A group of japanese chinese ivory carvings okimono

New Rulings on Ivory Trade Affecting Appraisers, Antique Dealers, Collectors, Museums

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a final ruling and revisions to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) regarding the African Elephant taking effect on June 6, 2016.

The almost complete ban on elephant ivory trading takes into account activities that do not contribute to elephant poaching and illegal trade in ivory while ensuring that the U.S. market is not contributing to the current poaching crisis. These activities include the movement of ivory for law enforcement and bona fide scientific purposes, and the noncommercial movement of certain items, such as museum specimens and musical instruments containing antique ivory or ivory removed from the wild prior to the listing of African elephants under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Prohibiting such activities would not benefit elephant conservation.

The ESA also provides an exemption for antiques meeting the following criteria:
1.      It is 100 years or older.
2.      It is composed in whole or in part of an ESA-listed species.
3.      It has not been repaired or modified with an ESA-listed species after December 27, 1973.
4.      It is being or was brought in to the United States through a port designated for the import of endangered species antiques.

Provenance and age may be determined through a detailed history of the item, including but not limited to, family photos, ethnographic fieldwork, art history publications, or other information that authenticates the article and assigns the work to a known period of time or, where possible, to a known artist or craftsman. A qualified appraisal, which may include using information in catalogs, price lists, and other similar materials that document the age by establishing the origin of the item, can also be used.

The final rule provides an exemption from prohibitions on selling or offering for sale in interstate and foreign commerce for certain manufactured items that contain a small (de minimis) amount of ivory – 200-grams. The item must also meet another set of criteria. Read the ruling [Revisions to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Special Rule for the African Elephant to learn more: Click here to download a pdf   Review examples [photos] of ivory objects that illustrate the “de minimis” exemption: Click here to download this pdf   Here’s an example:  I have an antique ivory figurine. Under the final rule, will I be able to sell it online? If you can demonstrate that it qualifies as an ESA Antique, you will be able to sell it. However, state laws and online retailer policies may further restrict or prohibit ivory sales. Always consult with your state and the retailer to determine their requirements.

(43) Comments
  1. I bought am Ivory swan in 1967-8 now have no idea if I can sell it as
    I am 82yrs. old and want to get my estate in order and sell some things.
    Where in Canada, Vancouver, B.C. can I get appraisal?

    1. Hello Barbara,
      Thank you for your comment. Please use this website to find a qualified appraiser in British Columbia. I know that Darlene Wong, an ISA Certified appraiser located in Vancouver would be able to help you with your ivory swan. You can find her contact information on “Find Cdn ISA Appraiser” located in the menu at the top of this page. Kelly Juhasz is the president of the Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers.

  2. I am also looking for an appraiser to help me with a carved ivory tusk that has been in the family for many years. I live in Vancouver Canada and do not see anyone on the ISA list that is in my area or specializes in ivory or carvings. Can you please help provide me some assistance.

    1. Hello Brigitte, Thank you for contacting the Canadian Chapter of the ISA. I have sent your inquiry to one of our appraisers located in Vancouver to reach out to you about your ivory tusk. Sincerely, Kelly
      Kelly Juhasz is the president of the Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers.

    1. Hello Nora, Thank you for your question. Yes, currently, ivory brought into Canada prior to 1989 can still be sold within Canada but it cannot be transported out of the country.
      Sincerely, Kelly
      Kelly Juhasz is the president of the Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers.

  3. I am in Toronto. My mother left me a Benares brass tray table which my father purchased in Toronto as a gift for her. The folding wooden base for the table is inlaid with ivory. On principle (I am vehemently against the ivory trade) I will not use this item. Do the laws permit it to be sold? If I cannot sell it legally, it will be given away to a thrift store). Thanks for any guidance you can offer!

    1. Hello Kate, Thank you for your comment. Yes, currently, decorative objects containing ivory brought into Canada prior to 1989 can still be sold within Canada but it cannot be transported out of the country. Here’s some additional information about the laws in Canada:
      The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement which came into force in Canada on July 3rd, 1975 and aims to prevent the over-exploitation of wildlife threatened by excessive international trade and illegal poaching. The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act(WAPPRIITA) is the domestic legislation through which Canada meets its international obligations under CITES. Imports and exports of species listed under CITES are controlled through a permit system. It is illegal to import or export a CITES-listed species, including its parts or products, without the appropriate CITES permits, as regulated by the domestic legislation of countries that implement CITES. Sincerely, Kelly
      Kelly Juhasz is the president of the Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers.

  4. My aunt worked for External Affairs around the world in the 1960’s and she brought back some figurines made of African ivory. Can we sell them now?

