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California Law Banning Sale of Ivory Affects Antiques Trade

California’s recent decision to strictly enforce a state law banning the sale of any ivory, including antique ivory, will have a dramatic impact on antiques dealers and auction galleries that do business in the state, according to an article that appeared in the April 2012 issue of Maine Antique Digest.  The California Department of Fish and Game has begun aggressive enforcement of California Penal Code Sections 653o and 653p, which prohibits the sale, or possession with the intention to sell, all ivory.


Maine Antique Digest reports that a dealer couple in their 60’s was approached by an agent from the Department of Fish and Game at an outdoor flea market in early February.  The agent seized eight objects marked for sale in their booth, cited the couple for committing a misdemeanor and issued them a court date of April 12th.   Subsequently, a California auction gallery was raided on February 18 by agents who confiscated several lots of ivory objects estimated at $150,000.


California’s law, like those in other states, reinforces the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.  These federal statutes protect whales, dolphins, elephants and many other endangered species from illegal poaching and the lucrative black-market trade in ivory, pelts and other animal parts.  However, certain general provisions were made for the sale and importation of antique ivory.  California’s law banning the sale of ALL IVORY appears to change all that.


Strict enforcement of the California law would seem to prohibit the sale in California of many antique objects including scrimshaw, netsuke, ivory-handled weapons, buttons, furniture with ivory inlay and even antique pianos with ivory veneered keys.  Antiques dealers, collectors, auctioneers and others who do business in California should be aware of the law and understand the penalties for violating it.

Read the entire story on California Penal Code Sections 653o and 653p at www.maineantiquedigest.com .

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