Dealing with real ivory

Jeff Saylor

Well-known member
I just acquired an entire Baldwin baby grand piano keyboard from a friend and it has real ivory and ebony keys.  Dealing with the ivory, what legal problems may I encounter if I use these veneers for inlay material in future projects?  I have no paperwork, only pics of the disassembled keyboard.

Thanks for any input.
I checked in to this a little while ago.

The sale of ivory is banned, you need proper documentation of the ivories source, you may no need to keep it but the original seller of the ivory is required to keep a record. If you can prove the Ivory pre dates the ban, it is assumed that it is legal ivory.

Basically this means that if you can prove the furniture is 200 years old and it has ivory in it, your OK.

For your case, I am assuming the ivory was from a piano that pre-dates the ban. So you can use it, but you need to keep proof that you took it from a piano that had legal ivory on it.

That's federal law.

Some state laws are different. Most no longer allow you to bring it in to your state. I live in NY and they have some of the most restrictive laws. The worst being you can not transport ivory across state lines. Meaning you can not bring it in or out of the state legally no matter the age. This has become a problem for musicians with antique instruments.

It's a pain but here are some links to legal ivory sellers in the country that have good explanations on their web pages:

Thank you for the links.  The guitar parts and more link has a good explanation of the "de minimis" exception criteria which was what I was looking for.