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The battle rages on classifying what is ivory, what is bone, ivorine, horn and so on. It seems obvious that to enforce any sort of blanket ban including antiques, would be wrong and will not serve the aim of conserving elephants. When ever anything gets banned, it’s value increases and the banned produce gets channelled into the hands of criminals who have greater resources to continue any contraband substances to be trafficked.


To clarify certain terms, the following may be useful. Ivory, the natural substance which is under discussion , does not always come from elephants, it can include other many animals or mammal’s with: horns, tusks and teeth even our teeth are classed as ivory! It is complicated, when the bone is inside the head of the animal it is classed as bone but becomes ivory when it comes out of the animal’s head. The material called Vegetable Ivory is in reality the Corozo nut , often used in imitation of ivory, it looks a little ‘soapy’ in comparison. The description of Bone covers the use of the skeletons of most animals. Ham bones were always used to carve lace bobbins, but often called ivory. Whale bones sometimes are known as ‘ivory tusks’ when carved by sailors in a black drawn decoration called ‘Scrimshaw’. Prisoners of war work was often done working with bones from animals having been eaten for dinner. But some ivory was used from left overs from bigger Dieppe carvings brought by the French prisoners of the Napoleonic wars.

The current ruling of the monetising [buying or selling] ivory is legal if the article was made before 1947 with the exception of selling to the U.S.A. The ban on ivory sales is still being debated. It is thought that certain small worked items made pre 1947, will be exempt from the ban, but as yet, which items will be exempt is still not decided. We will keep you informed.