Banning Antique Ivory

I have written the letter below because of a variety of rules and regulations emanating from both the Federal and NY State governments. Please understand, I abhor the illegal trade in ivory that exists around the world, most notably in China but very heavily in the Far East. The elephant is fast disappearing, something I find both depressing and distressing. I have been lucky enough to see elephants in the wild and there is nothing as majestic on this earth. They are extraordinary animals. However, banning the trade in antique ivory does not seem to be the way to resolve the problem as far as I can tell. The antiques trade has long advocated the creation of “passports”, essentially a data base that has both photos and numeric identification that will allow its safe, legal transport. I ask of all of you to kindly forward the attached letter to the addresses listed below. The Federal hearing is in four days so time is of the essence.   I will be making the trip to Washington to speak to the committee but we also need your help.

Please let the committee know your concerns:

Craig Hoover, Chief, Wildlife Trade and Conservation Branch

Division of Management Authority

International Affairs

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Via email:

Timothy J. Van Norman, Chief

Branch of Permits

Division of Management Authority

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Via email:

Mr. Cade London, Special Assistant

USFWS International Affairs,

Via email:



You can also help by contacting your Congressmen and Senators:




Many thanks,


Clinton Howell

President Clinton Howell Antiques

President Art and Antique Dealer League of America

Member of CINOA



To Whom It May Concern;

I write this letter to confirm my support for legislation that will ban the sale of illegally obtained ivory. However, I would like to point out that the directive issued by the President to ban the importation of ALL ivory is seriously flawed. The intended objective is to stop the slaughter of elephants, but the means for doing so denies the cultural importance of objects that have been created by man, our essential cultural heritage, for the last 5,000 years. By banning the import of all ivory, this antique ivory is consigned to the dustbin of history.

The range of objects made of ivory is vast. Prior to the 19th century, when ivory was relatively scarce, it was highly prized as a superior material for carving. Almost every culture and religion venerated works carved in the material and a visit to the most museums will readily demonstrate this fact. When the source for ivory expanded, so did its uses. A very short list of uses for ivory includes buttons, brooches, desk sets, canes, furniture (and inlay to furniture), oil pigment, handles (from weapons to teapots) finials, poker chips, pool balls, the list is astoundingly long. To render these items stigmatized and valueless does not help the plight of the elephant today.

We would ask you to suggest to the President and to his committee that there is a better way to stop the slaughter of elephants. There is also a better way to register legal antique ivory in order to stop the sale of poached ivory identified by its importers as “antique”. We recognize the difficulties, we recognize the need and we echo the desire, but please, let us help create a law that is workable and effective, not one that stigmatizes and condemns our cultural heritage.


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