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What you need to know if you use ivory for knives, or buy, sell knives with ivory

Mark Knapp

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I thought this would be a perfect thread to ask this question. What would you recommend as an alternative to Ivory? Particular when it comes to making handles for swords? I refuse to use real Ivory.
This is a thread about the use of legal ivory, not about alternatives. Your question would be better elsewhere.
 
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Fellow members-I still see a number of knives offered for sale with various forms of ivory handles. The latest patchwork of federal and state laws are confusing so I am hoping that some of the more experienced members of the community can assist. To my reading, some sort of verification of provenance of the ivory is required when buying/selling items with ivory. What is considered sufficient in the eyes of the law for meeting this? In your experience, when knives are bought/sold which have ivory handles, are buyers, as a rule, provided with some evidence of provenance? In other words is it an expected part of the transaction and if not are person to person transfers still lawful for interstate and intrastate transaction? Is there any distinction made for person to person versus commercial sale (regular occurring). I am particularly interested in the current laws on ivory trade with regards to the states of Nevada and California and the links to legislation are not entirely clear. It is not my intention to stir up a “hornets nest” with the question. I just want to understand before making a decision concerning the legality of purchasing an ivory handled knife. Thank you in advance for your perspectives.
 
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This is a thread about the use of ivory and whale ivory, baleen and bone, what is legal and what is not. It is not a thread about weather or not we should use ivory, if you want to talk about that, start a thread somewhere else.

We will be adding to this thread whenever new information comes out about using ivory for knife making.

We will be talking about what is legal and what is not.

We will be posting information about the ivory trade so that you can talk knowledgeably about it.

We will try to keep abreast of the changing ivory laws, and keep you informed on what you need to do to preserve the right to use it, and sell what you make with it, as well as items made with it.

We will also be talking about how to use ivory to get the best results that you can. We will have questions and answers about the use of ivory.

I will also be having contests from time to time and giving away free ivory. Stay tuned to learn how you could win some.

I am not a lawyer, we can help you stay out of trouble, but if you get yourself into trouble by the improper use of ivory, I cannot help you.
I am disapproved that knives that made by whale ivory, baleen and bone. No buying, no killing. Protecting ainimals is protecting ourseves.
 
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While I agree that "killing an animal to get the Ivory" is morally wrong, I think it is the height of STUPIDITY to BAN the Use of parts of animals that died of their own accord, Thousands or even TENS of Thousands of Years ago.

I THINK PEOPLE stupid enough TO ban THE USE OF Mammoth Ivory or Interpret International treaties so as to ban the use of Ambergris (which is found washed up on Beaches and does not normally involve killing a Whale) in Perfume is even MORE STUPID (And I doubted that was even possible!)
 

Mark Knapp

Dealer / Materials Provider
Joined
Dec 20, 2009
Messages
4,326
Fellow members-I still see a number of knives offered for sale with various forms of ivory handles. The latest patchwork of federal and state laws are confusing so I am hoping that some of the more experienced members of the community can assist. To my reading, some sort of verification of provenance of the ivory is required when buying/selling items with ivory. What is considered sufficient in the eyes of the law for meeting this? In your experience, when knives are bought/sold which have ivory handles, are buyers, as a rule, provided with some evidence of provenance? In other words is it an expected part of the transaction and if not are person to person transfers still lawful for interstate and intrastate transaction? Is there any distinction made for person to person versus commercial sale (regular occurring). I am particularly interested in the current laws on ivory trade with regards to the states of Nevada and California and the links to legislation are not entirely clear. It is not my intention to stir up a “hornets nest” with the question. I just want to understand before making a decision concerning the legality of purchasing an ivory handled knife. Thank you in advance for your perspectives.

