Wednesday, February 26, 2014

You Read It Here First

As the proposed Federal ban on ivory emerges from the dark halls of congress, more and more people are becoming concerned about how it will affect their lives and the future of any cultural object which contains ivory.  Today, the online magazine Antiques posted an insightful article which addresses this issue in some detail.

Read it here:Online Antiques Magazine: Banning Ivory
Please click on the link in this article to read the text of the ban.

Of course, I posted last December the news that this ban was being formulated, and that there was an urgent need for public input before it went too far.  However, as the Antiques article notes, only one member of the committee who worked on this proposed legislation had any connection with the market place, and that was ebay.

As the article also suggests, it may become necessary in the future, in order to sell your antique piano, that you will have to remove all the ivory keys and have them replaced with plastic.  A note of irony here, in that plastic is made from petroleum.  The logic of this is that we throw away the remains of dead elephants and replace them with the remains of dead dinosaurs!

Looking to the future, I live in a home which is full of period furniture made from Cuban mahogany.  I just purchased last week a wonderful large English Renaissance cabinet made of Brazilian rosewood.  Since both of these materials are also listed on the CITIES endangered species list, do I need to consider sending them to the landfill and buying IKEA replacements, also made with toxic chemical components?

For years I have collected early 19th century American clocks with wood works.  Naturally, all the bushings in these works are little pieces of ivory.  Should I take all the clocks apart and replace the bushings with plastic?

Last week I had a series of frantic calls from a rich client in San Francisco who was concerned about the flame retardant chemicals and petroleum based foam upholstery in her modern Italian sofa.  She wanted the modern look but asked me if I could completely replace the upholstery with jute, cotton, muslin, burlap and horsehair.  When I looked into the construction of the frame, I found it was tubular steel, like a car seat.  The only part I could keep, should I take the job, would be the iron feet.

She also told me that the use of horsehair stuffing was "illegal" in San Francisco.  I found that hard to believe, so I contacted F.P. Woll & Co., in Philadelphia, where I purchase horsehair, and asked them if they knew of anyplace in the country where horsehair is "illegal.  They laughed.

I suspect that the upholsterers in San Francisco don't really know how to work with traditional materials any more, so they just use the excuse that it is "illegal" to be able to sell their foam and staples.  Just a theory.

Where are we headed, if all the traditional materials used in the creation of wonderful works of art are lost or forbidden, only to be replaced with modern man made substitutes?

Just asking.

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