What’s It Worth? Selling Vintage Ivory — An Uphill Battle

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We’ve written about ivory before and thought we’d do it again, because of this incredible museum piece that walked through our door several years ago.
Before the recent ivory ban, large, late-1700s–early-1800s Austrian and German steins like this brought $10,000 to $20,000. Today, selling such a piece has become so fraught with difficulty that months of research and authentication are required just to be able to sell it.
This ornate, bejeweled stein is over 16" tall, and is adorned with an intricate carving of a battle scene depicting some 35 to 40 men and 15 to 20 horses — all locked in mortal combat. The metal is silverplate, which is consistent with the few examples of these that have shown up. We only paid our client $3,500 for this, and it will likely bring only $4,500 to $5,000 ... if we are able to sell it.
Selling ivory is now prohibited with few exceptions. Pre-existing items with added ivory — such as furniture, musical instruments, tea sets, mugs, steins and items such as firearms containing fewer than 200 grams – are exempt. Antiques at least a century old are also exempt, but owners must prove an artifact’s age through a professional appraisal or some other verifiable document according to Fish & Wildlife Director, Dan Ashe.
While we will easily be able to prove this stein meets the age requirement, it is difficult to ascertain if there is more or less than 200 grams of ivory without destroying the piece.  
If you have a rare or unusual antique you’d like to sell, we would love to buy it or include it in one of our upcoming auctions.



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