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AppraiserJM, Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 1623
Experience:  Certified Appraiser, Appraiser's Association of America. USPAP qualified through 2015.
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Can you value a Samurai sword? Pictures attached.

Customer Question

Hi ******, can you value a Samurai sword? Pictures attached. It's 38" long, blade is 1" wide, handle is 2" wide.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Antiques
Expert:  Robert S. replied 6 months ago.
Hi! Thanks for asking me to do this beautiful sword.You weren't to know this so I apologize for the surprise, but I've stopped doing appraisals on ivory and ivory-related items for environmental reasons, so I hope you won't be offended if I decline to give you an answer on this, but please by all means have this looked at by someone else if you wish.It doesn't mean I appreciate these old carved pieces any less, it's just that their continued trade is inevitably connected to the trade in illegal (post-1989 ban) ivory and the sooner all trade in ivory ceases the better, in my opinion. The African elephant is teetering on the edge of extinction, 100,000 slaughtered in the last three years alone.Even though all antique ivory (which yours is) is "pre-ban ivory" (pre-1989) and therefore exempted from trade restrictions up till now, this is changing. On Feb 11th last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced new regulations prohibiting all imports, even antiques made partly or entirely of the material.Trading across state lines is still legal but a number of states are considering their own restrictions and many auction houses have started declining a range of objects made of ivory. Ebay and many other on line retailers have also banned all sales of ivory, unless it's an antique with ivory parts, like an old Steinway piano, for instance, that has ivory keys [though this is plenty ironic considering the piano, for over a hundred years up to the 1920s when all piano keys were made of ivory, was responsible for the use of countless thousands of tons of ivory, more than for all other uses combined and then some].Whether a total ban is a good thing, or whether it will merely drive ivory further onto the black market remains to be seen, and it certainly doesn't deal with the issue of what we are supposed to do with all the ivory ornaments the world over in order to take them out of commercial circulation. For that I have no practical or happy solution.Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now! Thanks for understanding.Best wishes,Robert
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thanks Robert, can you suggest somewhere that we can get this appraised? It's very old and it needs to be sold. Jan
Expert:  Robert S. replied 6 months ago.
Sure, I'll just opt out here and another expert will opt in and appraise it for you.You don't have to do anything, your question automatically goes back on the open board for all the other experts to see.Thanks!Robert
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Anyone answering my question?
Expert:  AppraiserJM replied 6 months ago.
Hi, my name is*****'m a certified appraiser, and I'd be happy to help.Here's your issue, which Robert explained in part.Asian ivory cannot be sold across state lines, or in-state, until it is 100 years old, with proof it has not been restored more recently.AND...and this is a big need absolute proof, and subsequent CITES documentation, that the item was brought into the United States either before 1975, or after but through one of the 13 ports specifically designated for antiques.If you don't have documentation about the date of importation, or proof it was here before 1975 (a family photo or letter often works), then it's unsalable and actually has a value of $0.Do you have proof of date of import, or at least proof it was in the US prior to the dates mentioned?Jennifer
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
This is part of my late employers estate. We will search for documentation. Thanks so much for replying so soon.
Expert:  AppraiserJM replied 6 months ago.
You're welcome. If anything turns up, please come back here and I can advise on what steps you can take next.Jennifer

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