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Doug Murray
03-23-2004, 12:27 PM
Anyone know what date the prohibition on the sale and importation of real ivory (as used on bagpipes) went into effect? What form of documentation is required to get bagpipes through customs? Is it possible to acquire documentation if no original bill of sale is available?

Angus MacDonald
03-23-2004, 03:03 PM
Hi Doug,

I know that the international ban on ivory was in 1989.

Is that what you are looking for?

Cheers,

Angus MacDonald & Maureen Lee
THE TARTAN THISTLE (r)
http://www.tartanthistle.com
bagpipes@tartanthistle.com
Toll Free Order Line 1-888-888-9002

NY Court Piper
03-23-2004, 03:14 PM
Hi Doug,

I believe Angus is correct with the 1989 date of international ivory embargo. I believe the US banned new ivory in 1977. I've read that if you want to import a set of pipes with ivory, you need a permit from the international organization overseeing ivory, CITES (www.CITES.org (http://www.CITES.org)) and need to submit some sort of documentation attesting to the age of the ivory. I'm actually interested in importing some ivory pipes myself so I was just looking this up a few minutes ago. Haven't received a response yet though. Good luck.

Billy G.

EquusRacer
03-23-2004, 03:16 PM
Good question, Doug, for I've seen a number of dates floating around here which haven't matched what I thought. :shrug:
I was always under the impression--at least with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife--that 1973 was the date of the CITES Convention hosted by the U.S. and that the CITES "act" was 1 July 1975.
It seemed, when I first applied for my CITES permit on my pipes that I had to establish that the ivory was "pre-convention" or pre-1975 (the ivory only--the pipes could be made post-1975 as long as the ivory was pre-convention).
Does anyone have better information? :wave:

Angus MacDonald
03-23-2004, 03:23 PM
Yes.....
It is in the back of my pea-brain somewhere that a U.S. wildlife date of July 1st, 1975 was when it all started around here. It went international in 89'.

Cheers,

Angus MacDonald & Maureen Lee
THE TARTAN THISTLE (r)
http://www.tartanthistle.com
bagpipes@tartanthistle.com
Toll Free Order Line 1-888-888-9002

NY Court Piper
05-07-2004, 03:02 PM
I'm currently looking to import an ivory set and called US Fish & Wildlife today. I first tried to decipher the CITES site but to little avail. Oddly enough, Fish & Wildlife got back to me within a few hours so I was pleasantly surprised. It was short lived.

The gentleman first asked me the age of the item, the type of ivory and if elephant ivory, whether it was Asian or African elephant ivory? I was told in order to be safely imported to the US, the ivory had to be a minimum of 100 years old AND accompanied by a CITES pre convention certificate.

The regulations are at best convoluted but I gleaned this much. It is easier to import African elephant ivory as opposed to Asian elephant ivory do to the Asian elephant being designated "endangered" as opposed to the African which is only considered "protected". In any event, I was told that even if the pipes were 100 years old, they would need some sort of annexed informational sheet that included some indication the pipes were in excess of 100 years of age and accompanied with the CITES paperwork.

Initially, I haven't a clue how one would be able to document a set of pipes to an exact date of manufacture without the original paperwork to the government's satisfaction.

Secondly, how does one differentiate between elephant ivories? For that matter, how does the government? I sort of understand the need for some level of governmental regulation but isn't thi getting a little ridiculous? The ivory itself could be up to 99 years old and you can't get it into the US? I think something's wrong with this picture.

Has anyone successfully acquired a CITES certification?

Thanks for any help,
Billy G.

Kevin F. Gilstrap
05-07-2004, 07:55 PM
Originally posted by NY Court Piper:


I was told that even if the pipes were 100 years old, they would need some sort of annexed informational sheet that included some indication the pipes were in excess of 100 years of age and accompanied with the CITES paperwork.

Initially, I haven't a clue how one would be able to document a set of pipes to an exact date of manufacture without the original paperwork to the government's satisfaction.


I have CITES certification. You'll need to download their questionnaire off their website. Then you'll need written testimony from an antique dealer or appraiser as to their best guess at the age of the pipes and the ivory. The pipes themselves do not really need to be 100 years old. The ivory needs to be 100 years old and it can not have had any "reworking". In other words, if someone skimmed a ferrule or mount, you can forget getting a permit for it. But if everything is in order and you can find an " expert" on dating ivory mounts on pipes, you're in!


Give yourself plenty of time to get all this done if you're planning on a trip. Also, they only give the CITES permits for a limited period of time. So make sure you're clear on that when you're submitting your application. In other words, I don't think they'll issue you a blanket certificate that will last for say, a year. They issued mine for a specific trip. After I received it, I had to meet with the customs person at O'Hare to show my permit and my pipes before boarding the plane. Then you have to do the same when returning. Good luck!

