in the bud the desire for any Ivory …thereby cutting the throats ( pardon the intended pun) of those who export illegal modern pieces…
As I said before it is ” the essence of the law” that needs understanding …..
To make a total ban implies cutting off the supply of any Ivory and therefore the demand for it…. The essence is that by making something unavailable, you then change people’s mindset.
Whether  it can be put into practise is another matter….
Whether it’s right to is also another matter..
Whether it would work is a third matter
These moves are on the back of the new additions to the CITES recommendations which contains restrictions on some previously unlisted animals, plants, etc.,
It is imperative that we all take in board the ” essence of the law” which is to to kill demand and thereby restrict supply.
Unfortunately this topic is so emotive…that some folk deem that they cannot discuss it properly, or choose to ignore it. But this is not a ” game”  we are talking about..this is  business on a grand scale..
Millions of pounds, dollars, yen, rand, are invested into wildlife and the protection of it ( no politics here, just economic fact) and the prevention of its illegal exploitation so if we are to trade, or deal in antiques ..no matter if it’s on a small scale or a grand scale …….then it  must be done so properly, legally and conscientiously.
It is necessary to understand that the whole purpose of both CITES and the individual country adoption on banned items is done to prevent the demand and so to ultimately protect all types of species…
There is also a new move on the use of fossil Ivory in the USA as well as the current restrictions in place on old and new Ivory.
The current laws on Canada on walrus Ivory and  its “new working ” is under consideration..and even if the item can be legally sold from an area, there is no guarantee that an importing country will allow its shipping.
Understanding and identifying marine Ivory in all its forms including Narwal and fossil Ivory in the form of mammoth is essential in correct identification of items for sale.
There are presently 183 countries involved in CITES…
And there is a list of countries who are processing through to ratification ,
So let’s put cards on the table ( not a rosewood one, of course) …
We are talking about the selling of rare items which include some  types of exotic woods …also..
The use of mammal skins and scales, ( not just furs… ) like pangolin or certain types of turtles …(and by the way please don’t say zebra aren’t endangered …Greves are!  ) and plants ( and therefore pressed specimens of them are to be looked at now if they are on this endangered list.)..in excess of 35, 000 and rising ….and .that includes a taxonomy of different subspecies), the use of marine items like corals and shells ( regional variations need to be checked here) . The taxidermy of exotic species of mammals, and the mounting of some butterflies and moths.
Jewellery in the form of tiger claws are also now requiring CITES certificates for sale, although ownership of these is not illegal.
It is essential that research on these in the correct government websites is followed.
On an international site  it is important for folk to take on board that many countries have extra import and export restrictions as well, therefore it is suggested  that if you are selling an item that you are unsure of in its makeup, you need to be mindful of these restrictions when posting items for sale….. Having an item for sale pulled by Customs could result in a heavy fine, and some purchases and sales do carry a prison sentence .
Your particular country may indeed only have some, or a few of these restrictive laws of import or export in place, but understanding that there are these restrictions, not just on alcohol, drugs, weapons, tobacco, that exist …is paramount to being professional.

This blog is written for information only, and Of course one may decide to ignore this advice, but unfortunately, this particular ” elephant does not leave the room”!

Hi, I’m Helen Chugg, Antique Dealer and lecturer….. I trade and  I teach antiques to students and mature College folk, and having been doing so for over 30 years.
I sell through a physical shop in Barnstaple, Devon, England with all my own stock and have been trading locally in this way, also doing  international markets and fairs.  I have an eclectic and varied stock at Selected Antiques & Trinkets on Facebook ..and in the Talking Antiques shop, using the same name.
Our ever changing range of small, interesting and unusual items spans all periods of history, and items range from mid range antique gold and contemporary silver jewellery to an assortment of toys, collectables, ephemera, pottery , porcelain and glass.
You can find me on Facebook and here is my Talking Antiques Shop