Can You Sell Vintage Ivory at an Estate Sale?

Yes, well I mean, maybe
…let me explain…

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Material Culture Auctions (Estimate $700.00)

In the viewpoint of the marketplace there really are two kinds of ivory. Contemporary Ivory and Vintage/Antique Ivory. Each of these two categories of ivory are treated very differently. In the case of contemporary ivory, you don’t stand much of a chance legally selling it, in most of the US. Its sale has for many obvious and good reasons been banned here in the U.S. In the case of Vintage and Antique Ivory, proper sales channels do exist, in other words there are places you can sell  Vintage and Antique Ivory.

But you have to be careful.

How you sell Antique or Vintage Ivory
depends on what state you live in

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Main Auction Gallery (Estimate $700.00)

In California, there is a high burden of proof to certifying the age and provenance of ivory. Just because you say it is old, or that it looks old, does not mean that it is old. Other states in the country seem to have more tolerance towards the sale of Vintage and Antique Ivory. So if you live in California, you will want to check in with the larger auction houses in the Mid-West and the East Coast, to see how they may be able to assist you.

Use common sense, ask lots of questions.

It is likely best to send your Ivory to Auction

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Sant’Agostino Auctions (Estimate €30,000)

If I had antique ivory items like those above, there is no part of me that would want to offer them for sale in an estate sale, and I conduct estate sales. So, please heed my caution; ivory items of an extraordinary nature need to be offered for sale in one of the better auction houses in order to have them generate the sales results they deserve, national auction houses have far better ways of attracting the best national buyers. They get better results.

But make sure that the state where the auction house resides, has laws allowing for the sale of Antique or Vintage Ivory. Confiscations have occurred at auction houses, and once your ivory has been confiscated, there may be very little chance that you will ever be able to get your item(s) back.

Many Bronze Statues also Contain Ivory

Bronze and Ivory Statue by Edouard DROUOT Circa 1859-1945)

Antiques Supermarket (Sold for $18,000)

The biggest threat to your vintage or antique collection of ivory is that it might be confiscated at its point of sale. At this time in the U.S. for antique or vintage ivory, there is no prohibition to its ownership, there are only some restrictions to its sale, and these restrictions vary state by state. So learn the law and how those laws pertain to you.

Of course, as I usually suggest, get professional advice, it’ll save you so much potential frustration. Who needs to have their legal to own ivory, confiscated because of a faulty sales strategy? No one!

Here is a guide that can help a bit: A Guide to Wildlife and Plant Protection Laws

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"


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