The Antiques Trade Gazette is reporting the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) amended its guidance to allow sale of items that are at least 100 years old and contain less than 20% ivory to be sold. This should allow the sale of antique items with ivory accents such as boxes, canes, musical instruments etc, so long as the ivory content is less than 20%. It will also allow the sale of ivory miniatures, as it deems the ivory content very thin, and is therefore presuming the content is less than 20%. The presumption can be challenged on a case by case basis. OK, you have to love the bureaucratic process.
The ATG reports on the new NY DEC guidance, see the applicable sections from the NY DEC Q&A is in the second block quote, and the full Q&A can be found by following the source link under the second block quote.
Source: The Antiques Trade GazetteNew York to permit trade in ivory miniatures
Guidance issued this month by the authorities charged with implementing New York’s latest ivory laws has offered a few crumbs of comfort to art dealers and owners of antique ivory works of art.
In particular, while the ban remains near wholesale, the trade in portrait miniatures will be permitted within the state lines, under rules outlined by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
It is a last-minute amendment to the bill - one that permits the sale of items at least 100 years old that contain less than 20% ivory - which has provided the 'wriggle room'.
The guidance around the 20% rule issued by the DEC on December 4 allows for the possibility that canes with ivory handles and boxes and caddies that use ivory veneers around a timber carcass can be sold.
Under the heading How do I determine whether ivory… comprises less than 20% of an antique?, the notes say "a reasonable estimate of volume, weight or surface area is acceptable".
Importantly, the document (available via the DEC website) includes a specific clause permitting the sale of portrait miniatures on the grounds that the veneer of ivory used as a support is "no thicker than a piece of paper".
In addition, the guidance states: "The percentage of ivory by volume used in the portrait miniature will be presumed less than 20%."
Rhinoceros horn and mammoth ivory are subject to the same rules that passed into law in August, despite opposition from Sotheby's, Christie's and trade associations including the Art and Antiques Dealers League of America and the Appraisers Association of America.
US Federal laws introduced in February, covering the entire United States, already tightly restrict ivory imports and interstate sales.
In essence, these nationwide regulations ban the commercial import of African ivory of any age, while domestic and export trade will be limited to antiques defined as objects more than 100 years old.
Source: NY DEC16. How do I determine whether ivory or horn comprises less than 20% of an antique?
• For antiques whose ivory or rhinoceros horn includes one or more pieces of worked ivory or rhinoceros horn attached to a body made of other material (such as a cane with an ivory handle or tip, buttons or pulls), evidence should be submitted as to the overall three-dimensional volume or weight of the ivory or horn piece(s) in relation to the overall three-dimensional volume or weight of the object.
• For antiques whose ivory or rhinoceros horn consists primarily of thin slices inlaid into
the surface, evidence should be submitted as to the surface area or volume of the inlays in relation to the overall surface area or volume of the object.
• A reasonable estimate of volume, weight or surface area is acceptable. Evidence may
include pictures, calculations and other data.
• For antiques that contain recent, non-original additions to the object, the new parts must be reasonably consistent with the original configuration of the antique as a whole. Nonoriginal additions may not be considered in determining whether the object meets the 20% threshold for antiques to the extent that they reduce the proportion of ivory or horn in the object.
17. Are portrait miniatures less than 20% by volume of ivory?
A portrait miniature is a miniature portrait painting usually made between the 18th-century and the early 20th-century that used ivory as the medium for the painting. The ivory used in these works was no thicker than a piece of paper. Although the circumference is not standard, the volume of ivory used is approximately the same percentage for every portrait miniature. The percentage of ivory by volume used in the portrait miniature will be presumed less than 20%. However, this presumption may be rebutted by evidence to the contrary on a case-by-case basis.