Selling Vintage Ivory – An Uphill Battle

We’ve written about ivory before and thought we’d do it again because of this incredible museum piece that came through our door several years ago. Before the recent ivory ban, large, late-1700s to 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.

An Intricate Carved Ivory

ivory horses
19th century stein


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 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 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.

A Bejeweled Stein

This ornate, bejeweled stein is over 16 inches 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 paid our client $3,500 for this, and it will likely bring $4,500 to $5,000 … if we are able to sell it.

bejeweled stein

$4,500-$5,000 / 18TH-19TH CENTURY BEJEWELED IVORY 

This is an archival article formerly written and is for informational purposes only. The valuations in this article have likely changed since it was first written.

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