Fact or Fiction: Illegal Ivory?

By: Carly Hill - Staff Writer • Jul 03, 2012 • 0 Comments

Fiction: It is illegal to buy anything made of ivory.

Fact:  As of 1989, It is illegal to import and export elephant ivory in and out of the country.  However, African elephant ivory is 100% legal to be bought, sold, and shipped anywhere within the U.S.  This can be done without any permits or registration requirements. 

The ivory that was already in the U.S. before the 1989 ban is considered “Pre Ban Ivory.”  In 1989, there was estimated to be 3 million tons of ivory in the US.  Putting it into perspective, that’s 6 BILLION pounds or 96 billion ounces.  A typical ivory carving contains about 2 ounces of ivory.   Based on the 2010 census, the U.S. currently houses enough ivory for every man, woman, and child to own 155 pieces of ivory jewelry.  So, although ivory is a rarity, there is available ivory that is up for grabs in the U.S. that can be purchased in a completely legal way.

So, now that you can separate the fact from the fiction, you can sleep soundly after you purchase your ivory carvings from Latique’s inventory – knowing that you are not a lawbreaker.

Bottom line: Ivory is not illegal to buy and own.

Check out this incredible sailor-carved Ivory “clenched fist” cane handle top circa 1840, available right here from Kahn Fine Antiques and Works of Art.

Enjoy your holiday and happy Latiquing!