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#2880828 08/18/19 06:17 AM
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Those of you who have key tops made from woolly mammoth ivory may be interested to read:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/17/frog-tortoises-cites-wildlife-summit

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The tips of violin bows are traditionally reinforced with a sliver of ivory. Since 1975, woolly mammoth ivory has been the preferred substitute for elephant ivory. Restricting mammoth ivory would be a big headache for the string world.

The wood that expensive bows are made from is endangered. Bow makers sometimes use other exotic natural materials. So, carbon fibre violin bows with no ivory, mother of pearl, lizard leather, and ebony will eventually be the norm for new ones.

As for pianos, I didn't know that mammoth ivory has been used for keytops. I would imagine that all ivory keys will eventually have to be replaced with plastic if an instrument is to be sold or transported across international or US state lines. Antique and vintage violin bows are another matter because it is not really viable to replace tips with plastic or metal.

Everybody wants to protect elephants, of course. But spending limited time and money policing musicians instead of going after poachers is not the answer.


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Where is the supply of ivory from woolly mammoths coming from? Are the remains of these extinct animals being found, dug up and are the tusks stockpiled for their ivory? Seems somewhat unlikely to me, but what do I know? That's why I ask.

Regards,


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[quote=WhoDwaldi]
As for pianos, I didn't know that mammoth ivory has been used for keytops. I would imagine that all ivory keys will eventually have to be replaced with plastic if an instrument is to be sold or transported across international or US state lines.


We certainly don't want elephants killed for their tusk. That is disgusting. But just a thought: Why is it required to replace the keys on a piano if it is sold or transported across state or international lines? How does that help the already dead elephant? And what is done with the replaced ivory? Does it end up in a museum? The collection of some foreign despot? How does one legally dispose of discarded ivory? frown


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Originally Posted by BruceD
Where is the supply of ivory from woolly mammoths coming from? Are the remains of these extinct animals being found, dug up and are the tusks stockpiled for their ivory? Seems somewhat unlikely to me, but what do I know? That's why I ask.

Regards,


As far as I know, Siberia is the biggest source.

New gold rush: ivory hunters dig for woolly mammoths in Siberia

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Over the years it's been discussed several times in this forum that Pleyel and Steingraeber are among the manufacturers that have offered mammoth and/or mastodon ivory as keytops (I'm often the one who mentions it because I think it's kinda cool). Anyway the sheer tonnage of available mammoth tusks is amazing to me whenever I read about it. I recently read about one guy in Siberia who controls several hundred tons.

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Originally Posted by TomLC


We certainly don't want elephants killed for their tusk. That is disgusting. But just a thought: Why is it required to replace the keys on a piano if it is sold or transported across state or international lines? How does that help the already dead elephant? And what is done with the replaced ivory? Does it end up in a museum? The collection of some foreign despot? How does one legally dispose of discarded ivory? frown


My understanding is that you have to prove with paperwork that something is legal (pre-1975 ivory), and that it hasn't been repaired with illegal ivory. So, to prevent headaches, the best course will probably end up being getting rid of all ivory. Plastic and mammoth are distinguishable from elephant ivory by experts, but the officials at entry points often can't tell and delay, question, or confiscate items pending lengthy review (there are horror stories about orchestras travelling with bows).

For pianos, its more of a burden to restorers, I suppose, who will have their businesses scrutinized for illegal ivory.

There is concern about criminals claiming that their poached elephant ivory is mammoth ivory, hence the rising zeal for banning everything. My understanding is that a lot of 18th century ivory, ironically, came from long dead elephants (elephant graveyards), since they didn't have high-power rifles, then. Mammoth ivory is basically fossils.


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Originally Posted by Sir Lurksalot
Over the years it's been discussed several times in this forum that Pleyel and Steingraeber are among the manufacturers that have offered mammoth and/or mastodon ivory as keytops (I'm often the one who mentions it because I think it's kinda cool). Anyway the sheer tonnage of available mammoth tusks is amazing to me whenever I read about it. I recently read about one guy in Siberia who controls several hundred tons.

It is something I do not care for.But then I do not want to wear or play anything made of a dead animal(if I can help it )It does not worry me if the piano is older and was originally set with ivory.(before we became more aware of the huge numbers of elephants who were killed )There is now excellent substitutes for ivory which are used in many performance grade instruments.
Why would I need dead animal parts on any piano now in this age -----to remind myself of how much more supreme I am as a human being ????
I think Steingraeber (sure great pianos )should be more sensitive to the not so distant past !
As for these mountains of mammoth ivory I think they are coming from elephants.
In the book The Heart of Darkness (Conrad)there is this image of this river steamer mindlessly firing this gun into the virgin bush.A picture of evil. So cool ! Please Think Again !
I once had an older Broadwood piano as a teaching piano and it had ivory keys I did not mind but if
the keys came off, I would have insisted on ivorite or some other synthetic material .

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I'm in the Lady Bird camp. Its terrible what an elephant or other animal goes through when poachers get a hold of them. The following is from the web where I googled this information:

A tusk can be removed without killing the elephant.
But poachers use darts, poison and high-powered automatic rifles with night scopes to take elephants down and, while they are dying, the tusks are gouged out of from the living elephant's skull. The elephants die an agonizing, slow death from hemorrhage.

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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
[quote=Sir Lurksalot]But then I do not want to wear or play anything made of a dead animal(if I can help it )



Do you wear anything made of leather? I suspect there are dead animal parts in the action of your piano. I completely agree that elephants should not be killed for their ivory but we are not all "vegetarian greenies".