    1. Hello Fred, Thank you for your comment. Yes, currently, decorative objects containing ivory brought into Canada prior to 1989 can still be sold within Canada but they cannot be transported out of the country. Here’s some additional information about the laws in Canada:
      The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement which came into force in Canada on July 3rd, 1975 and aims to prevent the over-exploitation of wildlife threatened by excessive international trade and illegal poaching. The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act(WAPPRIITA) is the domestic legislation through which Canada meets its international obligations under CITES. Imports and exports of species listed under CITES are controlled through a permit system. It is illegal to import or export a CITES-listed species, including its parts or products, without the appropriate CITES permits, as regulated by the domestic legislation of countries that implement CITES. One of our members is just preparing some additional information about ivory objects and that should be available shortly. Please check back on the site soon. Sincerely, Kelly
      Kelly Juhasz is the president of the Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers.

  5. I live in New Westminster, BC. In about 1962 a high school boyfriend gave me a tiny red bean with a carved ivory cap and a tiny ivory elephant inside. I do not know where he got it. Can I sell it on craigslist or kijiji?
    Thank you.

    1. Hello Marcia, Thank you for your comment. Yes, you can sell it in whatever manner and venue you like since it has been in your possession prior to 1989, however, you can not ship it outside of Canada. The buyer’s address needs to be a Canadian address.
      Sincerely, Kelly
      Kelly Juhasz is the president of the Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers.

  6. Hello, we have a set of full tusks that were brought home in ’65. We also have a full grown stuffed cheetah. Not looking to sell, but we want to know our options. We live in Toronto, ON

    1. Hello Frank, Thank you for your comment. Dealing with ivory objects isn’t straight forward. The quick answer is this: Ivory objects brought into Canada prior to 1989 can still be sold within Canada, but cannot be transported out of the country. The market within Canada for ivory objects is unpredictable and depends on specific local factors of collectors’ interests and comfort levels of owning objects made from an endangered species.
      For more information, please review our posting: https://www.isa-appraisers.ca/the-market-and-valuation-of-ivory-objects/ Regarding your cheetah, it is best to check under CITES (The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) for which there are many species of cats listed; you can find the link listed in this article. Environment Canada (EC) is the federal government department responsible for implementing CITES. EC regulates the international trade of CITES-listed species through the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). These would need to be reviewed to see how your object is affected. Any paperwork you have on either of these objects would also help in determining your options. You might also want to speak with someone from one of the museums that hold these kinds of objects. Since you are in Toronto, a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum may also be able to share information. That’s all the information that can be stated generally. Each object falling under CITES is managed on a case-by-case basis.

  7. I have three ebony and ivory elephants from the turn of the 20th century to sometime around 1920. These were gifted to me a long time ago. Can these be sold? I also have a small hand carved ivory nude sitting on onyx from the 1920’s. Wondering about this as well. Because of their age, and artistic / antique standing can they be sold and where please. Thank you in advance.
    S

    1. Hello Sammy, Thank you for your comment. Dealing with ivory objects isn’t straight forward. The quick answer is this: Ivory objects brought into Canada prior to 1989 can still be sold within Canada, but cannot be transported out of the country. The market within Canada for ivory objects is unpredictable and depends on specific local factors of collectors’ interests and comfort levels of owning objects made from an endangered species.
      For more information, please review our posting: https://www.isa-appraisers.ca/the-market-and-valuation-of-ivory-objects/ It’s best to work directly with an appraiser. You can search our member list by clicking here: https://www.isa-appraisers.ca/appraiser-search/

  8. My mother has recently died and among her effects is a 15″ long ivory carving purchased in Southeast Asia in 1968.
    Can we have this appraised in Victoria or Vancouver?

    1. Hello Jeff, Thank you for your question. No, it cannot. Ivory cannot be shipped out of the USA nor can it be shipped out of Canada but, at this time, it can be bought and sold within Canada.

  9. Hello. I collect portrait miniatures and wish to buy them from England. They have a special exemption in England due to the very small amount of ivory used and age of at least a 100 years. Are I able to import them into Canada?

    1. Hello Carl, Thank you for your question. As this is an import/export issue, we recommend you consult with a professional transport company who deals with art and artifacts on a regular basis and as a result the associated laws, rules and permits. Some of these are Museum Pros, PACART and Armstrong Fine Art Services. Also, refer to the criteria listed under The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

  10. I found a pair of ivory handled razors in the UK that I’d like to give as a gift. They are antique from the early 1800s. Would they be legal to import onto Canada or not?
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hello, Thank you for your question. As this is an import/export issue, we recommend you consult with a professional transport company who deals with art and artifacts on a regular basis and as a result the associated laws, rules and permits. Some of these are Museum Pros, PACART and Armstrong Fine Art Services. Also, refer to the criteria listed under The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

  11. I am interested in a pair of cold painted bronze bookends being sold at auction, each with an ivory face between 90-100 years old. Am I allowed to send the bookends from Toronto to Florida? They are signed by the artist. Thank you

    1. Hello Jeff, Thank you for contacting the Canadian Chapter of the ISA. It’s best to check with the auction house about shipping before you begin bidding. They will be best to advise you on whether or not the object can be shipped.

