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#2900319 10/15/19 07:43 AM
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Does anyone have any current information on the impact of the Ivory Act 2018 as yet?

Ivory Act explanatory notes

The Act is now law but apparently is not yet 'in force'. It provides an exemption for musical instruments earlier than 1975, but I would have though that the 'de minimis' exemption would also apply to most pianos as there's no way that key tops provide more than 10% of a piano 'by volume'.


The other part is section 10 registration: if you intend to sell a piano with ivory keys then it suggests that you would need to register the instrument and get an exemption certificate. Does that mean that all UK piano dealers are geared up and ready to register their pre-1975 stock? Would private citizens have to do the same before they sold or traded in an instrument with ivory keys?

There also does not appear to be anything in the Act about repairs, so does that mean that when the Act comes into force it will no longer be possible to repair damaged keys with CITES certified ivory - or do the keys themselves fall within the definition of 'musical instrument'? Or would restorers only be able to source ivory from pianos which are not traded as such? Or must they source it only from registered pianos both in terms of CITES and the Ivory Act?

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Sally Phillips was actually neck deep in the whole proceedings. Sally, can you help?


Rich Galassini
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Thanks for the response, Rich. I hope she may have some further knowledge which she is willing to share.

The more I think about it, the more it seems to cast a long shadow. If a piano w/ivory becomes an item which requires registration for the purposes of sale, trade or hire, as seems the case, then the market in pianos suddenly acquires a potential value distinction between those with and those without. Possibly very negative. Who wants to own something that could be rendered financially without value at any point the government chooses?

Today's very easily passed law may be superseded by a future law which makes all ivory unsaleable thus rendering such pianos completely without financial value regardless of what might have been paid for them.

There has already been a consultation process in regard to other forms of ivory than elephant ivory. That might well affect some new pianos. So the ground could continue to shift. Maybe it should.

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Originally Posted by etherline
Today's very easily passed law may be superseded by a future law which makes all ivory unsaleable thus rendering such pianos completely without financial value regardless of what might have been paid for them.
.


Steady on, that is imagination on the future not reality.

And in that imaginary future I think we would still, at worst, be talking about reducing value by the cost of replacing said ivory with plastic..

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I would have to read that carefully. I was involved in this problem in the US and what started out as a very restrictive regulation ended up being pretty workable. The big issue here is import/export, not sales. New York and New Jersey jumped into this a passed state laws that are restrictive but the de minimis portion allows for sale of pianos with less than 200 grams of ivory. No one can accurately measure that unless the ivory is removed but that has never come up here because the 200 grams was designed to eliminate the issue with pianos and other musical instruments.


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I don't know much about the law, but I do know that Tim Harvey from London is sometimes asked to go to the piano auctions and re-surface a keyboard if it's being exported. Sometimes it's just easier to spend the £500 or so that it costs to resurface a keyboard than to attempt to get all the certification together.

Bösendorfer and Hamburg Steinway, and other European makers used ivory right up until 1990, and by special request you could ask for ivory right up until very recently although the legality of how the ivory was actually acquired was a fudge. There was a scandal in 2014 or thereabouts when C.Bechstein produced an art case piano and used ivory on the key surfaces citing the reason that it was a historical reproduction. It was a rather clumsy decision on their part in my opinion. I know that some piano rebuilders in Europe could fit new ivory on to keys as recently as 2016 which personally I found reprehensible, but there, it happened. Being perfectly honest, the cut off dates for these things can be somewhat arbitrary. In terms of a ban in force from 2017, what difference does it make if the ivory was fitted in 1975 or 1995? Or for that matter 2015? It seems to make more sense to me to draw the line at 2017, but they must have their reasons.


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