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#2013716 - 01/12/13 11:23 PM Ivory expert
pianocat88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 99
Loc: Huntington Beach, CA
HI All- A few years ago at the first PTG Westpac conference in San Francisco, I met a technician named Hans who I think was from B.C. We talked about how he has had to verify the age on ivory so instruments don't need to be dismantled or confiscated when they are transported between countries when the paperwork has been forgotten.
Do any of you know him? If so, please let me know how to contact him. I have a situation where I must remove the ivories from a 1920's grand piano because it was shipped from Beirut without the proper paperwork. The Fish and Wildlife inspector is sympathetic but he takes his job very seriously. If I can prove to him that the ivories are without question the same age as the piano, there may be a chance he will approve the delivery without the removal of the keytops.
Lisa Weller, RPT
Huntington Beach, CA

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#2013717 - 01/12/13 11:28 PM Re: Ivory expert [Re: pianocat88]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3489
I unfortunately don't have an answer to your question, but I do have a warning: I personally know of people who have had really bad interactions with customs when importing/exporting pianos with ivory. You will not always get a sympathetic inspector, and if you are unlucky enough, they can and will go after you. Always make sure you have the proper paperwork, and make sure it is filled out correctly.

#2013746 - 01/13/13 12:54 AM Re: Ivory expert [Re: pianocat88]
Nash. Piano Rescue Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 389
Loc: East Nashville,TN Scottsville...
The information you are looking for is part of the CITES treaty. I think if you google CITES Treaty you will get the entire document. It has become more of an issue since Gibson Guitars was in the exotic wood trouble last year. They are really cracking down on Vintage guitars and pianos. The last two years have been very difficult so we stopped shipping. Especially to Western States with Agricultural inspection and port of entries.

I used to have the entire thing on my website until people got scared to buy pianos based on the wood they were constructed from. It is not just Ivory but also Broad-leaf Mahogany, Some Rosewood species. You have to be able to document what animal species ( scientific name) the Ivory came from and it has to be pre 1947 and you have to be able to prove that on paper.

The example listed on the US Customs watch list was a hunk of 10 thousand year old Mammoth Ivory that was fashioned into a nut for a guitar in 2008. US customs views this as Manufacturing a banned material and is illegal so now everything has to be documented. I am not sure how they are still cutting tusks pre-ban for new ivory and documenting that, perhaps contact Walker in KY and see what they do. We have also had our shop here in Nashville gone through by inspectors and they cataloged all our antique wood, veneer and Ivory.

Cornell University has been doing some research on this and we have personally been involved in helping some people get their piano back after confiscation in New Mexico of all places.

Also just because you have your paperwork in order is no guarantee that you can still ship the instrument. We just had something get denied shipping from TN to AZ to a museum there that we took a chance on.

J Christie
Nashville Piano Rescue
since 1918
Lascassas TN
J. Christie
Nashville Piano Rescue
East Nashville
Bowling Green, KY
Scottsville KY.
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Putting inspiration in the hands of area musicians
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#2013829 - 01/13/13 09:10 AM Re: Ivory expert [Re: pianocat88]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2539
Loc: Maine
I'm afraid that there has been a flame that has burned through the atmosphere of Earth that has consumed common sense. Political systems are regulating absurdities to beyond absurdity.

I'd take the ivory key tops off and replace them with plastic or steer bone. Then I'd give the tops to the Ag. inspector and suggest (politely of course) that he go find the animal that they came from, and glue them back in place.

My sense is that you are probably much nicer, more politically astute, and ecologically sensitive than I am, so take my suggestion for what it's worth. wink
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service

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#2013864 - 01/13/13 10:43 AM Re: Ivory expert [Re: pianocat88]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 24816
Loc: Oakland
Semipro Tech

#2014032 - 01/13/13 06:21 PM Re: Ivory expert [Re: pianocat88]
Aussie tuner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 77
Loc: South Australia
I sent some hammers to ABEL Germany to be recovered. The set fitted in to a small box but on arrival in Germany the Customs there would not release the box till I sent a note to ABEL which he could present to the customs saying "Hammers without piano AUS$20,00" I think the word "piano" must have rung bells in the customs department ;-)

#2014102 - 01/13/13 08:58 PM Re: Ivory expert [Re: pianocat88]
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3715
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Lisa the person you are inquiring about is not an ivory expert but I know who you mean. I will PM you his contact info as you are requesting.
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

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#2014329 - 01/14/13 10:24 AM Re: Ivory expert [Re: pianocat88]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2481
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
The only way to prove the age of the ivory is to have someone qualified to inspect a sample of it with a spectroscopy machine. These are often used by larger museums for this purpose. They find and isolatethe specific organic materials in the ivory which show age depradation and match them to known samples of proven age. There are several museums who perform the service in Europe, which typically involves sending them a sample. My understanding is that all but certain specific types of really recent/modern spectroscopy machines are not very portable. The process of analysis takes about half an hour for a competant tech to complete. Best bet is to call the largest museums in major nearby cities and enquire if they can help you.
(added) It would also be highly advisable to find out from the authorities involved what protocol is followed to ensure the integrity of the testing. You obviously don't want to go through the trouble and expense of having a sample tested and then have to do it over because someone suggests that the sample was switched out in the process.

Edited by Emmery (01/14/13 10:40 AM)
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

#2014332 - 01/14/13 10:27 AM Re: Ivory expert [Re: pianocat88]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014

Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Call Abby at NCIS.
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

#2014364 - 01/14/13 11:21 AM Re: Ivory expert [Re: pianocat88]
Olek Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 9230
Loc: France
About ivories, we have in France piano experts techs that are recognized by the courts. I believe those ones can put their name on a certificate, looking at the way the ivories are glued for instance, their thickness, may suffice to assess they are here before the fatal year.

Similar condition possibly exist in Germany (about courts agreement)

Analysis by a museum is a good idea, probably not cheap.
Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!

#2014397 - 01/14/13 12:11 PM Re: Ivory expert [Re: Minnesota Marty]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2539
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Call Abby at NCIS.
Yea, she can do it. She can figure out anything!
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service


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