Provenance is as simple as the sales receipt that says "fossil walrus ivory" or whatever you have, but whatever you can provide is better. After that, it's the responsibility of the regulatory authority (USF&W, Troopers, etc.) to prove that it isn't what the receipt says it is. Whenever I sell raw ivory or a knife with ivory on it, I provide a certificate of authenticity with it that says what the material is. It should be a regular part of the transaction where ivory is concerned.

There is no distinction made between person to person and commercial sales. Everyone has to abide by the same rules.

California and Nevada have some of the strictest laws concerning ivory sales within the state. You cannot buy, sell, trade or barter any ivory withing the state. It is legal to own ivory and if you own ivory it's legal to bring it into the state.
 

Mark Knapp

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I am disapproved that knives that made by whale ivory, baleen and bone. No buying, no killing. Protecting ainimals is protecting ourseves.

This thread is not for debating the use of animal parts as I stated in my OP. It's for making the laws concerning animals available. I don't want it muddied up with arguments. Please bring your argument elsewhere.
 
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Provenance is as simple as the sales receipt that says "fossil walrus ivory" or whatever you have, but whatever you can provide is better. After that, it's the responsibility of the regulatory authority (USF&W, Troopers, etc.) to prove that it isn't what the receipt says it is. Whenever I sell raw ivory or a knife with ivory on it, I provide a certificate of authenticity with it that says what the material is. It should be a regular part of the transaction where ivory is concerned.

There is no distinction made between person to person and commercial sales. Everyone has to abide by the same rules.

California and Nevada have some of the strictest laws concerning ivory sales within the state. You cannot buy, sell, trade or barter any ivory withing the state. It is legal to own ivory and if you own ivory it's legal to bring it into the state.

Sir,
Thank you for providing me with information.

Regards,
Foxdoublegunner
 

Codger_64

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Regarding the reuse of old ivory scrap... and purchase/shipping... I am curious whether or not I could buy salvaged piano key veneer from eBay and then send it to a custom knife maker out of state, then on to another state for scrimshaw, and finally back to me. Depends on the individual state laws I suppose. Or have they become more consistent? I am in WA State by the way. A maker may be in Utah and a scrimshander in Maine or Massachusetts. Just hypothetically.
 

Mark Knapp

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Regarding the reuse of old ivory scrap... and purchase/shipping... I am curious whether or not I could buy salvaged piano key veneer from eBay and then send it to a custom knife maker out of state, then on to another state for scrimshaw, and finally back to me. Depends on the individual state laws I suppose. Or have they become more consistent? I am in WA State by the way. A maker may be in Utah and a scrimshander in Maine or Massachusetts. Just hypothetically.
I have bought salvaged piano key veneer on eBay years ago, as far as I know it has been banned on there for a few years now, haven't seen it there for a while. They have a very strict policy concerning ivory on eBay.

To answer your question, as far as I know, it is only against the law to "Import for the purpose of resale" ivory into even the strictest states. So, according to that, it would not be illegal to ship ivory to a knife maker or scrimshander in a state where the sale of ivory has been banned for the purpose of having it worked. It would be illegal for a knife maker or scrimshander in one of those states to buy it, work it and sell it to you. None of the four states you mentioned have at this time restricted the use of ivory.
 

Codger_64

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59,492
I have bought salvaged piano key veneer on eBay years ago, as far as I know it has been banned on there for a few years now, haven't seen it there for a while. They have a very strict policy concerning ivory on eBay.

To answer your question, as far as I know, it is only against the law to "Import for the purpose of resale" ivory into even the strictest states. So, according to that, it would not be illegal to ship ivory to a knife maker or scrimshander in a state where the sale of ivory has been banned for the purpose of having it worked. It would be illegal for a knife maker or scrimshander in one of those states to buy it, work it and sell it to you. None of the four states you mentioned have at this time restricted the use of ivory.
Thanks! It is still currently found on eBay but the sellers are careful not to use the "I" word.
 

sceva

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Sep 18, 2002
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645
I have a question; I see more states are including mammoth ivory in their Buy / Sell bans. Ostensibly this is to keep someone from labeling Elephant as Mammoth to circumvent the ban. I cannot believe it is that hard to tell the difference between Elephant and Mammoth ivory, even is the ends can't be seen to look at the shreger (sic) lines such as scales on a pocket knife. Am I mistaken in this, How about interior mammoth; can one tell visually that it's Mammoth and not elephant? It appears to me that the the coloration and look is still different.