  12. Hello, I have a brooch that was given to me many many years ago, it is from the 1940’s -1950’s It is from a Hawaiian store (Ming’s) Brooch.It has a 1.25″ carved African Ivory flower on it. Can I sell it online within Canada or worldwide? Also, what documentation will be required if I sell it within Canada or worldwide?

    1. Hello Lenda, Thank you for contacting the Canadian Chapter of the ISA. Yes, you can sell your item in Canada but I would not try to send it out of the country. No documentation needed for this item to be sold within Canada.

  13. Hello, my mother has passed and left behind some small ivory trinkets and a large elephant tusk with Asian art engraved on it, I am interested in having someone price it out ? Any ideas if there is anyone certified in Hamilton Ontario area ?

    1. Hello Jessie, Thank you for your questions. One of our ISA members holding the appropriate specialization will reach out to you directly.

  14. I have a ivory bracelet, with 18 carat gold head of lion with emerald eyes
    Perfect condition and was told more than likely one of a king
    Made from tusk of elephant
    Getting my estate in order can I sell it

    1. From ISA member, Darlene Wong: Hi Marilynn, Thank you for your question. Yes, you can sell your ivory bracelet but only domestically within Canada. The Canadian government has regulations along with CITES restrictions against export across international borders. A qualified appraisal specialist can help you with identifying the exact type of ivory, the gem materials and provide historic research on your bracelet.

      1. I live in Montreal
        Please could you tell me best person to get in touch with
        I know the lions head is 18 carat yellow gold
        The Ivory is heavy and solid
        Thank you

  15. Hello,
    Can you please tell me if I am allowed to import an antique ivory figure into Canada with the appropriate Cites certificate.
    Many thanks.

    1. Hello Richard, Thank you for contacting the Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers. Qualified appraisers provide assessments based on key characteristics of objects and the markets in which they trade resulting in reports on value. Although many appraisers work with ivory objects, we are not legal or import/export experts and therefore, we are unable to state whether or not any object would be allowed out of or into another country. It is recommended that you work with the dealers of the country where the object is located and government officials in both countries. We also recommend using a professional art shipping company to assist you in completing the required forms for importing and exporting under CITES. Please note, obtaining all the required permissions can take up to six months or longer.

  16. Hi. I just bought a ivory tusk from an estate auction sale in Newfoundland Canada. I know the tusk is from before the 1980’s but I have no proof.
    I am just wondering if it is legal to own in my position?
    I am also wondering if I can re sell it within Canada even though I have no proof of how old it is.

    1. Hello Jordon, Thank you for contacting the Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers. Ivory objects brought into Canada prior to 1989 can still be sold within Canada, but cannot be transported out of the country. The market within Canada for ivory objects is unpredictable and depends on specific local factors of collectors’ interests and comfort levels of owning objects made from an endangered species.

  17. I have an ivory carved necklace that I would love to get appraised. Could see anyone who specializes in ivory. Can you suggest. I live Just outside Vancouver, BC and can travel there easily.

  18. I have possession of a spinet (circa 1775 ) that was brought in to Canada in 1975 when my parents emigrated from the UK to Canada. The keyboard contains ivory.
    It has been bequeathed to my sister who now lives in London, UK.
    Am i able to ship it to the UK from Canada?
    It is presently in Newfoundland.
    Thank you.

    1. Hello Rachel, Qualified appraisers provide assessments based on key characteristics of objects and the markets in which they trade resulting in reports on value. Although many appraisers work with ivory objects, we are not legal or import/export experts and therefore, we are unable to state whether or not any object would be allowed out of or into another country. It is recommended that you work with a professional art shipping company to assist you in completing the required forms for importing and exporting under CITES. Some of these are Museum Pros, PACART, Total Transportation and Armstrong Fine Art Services. Also, refer to the criteria listed under The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Please note, obtaining all the required permissions can take up to six months or longer. Here’s some additional information about the laws in Canada:
      The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (https://www.cites.org/eng/disc/text.php) is an international agreement which came into force in Canada on July 3rd, 1975 and aims to prevent the over-exploitation of wildlife threatened by excessive international trade and illegal poaching. The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act(WAPPRIITA) is the domestic legislation through which Canada meets its international obligations under CITES. Imports and exports of species listed under CITES are controlled through a permit system. It is illegal to import or export a CITES-listed species, including its parts or products, without the appropriate CITES permits, as regulated by the domestic legislation of countries that implement CITES.

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