Ivory & CITES Regulations

Ivory & CITES Regulations

At Adam Partridge Auctioneers & Valuers, we hold ourselves to the highest exacting standards regarding current regulations for ivory and other endangered species, as per CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).



In December 2018, the Ivory Bill was given assent to become law in the UK, and thus The Ivory Act will come into effect in late 2019. This will, for the most part, see a total ban on the sale of ivory of any age, and also of export from or import to the UK. Anyone found in breach of the new law will face heavy fines and possibly even a prison sentence.


There will, however, be narrow and carefully defined exemptions, which according to gov.uk are:


  • Items with only a small amount of ivory. Such items must comprise of less than 10% ivory by volume and have been made prior to 1947
  • Musical instruments. These must have an ivory content of less than 20% and have been made prior to 1975
  • Portrait miniatures. A specific exemption for portrait miniatures – which were often painted on thin slivers of ivory – made before 1918
  • Sales to and between accredited museums. This applies museums accredited by Arts Council England, the Welsh Government, The Scottish Government or the Northern Ireland Museums Council in the UK, or, for museums outside the UK, The International Council of Museums
  • The rarest and most important items of their type. Items of outstanding artistic, cultural or historic significance, and made prior to 1918. Such items will be subject to the advice of specialists at institutions such as the UK’s most prestigious museums.


The African elephant population is now at a critical marker with one third of the elephant population having been wiped out since 2007. Even now around 20,000 are slaughtered every year to meet the demand of the global ivory trade. China, previously home to the greatest legal and illegal traders in ivory, in 2017 announced a ban on domestic ivory trading. Other countries leading the way in reversing the situation for African elephants include Africa and the USA and until now there has been a great concern that the UK, alongside other European countries, were falling behind.


Adam Partridge Auctioneers & Valuers are very happy to offer advice on ivory.


In the UK, as well as many other countries, the trade of endangered species is regulated by CITES (The Convention  on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Its purpose is to ensure that the trade of such species does not endanger their survival.

As an auction house, it is very important for us to work closely with CITES, particularly when dealing with taxidermy, animal skins, musical instruments and furniture made from tropical timbers.

The most common example that we encounter is South American rosewood, particularly in pieces made post 1947, such as the increasingly popular furniture of the 1960s and 1970s, by manufacturers such as Gordon Russell, Archie Shine and Merrow & Associates.

By law, in order to be able to sell such pieces, one must acquire a license from CITES. There are a number of varying criteria for such a license, depending on species and export destination. This is something that we are happy to apply for on a client’s behalf and charge for retrospectively.

Adam Partridge Auctioneers & Valuers are more than happy to discuss any queries regarding CITES, whether an item requires a license or the process itself.





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