Perhaps it's so they don't actually need to train their investigators on what is what; ban it all and they don't need to even try to differentiate.
 
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I have a question; I see more states are including mammoth ivory in their Buy / Sell bans. Ostensibly this is to keep someone from labeling Elephant as Mammoth to circumvent the ban. I cannot believe it is that hard to tell the difference between Elephant and Mammoth ivory, even is the ends can't be seen to look at the shreger (sic) lines such as scales on a pocket knife. Am I mistaken in this, How about interior mammoth; can one tell visually that it's Mammoth and not elephant? It appears to me that the the coloration and look is still different.

Perhaps it's so they don't actually need to train their investigators on what is what; ban it all and they don't need to even try to differentiate.
I don't think you can honestly tell some of the examples unless you're able to carbon date it.
 

Mark Knapp

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I have a question; I see more states are including mammoth ivory in their Buy / Sell bans. Ostensibly this is to keep someone from labeling Elephant as Mammoth to circumvent the ban. I cannot believe it is that hard to tell the difference between Elephant and Mammoth ivory, even is the ends can't be seen to look at the shreger (sic) lines such as scales on a pocket knife. Am I mistaken in this, How about interior mammoth; can one tell visually that it's Mammoth and not elephant? It appears to me that the the coloration and look is still different.

Perhaps it's so they don't actually need to train their investigators on what is what; ban it all and they don't need to even try to differentiate.
It's mostly an agenda. There are protectionist groups that would like to see the use of all ivory banned. It's easier and less expensive to just ban it than test it, or teach people to know the difference.
 

Mark Knapp

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I don't think you can honestly tell some of the examples unless you're able to carbon date it.
In most cases it's very easy to tell the difference, but many agencies would rather just ban it than go through the trouble of ascertaining what is what.
 
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In most cases it's very easy to tell the difference, but many agencies would rather just ban it than go through the trouble of ascertaining what is what.
I think it's a real shame to loose the material since the Mammoth/Mastodon is in good sustainable supply and so good looking.

Can you expand on what's so easy about telling it apart?
 

Mark Knapp

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Elephant ivory is white. So if you can't measure the Schreger lines, and the ivory doesn't have stained bark and it's not "ringed-out" (separating on the annul rings) it will almost always be a darker creamy color than elephant ivory. I would be very hard pressed to find any mammoth or mastodon ivory in my shop (and I have a lot of it) That's as white as elephant ivory. I would say it's almost impossible but nothing's impossible.
 

Mark Knapp

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I think it's a real shame to loose the material since the Mammoth/Mastodon is in good sustainable supply and so good looking.

Can you expand on what's so easy about telling it apart?
I forgot to quote you in your answer above.
 
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Elephant ivory is white. So if you can't measure the Schreger lines, and the ivory doesn't have stained bark and it's not "ringed-out" (separating on the annul rings) it will almost always be a darker creamy color than elephant ivory. I would be very hard pressed to find any mammoth or mastodon ivory in my shop (and I have a lot of it) That's as white as elephant ivory. I would say it's almost impossible but nothing's impossible.
If you look at the Northwoods folder releases in Mammoth you'll see some unexpectedly white covers.

They can't make a decision on a visual. There has to be some sort of repeatable non-destructive test. Maybe there will be some day. If anyone knows someone in a University with the right scientific credentials figuring that out would get them in the history books.

I like mammoth but I'll give up that like for the greater good and I also have no problems with the poachers getting shot in the face or eaten by lions. There's not enough of that going on right now though.
 
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