It’s coming for sure. But collectors and dealers can only guess how long they have before the ivory ban express, currently thundering down the track, hits them, pretty much full on. The shape of the impact is being heavily leaked by an organisation operating under the acronym BAMF (The British Art Market Federation). You might not be acquainted with this none too illustrious organisation but, like it or not, BAMF (representative of several, but not all, art and antique trade organisations) has somehow emerged as the exclusive negotiator in a process which has apparently attracted more than 60,000 representations from the trade and the general public.
Publications by tags
Paul Harris (extreme left), author of this post, pictured in 1956 at the Cartwright Memorial Hall Museum, Bradford, before a working model of a Victorian invention. Cutting/picture courtesy The Telegraph & Argus
It is hardly a challenge faced by museum curators in the West, where basement storerooms and dusty attics are crammed with a myriad of currently unfashionable exhibits: stuffed birds and preserved fish, oil paintings of morose Highland cattle, World War II gas masks, working models of minor 19th century inventions, and the like. Decades, if not hundreds of years, of collecting, and of dedicated collectors turned benefactors, have stuffed museums to bursting point. In continental Europe, the tides of war have tended to clear out the stockrooms on occasion, but in the UK, particularly, the stuff has built up and, occasionally, selections are made for some new thematic presentation. In the face of pressures of space and cash, acquisitions run at a relatively modest level.