It’s been a busy few weeks since the beginning of the year, with a lot of house calls, and a blitz on tidying my warehouse (admittedly with my team doing much of the work!).
As always, as a dealer I also have to keep up to date with the latest regulations, and lately the rules regarding the buying and selling of antique items from endangered species have been tightened even more. We do see these from time to time at our valuation days, and in our shop, and so need to be extremely careful not to step outside of the strict guidelines.
For centuries, exotic and rare items from creatures such as elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, whales and polar bears has been sought after by collectors. Much came to Europe in the days of the British Empire, or from colonial lands in Victorian Africa.
Nowadays, of course, most people realise the risk to endangered species from poachers who still source these items, and this has heralded the new, tighter rules. Even before the clampdown, items had to have been acquired before 1947, and must have been significantly reworked from its natural raw state into jewellery, adornment, art, utility, or musical instrument.
Now, further clarification is needed for many items, and they require licences (known as an Article 10 Certificate) to verify they comply with the law. For example, rhino horn that has been reworked before 1947, and even taxidermy rhino heads that pre-date 1947, will be eligible for a certificate. But unaltered rhino horn, including those mounted on plaques, will no longer be legal to sell, even if they were mounted before that date.
All these changes mean we have to be increasingly vigilant, and take great care over buying and selling any items from endangered species. For members of the public, it’s something of a minefield. If you do have items you are worried about selling, make sure you check with a reputable auction house or dealer first, as the one thing that’s not endangered are the large fines if you fall foul of the law!
I’m packing my bags and heading to Italy for a week to look at antiques there, so I’ll report back next month - and let you know if I found anything interesting. Something Roman, do you think??