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Originally Posted by Lady Bird

I think Steingraeber (sure great pianos) should be more sensitive to the not so distant past !
As for these mountains of mammoth ivory I think they are coming from elephants.


I don't understand the objection to using the tusks of animals that died a natural death tens of thousands of years ago. But there's a lot I don't understand.
Regarding the Siberian stockpiles, they are NOT elephant ivory. Scott E's link documents this pretty well, as does this article, which states that "A 2015 study from Canada’s University of Calgary says that the export of 84 tonnes of Russian mammoth tusks to China and Hong Kong between 2010 and 2012 lowered the number of elephants poached from 85,000 to 34,000 per year."

Russian Ivory Hunt...

But it's a complex topic. Some argue that the availability of mammoth ivory is increasing overall demand, and it's true that industry-scale mammoth mining isn't very friendly to the Siberian environment.

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The biggest consumer and demander of ivory (and therefore a strong motivator in the illegal trade) happens to be for religious use in the making and selling of little idols and figurines. Do your research in the Philippines and you'll find out who's behind this.

Pwg


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Originally Posted by Sir Lurksalot
Originally Posted by Lady Bird

I think Steingraeber (sure great pianos) should be more sensitive to the not so distant past !
As for these mountains of mammoth ivory I think they are coming from elephants.


I don't understand the objection to using the tusks of animals that died a natural death tens of thousands of years ago. But there's a lot I don't understand.
Regarding the Siberian stockpiles, they are NOT elephant ivory. Scott E's link documents this pretty well, as does this article, which states that "A 2015 study from Canada’s University of Calgary says that the export of 84 tonnes of Russian mammoth tusks to China and Hong Kong between 2010 and 2012 lowered the number of elephants poached from 85,000 to 34,000 per year."

Russian Ivory Hunt...

But it's a complex topic. Some argue that the availability of mammoth ivory is increasing overall demand, and it's true that industry-scale mammoth mining isn't very friendly to the Siberian environment.

Originally Posted by P W Grey
The biggest consumer and demander of ivory (and therefore a strong motivator in the illegal trade) happens to be for religious use in the making and selling of little idols and figurines. Do your research in the Philippines and you'll find out who's behind this.

Pwg

I am sure no one checks every single keytop.But please go ahead even from an extinct Mammoth
it still sends the wrong message about using parts of dead animals.Yes you can try as you will.,
It is still dead animal parts ! If we discuss Idolatry it could an enormous subject.Bigger than the
Mammoth itself.

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I have said what I had to say and I do NOT want to say anything more.
To me it is sick and upsetting !

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PW Grey
I see what you said about the Philippines is true.
That is really sad and I think would upset many
members of that religion.

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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
But please go ahead even from an extinct Mammoth it still sends the wrong message about using parts of dead animals.

Dead animal parts? Humans didn't kill them - nature killed them. Seashells are made from dead animal parts. Some rocks are made from dead animal parts. Dead animal parts are ubiquitous and all around us. I completely understand not using ivory from elephants which are poached and left to bleed to death with their tusks gouged out. But avoiding using the bits from an extinct animal that humans had no part in making extinct, is going a bit far.


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Mammoths are extinct as of thousands of years ago. I'm pretty sure if you have a shovel and you're in an area with permafrost (Siberia, for example) it's just a question of digging.

CITES, as the article says, wants to ban mammoth ivory because there are too many nefarious dealers of objects who say "mammoth ivory" when in fact it's not. And the problem, as I understand a ban would solve, is customs inspectors usually can't tell the difference one way or the other just by looking.

So, for moving purposes, I have a letter from Steingraeber's key manufacturer stating the origin of the key tops as mammoth. Actually I didn't even know the keys were mammoth ivory until after I had purchased the piano.

One of the things you find when you call CITES in America is they often themselves (the enforcers) don't know that mammoth ivory is a thing. So just the word "ivory" causes anxiety. They do know that they're tasked with enforcing the law, so if they have to impound something and then figure out the law, that's what they'll do! I've found customs brokers who know this can all be a pain, so they just won't deal with anything related to ivory.

Guitar makers, meanwhile, are effected by a CITES ban on boubinga (more commonly known as rosewood). Wouldn't you know it, Steingraeber also uses boubings in their dampers! But the CITE ban on that is from 2017.

I'm just passing this stuff out as information to know and tell. My opinion is there's a consistency issue when one says they don't want animal parts on a piano. What about the little leather hitches that are in pianos? What about assorted components that in one way or another come from animal parts (are there other pieces in pianos made from animal parts?) What about everyday objects we all come across?

Some (in science) say they're prepared to clone mammoths from DNA and such. That'll make things interesting ...

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I wonder what environmentalists would say. Which material leaves a bigger carbon footprint? Recycled mammoth parts or (petroleum-based) plastics and similar synthetic materials?

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I am getting a Toothache reading all of these...



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Originally Posted by Sir Lurksalot
I wonder what environmentalists would say. Which material leaves a bigger carbon footprint? Recycled mammoth parts or (petroleum-based) plastics and similar synthetic materials?

I guess this must be a rhetorical question since petroleum has a carbon footprint from burning and synthetic materials have a carbon footprint from their manufacturing. But I can't think of any carbon produced by using pieces of dead animals, except perhaps from the manufacture of the glue used in gluing the pieces of dead animals on the keys.


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