The elephant in the sales room: ivory and the British antiques trade

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In March 2015, it was reported that His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cambridge would “like to see all the ivory owned by Buckingham Palace destroyed.” In May 2015, the Conservative Party’s manifesto stated that if elected the party would “press for a total ban on ivory sales,” and policy decisions made as part of President Obama’s National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking saw “all commercial imports of African elephant ivory, including antiques” being prohibited. 1 In a changing international environment, the United Kingdom’s antique trade faces a threat to the legitimate sale of pre-1947 worked ivory without the extent of any illegal trade being clear. With only 15 convictions since 1992 for offences relating to the trade in ivory in the English courts, this article examines the two most recent cases, which came to court in 2014.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-334
Number of pages13
JournalThe International Journal of Cultural Property
Issue number3
Early online date18 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


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