THE British Antique Dealers’ Association believe campaigners are wrong to call for only independent registered experts to be allowed to date ivory objects. The move would drive trade underground they say.
Their criticism follows the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Elephants On The High Street report that described antiques markets as the major source of illegal (post-1947) ivory trading in the UK. And they have issued a statement defending the corner of the legitimate trade.
“Although we fully sympathise with the aims to prevent trade in modern ivory, BADA regards the proposal [for every object containing ivory to be vetted for age by an independent observer] as unworkable.
“If introduced, it would force trade underground and result in otherwise law-abiding citizens being turned into criminals simply for selling items they acquired legitimately. It is unfortunate that this recommendation was not properly discussed with the principal art market trade bodies before being published.”
Rather than blanket legislation, say BADA, a more realistic way forward would be an improved and properly funded system of spot-checking to determine whether or not ivory can be legally traded.
They offered their assistance in advising the relevant authorities about this.
Britain’s oldest trade association also took issue with the “unrepresentative” sample used by IFAW – “by visiting mainly small and less experienced London market stallholders they excluded Britain’s established and experienced antique dealers” – and said the report was wrong to claim that under UK law worked ivory must be sold with proof-of-age documents. “Most owners [of works of art incorporating ivory] have acquired them legitimately but do not possess documentary proof of their origin, yet surely they have the legitimate right to be able to sell them.”