The government is looking at extending the ban on the sale of ivory to include items made before 1947.
Previously only more modern ivory items were banned, but the government is in consultation about the issue and the possibility of introducing a ban on goods containing ivory irrespective of their age.
Victorian pianos often had their keys made from ivory. However, under the suggested ban some items are exempt including musical instruments, so anyone buying a Victorian antique piano should be fine. Items regarded as having a high historical importance will also be exempt.
Items that have a small amount of ivory will not be covered by the ban. A Victorian mahogany table inlaid with some ivory, for example, could still be legally sold.
The ivory ban is designed to protect elephants, but Noelle McElhatton of the Antiques Trade Gazette feels that the ban on antique ivory items will not stop the decline of the elephant population. He said:
“We feel strongly that an outright ban would be an over-reaction and would be very detrimental to the honest and legitimate trade of pre-1947 ivory.”
In February 2017, the Duke of Cambridge said that he supported an outright ban. This led to historian David Starkey to say that this was “one of the largest threats to the preservation of Western decorative arts”.
Lancastrians buying items like late Victorian furniture should not find a lack of choice in Lancashire antique shops if the ivory ban is introduced, since most antique furniture contains little or no ivory.
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