Should Ethics Play a Part In Auction Sales?

Friday 14th June 2019 -


Should Ethics Play a Part In Auction Sales?

Should auctioneers refuse to sell morally & ethically questionable items, or should buyers be able to make up their own mind?

*Image from Tennants

The world seems to have developed a stronger sense of morals lately. We have seen a ban on ivory, auctioneers pulling items from sales because they offend such as Nazi memorabilia and now there has been outcry over an auction of stuffed animals.


Is this political correctness gone mad, or is it time that we started taking a stand against things that are obtained inhumanely or promote inhumanity?


The most recent case is the sale of stuffed animals, which critics say promotes the purchase of dead creatures becoming souvenirs.


Prompted by a campaign to ban the despicable act of trophy hunting a stuffed lioness with an estimate of £3,500 was withdrawn from the sale. Lionesses are killed for their bones which are used in Chinese medicine. The skin is then stuffed and sold as a profitable by-product.


The auctioneer, Tennants said that none of the stuffed animals included in the sale were killed by trophy hunters, and they are acting entirely within the law.


Whilst they say they are ‘completely satisfied the lionesses are not hunting trophies, these items have been withdrawn’.


Other stuffed animals in the sale, however, are still available to purchase. These include a zebra head, a full cougar body, a full black bear body, a bin made from an elephant’s foot and a giraffe’s head and neck among other things.


Of course, it’s not illegal to buy or sell these items, so the auctioneer is doing nothing wrong. But the ethics of it are what is coming into question. Personally, I don’t see the attraction of owning part of a dead animal, but there are plenty of collectors out there that enjoy taxidermy.


Likewise, there are collectors of other historical items such as Nazi memorabilia and ivory containing items who feel like the influx in calls to ban sales of certain items are becoming ridiculous.


Questionable activities have occurred throughout history. While we may no longer partake or agree with them, the items do exist. So, should there be a ban on sales like this? Should auctioneers take a moral stance with certain items or, like the Facebook memes say should we just scroll past things we do not like?


Everyone has their own opinion on a number of things. Should we be enforcing rules on what is or isn’t acceptable with a view to stopping illegal or inhumane activities?  Or, will this just push the trade underground to the black market?


Morals and ethics pose many difficult questions, the opinions of people change over the years and more and more people now have a platform to make a change to this planet. What are your thoughts…? Let us know on our social media channels.