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History, Tradition, Heritage As related to the subjects of piping, drumming and pipe bands.

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Old 03-23-2004, 12:27 PM   #1
Doug Murray
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Default Ivory embargo date

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?
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Old 03-23-2004, 03:03 PM   #2
Angus MacDonald
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Default Re: Ivory embargo date

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)
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Old 03-23-2004, 03:14 PM   #3
NY Court Piper
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Default Re: Ivory embargo date

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) 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.
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Old 03-23-2004, 03:16 PM   #4
EquusRacer
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Default Re: Ivory embargo date

Good question, Doug, for I've seen a number of dates floating around here which haven't matched what I thought.
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?
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Old 03-23-2004, 03:23 PM   #5
Angus MacDonald
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Default Re: Ivory embargo date

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)
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Old 05-07-2004, 03:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: Ivory embargo date

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.
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Old 05-07-2004, 07:55 PM   #7
Kevin F. Gilstrap
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Default Re: Ivory embargo date

Quote:
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!
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Old 05-07-2004, 09:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: Ivory embargo date

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.
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Old 05-10-2004, 07:21 AM   #9
EquusRacer
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Default Re: Ivory embargo date

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.

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
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Old 05-10-2004, 10:52 AM   #10
Jay Close
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Default Re: Ivory embargo date

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!
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