A Chinese carved ivory sphere dating from the 19th century. The Great North Museum: Hancock. Twam

Should antique objects remain exempt from the ivory trading ban?

Rebecca Atkinson, 27.02.2017
Vote in the poll and have your say
The UK government is considering its manifesto pledge to ban the sale or movement of all carved ivory objects regardless of their age – a move that some museums, historians and antique dealers believe would harm Britain’s cultural heritage.

Currently, ivory objects made after 1947 are illegal but a wider ban would prevent older artefacts from being sold or moved by museums and others. Supporters of the ban, including wildlife charity Tusk, argue that it would help to stop the poaching, trafficking and buying of ivory.

Pauline Latham, the Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire, said: “It is clear that the sale of antique ivory in the UK provides a false veneer of legality for black markets across the world, because most people cannot tell the difference.”

But museums, including the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, have called for antique ivory works of art to be exempt from the ban. A total ban could affect museums’ ability to acquire items relevant to their collection, as well as loans and touring exhibitions.

Should antique objects remain exempt from the ivory trading ban? Vote in the poll and have your say in the comment box below.


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27.02.2017, 22:17
It should be possible to frame any legislation so that it differentiates between trade in ivory goods and cultural exchanges between museums or donations to museums. However, museums participating in the market for ivory goods are making such goods more valuable thereby encouraging more sellers into market, some of whom will indirectly have blood on their hands.