Marine Ivory

Marine ivory, commonly derived from the tusks of marine mammals like walruses and narwhals, has been historically used in the decorative arts due to its unique appearance and quality. However, like other types of ivory, the use of marine ivory has been subject to legal restrictions in many parts of the world, including England.

Uses of Marine Ivory in Decorative Arts:

  1. Carvings and Sculptures: Similar to elephant ivory, marine ivory was prized for its fine texture, making it suitable for intricate carvings and sculptures. Skilled artisans would create detailed figurines, religious objects, and decorative items using marine ivory.
  2. Inlays and Handles: Marine ivory was used as a decorative inlay material in furniture, jewelry boxes, and musical instruments, adding a touch of elegance to these objects. It was also employed as handles for knives, daggers, and other luxury items.
  3. Artistic Ornaments: Marine ivory was fashioned into decorative ornaments, often adorned with elaborate engravings and designs, to be displayed or worn as jewelry.
  4. Netsuke: As with elephant ivory, marine ivory was used to create netsuke in Japan. These small, detailed sculptures served both as functional toggles and as artistic expressions of the carver’s skill.

Current Law in England: As of my last update in September 2021, the law in England regarding ivory also covers marine ivory. The Ivory Act 2018, which aims to protect elephants and other endangered species, includes provisions to regulate the trade of marine ivory as well.

The Ivory Act 2018 prohibits the commercial trade of almost all items containing ivory, regardless of whether it comes from land-dwelling or marine animals. There are exemptions for certain pre-1947 items of outstanding artistic, cultural, or historical value, but they must meet specific criteria to qualify.

The law is designed to prevent the illegal trade in ivory and to protect vulnerable marine mammal species from overexploitation and poaching. By imposing strict regulations on the sale and possession of marine ivory, the UK aims to play its part in preserving marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

Please bear in mind that laws and regulations may change, so it’s essential to check for any updates or amendments to the Ivory Act in England since my last update in 2021.


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