Some Antiques Will Be Exempt From The Ivory Ban

Monday 21st May 2018 - Della Bentham


Some Antiques Will Be Exempt From The Ivory Ban

A ban on ivory will be imposed in the UK, with some exceptions for specific antiques. Find out more here...

It’s a subject that causes controversy; should antique ivory be completely banned?


One side of the fence believes anything containing ivory should be banned, as this is the only way to stop it being desirable and to prevent modern ivory items being sold as ‘antique’ to circumvent the ban of ivory. The other side of the fence believes that antiques should be exempt, as they are a part of our cultural heritage, and have already been created prior to the ban.


Either way, people’s views on the subject are strong, often causing heated debates and both points of view make sense. Does destroying something that has already been created make any sense, but on the other side of the coin no animal deserves to die and if a blanket ban is the only way of preventing this, should it be enforced?


According to Stop Ivory, an elephant is slaughtered for their ivory every 15 minutes.


There has been talk of a ban for a while now, with a lot of factors to consider it’s understandably a tricky piece of legislation to pass, but The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that a ban on the sale in ivory objects will be introduced as soon as legislation can be passed.


There will be some specific categories of antiques that will be restricted from the ban, they include:


  • Musical instruments made before 1975 which contain less than 20% ivory. This includes pianos with ivory keys and violins with ivory in their bows.
  • Furniture which contains less than 10% ivory and was made before 1947 will be exempt. This will mainly be furniture decorated with designs that contain ivory.
  • Portrait miniatures painted over and including 100 years ago will be exempt. These were often painted on thin slices of ivory.


In order to preserve cultural heritage museums will be allowed to buy and/or sell ivory items, as a number of ivory pieces are classed as having “historic, artistic or cultural values.” Understandably Defra wants to exclude these items from the ban, they are working closely with experts and museums to identify these pieces.


Anyone that wishes to sell exempt ivory items will be required by law to register the pieces on a database. It is hoped that these measures will make the ivory trade undesirable, but more countries need to sign up in order for it to truly have an effect.


John Stephenson, Stop Ivory’s CEO says: “The existence of this “legal” trade provides a hiding place for illegal ivory, and undermines the message that only when the buying stops will the killing stop. Time is running out: the trade must stop now. China and the UK have shown the way - the EU and other countries must follow."


So, what do you think, do these measures go far enough? Or, is a blanket ban the only way?