NY Court Piper
05-07-2004, 09:19 PM
Hi Kevin,

Wow, even more involved than I had thought. At the moment I haven't a clue about how to go about this or even if I should bother. I had initially thought about shipping the pipes since I had no imminent plans to travel. I'll have to see how the seller is situated in geting such an "expert" to bless the ivory's age. Many thanks for your assistance.

EquusRacer
05-10-2004, 07:21 AM
NY Court Piper: As Kevin suggested, download the information. However, this is the problem with which we're faced, occasionally, so many agencies: agents who don't know the rules. :shrug:

It sucks, but think about how many times we all encounter this. We see it with building inspectors, where you'll perhaps get three opposing views leaving you without a clue as to what to do. We see it with certain officers of the court, some interpreting correctly and some mis-interpreting laws--again, leaving us scratching our heads. And, of course, we see it with customs and with F & W--sometimes, with opposing views and/or rules.

In point of fact, the ivory does not need to be at least 100 years old. This particular agent is likely confusing import/duty on antiques (and definition of an antique) with pre-convention ivory. Proving that is your task, and I've seen various approaches. Sometimes, a letter from the maker will serve; sometimes, hallmarks on silver (assuming there is some); an original bill of sale, if they're vintage. The point, however, in part is that there is no guarantee on what will work--and we're often faced with the nebulous situation of the agent with whom we're dealing.

I'd suggest you call another office of F & W. Also, you may want to call some of the shops importing bagpipes and ask what they do. Yes, this is confusing; and the only advice I have (besides the obvious, that someone will offer: don't buy ivory) is to not accept one response.

Best wishes, Michael

Jay Close
05-10-2004, 10:52 AM
Just to prove EquusRacer's point, several months ago I had a long, very pleasant conversation with a Wildlife Inspector in Atlanta -- hub for my region. He was well familar with bagpipes having worked for a number of years in Buffalo, NY. Here is the core of what he assured me was the law:

If I could prove the pipes and ivory on them were 100 years or more old, they would be allowed in as antique ivory, no problem.

Even if the ivory was pre-ban (he told me 1977 if I recall) but younger than 100 years, they could not come into the US if the they were part of a commercial transaction, i.e. if I was buying them or if I was selling them.

I could bring bring in pre-ban non antique ivory only if it was a genuine inheritance and it was up to me to demonstrate this including the history of ownership of the instrument.

Was this guy wrong? Was it simply his strict interpretation of the law? I don't know, but I was enough put off to not pursue the deal I was contemplating. But I still dream about those pipes!

Sean A. McCartney
05-11-2004, 09:50 AM
Forget the hassle. Just go with full silver :D

Iain Sherwood
05-11-2004, 10:14 AM
Or better, go with Mastodon ivory; it's not endangered, it's EXTINCT.

Angus MacDonald
05-11-2004, 01:50 PM
Originally posted by Sean A. McCartney:
Forget the hassle. Just go with full silver :D Yeah Sean,
Now your talking! :thumb:

Cheers,

Angus MacDonald & Maureen Lee
THE TARTAN THISTLE (R)
http://www.tartanthistle.com
bagpipes@tartanthistle.com
Toll Free Order Line 1-888-888-9002

NY Court Piper
05-11-2004, 02:41 PM
Thanks Fellas,

I will continue to research the issue, if only to educate myself about it. I initially had no idea of the difficulties and want to err on the side caution.
All the best

Rick Damon
02-14-2007, 08:55 AM
Any more information about this? The last note in this thread was May 11, 2004. I have a set on order (nearly complete) from the U.K. with ivory mounts. The maker has an export license for some ivory he obtained prior to the ban there (1991), but after the ban here (1977 or 1978 I believe). From what y'all have said, I'm in for a heap of trouble.

Does anyone have any good news? :shrug:

EquusRacer
02-14-2007, 09:30 AM
Well, Rick, the good news would be if they're in your hands.

First, I would think that the maker must ensure that you receive them, intact and in satisfactory condition, regardless of what he may have to endure.

Second, they may simply arrive with no issues. I've had more than one in my band receive pipes or chanters, with ivory, and no hassle.

Good luck!

JRM
02-14-2007, 09:32 AM
It has to meet the requirements of both the originating and the destination countries. In this case the US. The UK requirements have been met so it will be allowed out of the UK, but the US requirements have not been met from what you are saying. Best of luck.

Iain Sherwood
02-14-2007, 10:39 AM
Just have the maker describe them as 'bagpipes' with no other description on the invoice and customs declaration. Make no mention of ivory anywhere.

