Rules regarding sale of items with ivory trim in the UK?
May 15, 2011 10:36 PM   Subscribe

What restrictions (if any) are there in the UK on selling antiques that contain ivory trim? I have a couple of old silver teapots that I inherited from my grandmother that I would like to sell. Both have small amounts of off-white trim that I presume is ivory. Are there any restrictions on my selling the teapots? Will I be challenged if I take them to a silver dealer? The teapots are quite obviously old, but I don't have any paperwork for them. I have read the guidance for antique dealers linked on this page of the DEFRA website but I can't figure out what it means for me. (One sub-question: if the teapots were made before 1947 does that satisfy the legal requirements even though I, the current owner, was born after 1947?)
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IANYAD. My reading of the documentation you link to is that in the absence of existing paperwork you'll need an Article 10 certificate - £25. And yeah, it's the item, not your age.
posted by unliteral at 11:13 PM on May 15, 2011

The relevant pieces of the document are:

"You do not need a certificate under Article 10 of the EC Regulations to sell Annex A
worked specimens acquired before 1947. Specimens are defined as “worked” for CITES
purposes if the specimen was made before 1 June 1947, and no further working has been
carried out on it since that date.


Antique worked specimens of ivory acquired in their finished worked state before 1 June
1947 are covered by the antiques derogation (Article 62(3) of EC Regulation 865/2006)
and may be used commercially without a certificate."

To me, that seems to state that so long as a piece of ivory has been carved and put into its final use before mid-1947, then you're fine to sell within the EU. I think you're falling over the meaning of "acquire", which I take refers to the acquisition of the ivory, not when you bought or were given the teapot. Any silver dealer will be able to identify hallmarks to prove its age, and probably also notice if the ivory is not original. Of course, if you actually take your teapots to a silver dealer, I'm sure they've encountered ivory often enough to know the rules through and through.
posted by Jehan at 12:31 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Based purely on my obsessive watching of both Bargain Hunt and the Antiques Roadshow, you're fine so long as the piece was made prior to 1947. If you're uncertain, ring up a silver dealer and ask.
posted by prentiz at 12:50 AM on May 16, 2011

I'd assume that if the trim is integral to the piece, the silver would carry sufficient weight for dating purposes. The hallmark, if it has one, should give you the year -- the year letter depends upon the assay office, so match that first, then look for the shape of the year mark, then the letter.
posted by holgate at 8:47 AM on May 16, 2011

I am not your antique dealer. I am one, still, in fits and spurts, but I haven't handled such things for years, and did so in the US and Canada when I did. And when I did fill out customs declarations and such, I took care to research and write them well.

You haven't tested it yet to see if it's ivory? Often the insulators are bone, especially if the teapots are silver plate rather than sterling. Or it's maybe even an early plastic. You don't know, you inherited them. You're off the hook. That's your story, and you're sticking to it. You're not a dealer who has to represent them in any particular way to the public, and you're not transporting them over a border. They're not a huge difference in the value because of the little insulating rings, if that's all that's ivory-coloured, whatever they are - usually they're just there to keep heat from travelling through the metal, and for a neater-looking join. So, they are lovely antique teapots, primarily a silver-coloured metal with decorative accents as far you know, and that's all any receipt has to say, really. Take them to a reputable dealer and don't worry. What Jehan said.

(But, one dealer that I knew about eighteen years ago skirted such issues by, say, NOT selling anything on the CITES list, ever. They were in the case, but not for sale. She'd just give away that ivory bangle, or tortoiseshell hair comb, or gorilla coat - but sell the paper bag that it came in or the number of buttons the coat was attached to for an amount equal to the value. If you're really worried that there's an issue, that's an option that someone I knew exercised successfully for years, though of course, I am not offering that advice.)
posted by peagood at 1:37 PM on May 16, 2011

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