In your last issue, I read a letter submitted by Ed Harris of the National Humane Society. In it he suggests that the collection of ivory is a barbaric, horrendous and shameful hobby that should be ended.
It is well-known that his group is attempting to ban all sales of any object made wholly or in part from animal ivory. This would include antiquities purchased legally by passionate and responsible collectors. Such a ban would render their collections worthless.
This type of ban would include furniture with inlays, early painted portraits, pool tables and balls, walking sticks, chess sets, historic arms, scientific instruments, scrimshaw, musical instru-ments such as pianos, guitars, bagpipes, violin bows, etc. The one thing Mr. Harris does get right is that the major cause of this horrific act of elephant poaching is demand in China and other Asian countries for the ivory tusks. On the other hand, he conveniently fails to mention the long-standing U.S. laws that prohibit any type of importation or purchase of modern ivory. Facts show that there is little to no interest in America for modern carved ivory trinkets and that most ivory trade takes place within the antiques world.
It is urgent and important that the world work to combat elephant and rhino poaching; but at the same time the rights of Americans, who have done nothing illegal, must be protected as well.
Destroying fine antiquities and their value will do nothing to save the life of another elephant but could well have a serious impact on the financial well-being of many law-abiding collectors who were planning on the value of their antiques collections to help fund their retirements.