Jeff Cullen
02-14-2007, 12:16 PM
Iain's method is what I've found to be what works in the real world. I've acquired and sold over 30 sets of pipes over the last 5 years, most with ivory, almost all of it over 80 years old, but I've never used a CITES cert. I've always just gambled, specifying shipment without the word "Ivory" on the customs forms, and indiciating that they were "Scottish Bagpipes". Keep in mind that it IS a gamble. I just received these MacDougalls yesterday from Scotland:
http://www.crossroadssoftware.com/download/all1.jpg
http://www.crossroadssoftware.com/download/caps.jpg
http://www.crossroadssoftware.com/download/drones.jpg

squid piper
02-14-2007, 12:22 PM
Iain's, advice sounds like the best to me. I just recently purchased a set of late 1800 full ivory Glens. What a nightmare! It only took 1 day for the pipes to go from NZ to US. Then began the wait. The original CITES cert was in the box, apparently no one could open the box to retrieve the original (even though there was a copy enclosed on the outside of the box) DHL could only hold onto the parcel for 13 days and then it would go into Govt. storage facility.
The parcel could not be sent back to the originator and it could not be sent to me in the mid-west.
Once in the Govt. storage, the extortion money, I mean space rental bill really begins to add up.
If the parcel is not claimed (to do this rental fees must be paid, to the tune of $316.23 per month) The parcel will be auctioned or destroyed.
By the way even if the parcel is in the facility for 1 minute the fee is for 1 month.

Iain Sherwood
02-14-2007, 01:09 PM
Three months ago I bought a set of full ivory mounted pipes from a vendor in Canada. Parcel was marked 'Scottish bagpipes' and had no trouble.

I have shipped mammoth ivory to the UK as 'bagpipe mount material' with equal success via UPS. Don't use FedEx as they farm out deliveries overseas to local hauliers.

So, squid, how did you resolve the problem with the US Extortion Service?

classicbagpipes
02-14-2007, 01:12 PM
When I dealt with shipping pipes, I too would only mention Scottish bagpipes. NO mention of ivory anywhere. That is where you get yourself into trouble.

squid piper
02-14-2007, 02:03 PM
Iain, Finally, (After having enough of ME daily on the phone, I'm sure)a DHL representative was able to coordinate with Game Fish and Wildlife supervisors and open the package. GFW only had the parcel for a few days and not long enough to go to Govt. storage.
But, It cost me $85.00 and a mountain of more paperwork phone calls faxes and emails for that to be done. And get this; They require you to give them your credit card number and expire date before any of this stuff happens and they cannot give you a firm price on anything!! It's basically a blank check.

Glenurquhart
02-14-2007, 03:15 PM
Just have the maker describe them as 'bagpipes' with no other description on the invoice and customs declaration. Make no mention of ivory anywhere.
... and you are not necessarily dishonest in doing that as you are not supposed to be able to tell the difference, or to be aware about the possbility that your set is indeed fitted with real ivory. Most people can't, and they mistake substitutes for real ivory and vice versa. So just THINK that you are sending plastic :D

TheHaggisMaster
02-15-2007, 05:40 AM
I've had a CITES permit for several years and I haven't had any problems obtaining or renewing it. The people at CITES in Canada and the US are very helpful. I would always suggest getting proper permits for this. While the government agencies know all about this and the cutoms agencys do as well, I found the actual customs agent doesn't even know what ivory is. When I proudly showed my CITES permit to the customs agent at the airport on my return to Canada I was asked "what's this for"? Even after I explained he still has a boiled owl look on his face and just waved me through. Get the permit for saftey's sake but don't worry too much.

piobair
02-16-2007, 02:57 PM
Originally posted by TheHaggisMaster:
I've had a CITES permit for several years and I haven't had any problems obtaining or renewing it. The people at CITES in Canada and the US are very helpful. I would always suggest getting proper permits for this. While the government agencies know all about this and the cutoms agencys do as well, I found the actual customs agent doesn't even know what ivory is. When I proudly showed my CITES permit to the customs agent at the airport on my return to Canada I was asked "what's this for"? Even after I explained he still has a boiled owl look on his face and just waved me through. Get the permit for saftey's sake but don't worry too much. I went through considerable trouble getting mine probably 10 years ago. I had them inspected at the Port in Vancouver BC before going in. The agent there was well aware of it all having seen zillions (ok, several) come through already. When I came back out, which is where I was told I'd have the hassle, the guy didn't even want to look at them. I said, Hey, I went to alot of trouble getting this, the least you could do is LOOK at it. HA. :lol:

piobair
02-16-2007, 03:04 PM
I'd like to add that my pipes are 1915 Henderson's and I purchased them in 1976, so I figured I just got in under the gun. I don't know if I would purchase a set with ivory now, although a friend not that long ago and had no problem. Again, if you don't draw attention to it. Her's were 1912 Hendersons, so it wasn't like we were going out and killing elephants or whales.