While this convention has failed to stem the trade in illegal ivory, it is nonetheless the obligation of every auctioneer in Australia to implement its requirements.
Objects & Collectables Manager Maxine Winning explains the simple but important steps Leonard Joel takes every time a piece of ivory is presented to us for auction:
In order for any piece of ivory (or any object made from an endangered species) to be sold through our auction rooms, the vendor must complete two steps out of our three-step process. Firstly, the item in question needs to have a statutory declaration filled out. This form asks the vendor to declare what the object is made from, when and how they came into possession of it, and what, if any knowledge do they have about when the specimen came into Australia. Anything that has been brought into Australia post 1975 (the year CITIES came into effect) is illegal to sell. Leonard Joel’s stance is slightly different in as much as we have eliminated the sale of all but a handful of pieces that pre-date 1921.
After the Statutory Declaration has been completed, it is then the vendor’s responsibility to take their declaration and object to be sighted and signed by a Justice of the Peace. Leonard Joel then completes the final step with a specialist filling out their own Expert Statement of Age, declaring the period and material they believe the item to be. Once all three steps have been completed, the relevant information is sent to the Wildlife Trade Compliance. Only then can we sell the item once approval has been given by our contacts at WTC. If the information is not deemed sufficient we return the item in question to the vendor.
We take pride in our stance in our limited trade of ivory and other materials associated with endangered animals and as an auction house, we have seen a massive shift in the right direction since these new measures have been introduced.
Objects & Collectables Manager