Now twenty months in to our voluntary policy we are still fielding questions about what our policy allows and disallows us from trading in and also what comes in to effect for Leonard Joel from
1 January 2019. Here below we review the spirit of our policy and its rationale.
At the heart of our policy there are three key principles that guide our cessation.
Firstly, our position is that while markets are made for these materials (old or new), value is maintained in the materials and encourages continuous poaching. Secondly, the situation for Rhinoceros populations is so dire that we could not in good conscience continue to deal in any Rhino material; no matter how old, how intricately carved or culturally significant that piece may be. And finally, our view is that all voluminous or whole elephant ivory should be removed from circulation as it is these pieces that both legitimise their continued use in decoration and by extension maintain a value for the material.
It is this final principle that drives our De Minimis exceptions as we seek to strike a balance between our sincere policy goals and certain decorative arts and instruments that, while containing ivory elements, do not overtly celebrate or promote
So where are we now with our policy?
At this point our decision on 1 January 2017 committed Leonard Joel to never deal in any Rhinoceros horn or whole/uncarved ivory again and any carved ivory pieces that could not be confidently dated as pre-1921. This commitment alone all but eliminated, literally overnight, our regular trade in 20th century ivory but continued to enable our trade in carved antique pieces and pieces where the ivory elements were incidental to the overall piece; that is, they met the De Minimis principle.
And where have we to go?
The final phase of our policy involves us removing from our market place all whole or predominantly whole ivory carved pieces regardless of age. This is undeniably the most courageous aspect of our policy as we commit to the principle that the continued trade in voluminous ivory pieces (regardless of age) maintains value in the material and therefore encourages continued poaching. Put simply, the flawed mental construct and argument that somehow “old” ivory does not feed the problem is a commercially convenient lie that Leonard Joel can no longer live with.
What will 2019 look like?
This will be the year that De Minimis begins to inform us as an auction house and perhaps it can best be described by illustrating a Lot that in 2019 would no longer harmonise with our policy; it is an antique ivory puzzle ball that we sold on
16 October 2016 and it was the very last time I found ivory removed from an elephant beautiful.
John Albrecht, Managing Director