Discussion in 'Pottery, Glass, and Porcelain' started by StumptownJoe, Nov 14, 2019.
I found a walrus tusk in my grandfather's belongings - I have no idea what to do with it!
Is it carved?
In the United States there are laws regarding the sale of marine mammal parts. You might want to contact the nearest office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for advice.
No, it's just a single tusk - no carving or anything.
Fish & Wildlife is a great idea - thank you!
They will confiscate it.
Well, I’d like to do the right thing.
Keep it or pass it on to another relative if you are not comfortable with it.
Wait for others to give their opinion.
Fish and Game will either horde it, burn it, or someone in the ranks will "borrow" it.
If it was your grandfather's, the animal has been dead for a very long time.
Not sure but I think walrus tusk can be traded, at least within Canada ..not endangered species afaik ..
Could be wrong but I seem to remember a site selling it pretty recently?
It is not illegal to possess a walrus tusk (unless it was obtained illegally). There are just restrictions on whether or not it can be sold depending on when it was acquired.
Of course, these particular laws only apply if you are in the United States.
Do you know of an instance where this occurred? If so, what were the full circumstances?
Back in the 80's, F&W officers showed up at Californian Antique shows and confiscated anything made of tortoiseshell, took the stuff right out of the seller's booths.
This was a bad time to own any as you couldn't give it away in the bay area once the word got out. Unfortunately, I was running the west coast at the time and had almost a black garbage bag full of 18th c tortoiseshell objets d'art incl. Teacaddies, pique jewellery, snuff boxes, card cases, you name it - I had it.
Impossible to sell any and not wanting to cross the border back to Canada with any, I left it in San Francisco with a colleague ...many many years later he sent me a cheque for the whole lot ...either $80 or $18 ..can't remember which ...keep in mind that in those days, one 18thc teacaddy in good nick could bring upwards of $1000 back in Vancouver ...oh well, win some, lose some
A world wide ban on the sale of tortoiseshell went into force in 1975, following the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). By the 1980s, Fish and Wildlife was probably trying to make a point of enforcing the ban. It seems to have worked.
It is the same thing with elephant ivory now, although the more recent laws seem to have made better accommodations for historic objects (as long as there is documentation).
I'm in CA - I don't remember the specifics, however it was on the news and in the newspapers. There was a bar that sued Fish and Game.
When the law was first enacted here, Fish and Game went and confiscated much of the taxidermy that had been on display for many decades.
I had a customer who was Fish and Game and I asked her the specifics about the laws - as it's quite confusing. Basically I was curious about the taxidermy. If it is any animal indigenous to California we can't sell it, that's on top of the Federal laws. She even said that if something is reported to them, they have to go in and confiscate.
For now...do the right thing for you...and don't alert any government Dept !!!
They are worth a lot of money......but if you have no documents with it.....moving it is problematic depending on where you are...
funny to find this in the pottery section.....
In the mid 90's, 2 guys came into my Gallery looking to sell a tusk that someone had left in baggage at a small airport, from a flight that came from northern Quebec.
No one downtown would touch it.....so they ended up on my doorstep !
When they showed it to me....I immediately knew why !
Of course it had no papers....& it really wasn't theirs in the 1st place.....but...it was barely 3 feet long !!, and a third of that was the part of the tusk that's inside the the animal. That part is always cut off of an adult tusk, but this one came from a juvenile ....
I was just sad to see it.....but I also just couldn't let it go further than my door....and I gave it a good home for many years surrounded by the finest in 1st Nations art and culture.
One day...while moving it around , the part that was not the outside tusk just shattered into dozens of pieces in my hand. I felt terrible, but knew it was time for the rest of it to be honored with a new home.
I contacted a Mi'kmaq
artist friend of mine, and in a respectful ceremony , passed it on to him to look after.
The guy lives surrounded by more animal parts that you'd find in a zoo, & one day he incorporated part of the tusk into a lovely Dream Catcher, as he is known for making the best in the world.
He invited me over to see it....and it was lovely....and a tribute to the creature itself.
It was, though....smaller than I had remembered, and upon asking hm about it , he sat me down on the floor , burned some sweet grass, and unfurled a rolled up length of deer hide...... & gifted me with a wonderful surprise !!
The spirit of that Narwhal now lives on , respected & cared for !
The problem is, it is not worth a lot of money if it cannot legally be sold.
This is a legitimate concern with the laws intended to protect endangered species. There is no compensation for items that formerly had monetary value, but which suddenly become illegal to sell and thus worthless. I understand the principle that there must be no market of any kind, in order to eliminate the incentive to kill the endangered species. But it is a blunt instrument, and does not take into consideration the value of objects legitimately acquired before the bans.
One option that may be applicable in this case is to donate the tusk to a natural history or anthropology museum.
I bought some tusk recently (locally, from another restorer) to carve some missing tusks(!) on a few old Inuit pieces I had around.
People still buy and sell the older pieces, just not in a public retail setting.
I've seen and had several Inuit pieces , where ivory was replaced by bone to make the item saleable across borders..
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