Anyone know the legality of using ivory from old pianos?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Bugeater281, May 27, 2019.

  1. Bugeater281

    Bugeater281 Tele-Meister

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    So a family member of mine is getting rid of a piano that needs more work than it’s worth. And I’m pretty sure the keys are topped with real ivory and ebony. Granted the keys arnt in great shape, I would still be able to save some useable material. I figured I would never be able to sell it. But what about personal projects? The piano is from the late 40s to early 50s.
     
  2. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Fine to use for personal stuff. Good luck proving where you got it if you go to sell it - that's the tricky part.
     
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  3. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    The ivory on that piano might be paper thin. It's also likely to be synthetic. I have a piano from the 1890s and it has synthetic keys.

    Per real ivory, I make guitar nuts from it. I believe it is ok to ship within U.S. borders, just not across international ones.
    That's not understanding anyway. At least nobody has said anything to me yet.
     
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  4. Bugeater281

    Bugeater281 Tele-Meister

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    Looks like your right. Put a hot needle on the Ivory and it made some red streaks. So I’m guessing it’s synthetic. However the ebony is real.
     
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  5. ponce

    ponce Tele-Holic

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    So, it's better to throw it away than recycle it? Law and order...
     
  6. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Legality questions aside, do you want to create the demand by marketing "hey, I have this guitar with real ivory and real ebony and a few other fragile rain forest materials -- get something unique and tone-ful!" which you sell to a guy that plays on stage and he upsells via great playing and talking about the wonderful guitar, how you can still hear the elephants scream and the timber falling, so more people to seek out these materials to put on their guitars. Now an epidemic of poachers are running around various countries seeking these materials.

    Or you can use regular local pine, maple, walnut, ash, and so on.

    Use some Blue Pine, there is a lot of it being created by a fungus killing pine trees out West.

    .
     
  7. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

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    Reclaimed lumber is good. I have a Musikraft neck with an Ipe fingerboard (Brazilian Walnut) that was reclaimed from the Coney Island Boardwalk, which was built in the 1920's and replaced in 2010. The lumber must be at least 150 years old, and it's as good a neck as any ebony board I've ever owned. Reclaimed materials is a good thing. Right now, the country of Botswana is considering lifting the ban on elephant hunting, and has recommended that the meat be used in pet food. Really?
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
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  8. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    it could be used to practice inlay work , thats an art unto its self , take picture of the piano as you harvest the stuff from it incase there is some down the road complications
     
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  9. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I went on to google and surched legalities Harvesting old Ivroy from pianos in the USA , there is some interesting reading, lots of articles
     
  10. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Poster Extraordinaire

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    One of that age will not have ivory.
    I used to source old pianos (antique but beyond economical restoration) to make acoustic guitars from. Cabinets are usually mohogany or cherry (often highly figured), Sound boards (if not split) are solid spruce, black keys are ebony, white keys are ivory, base frame is usually maple or spruce. They would have otherwise been thrown away It was all there to make an acoustic guitar with old seasoned wood. I only ever made a few.
    Here is the kicker. I would either haul them off for free or pay $100 for them. The harps are 200lbs of cast bronze. I could scrap the bronze for $300 back then. I have one of these left in my living room. Its 123years old now. I will restore it for my wife someday. There is no mistaking ivory. It has a sinuous grain. You can sell the keys to piano restoration shops. I used some for inlay work only to find out it is illegal to sell products made with any ivory. You can make nuts and bridges from it but bone is a far better material. If the piano is trully done, there will be many materials you can repurpose.
     
  11. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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  12. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    My Dad made me some guitar picks he made from piano key ivory.
    It was probably 40 years ago, and I kept one in my wallet for years, as a keepsake.
    I tried using them a few times, but they were too stiff and brittle.
     
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  13. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Poster Extraordinaire

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    Btw, disasembling a piano is not for the timid. An upright will take every last bit of room in a 2 car garage. There is more hardware in a piano than you can imagine. If you would like to find a buyer for the soundboard and outer cabinet, materials, contact the fine people at LINT
    Luthiers Interactive of North Texas
    https://www.lint.org/

    Completely forgot to add. There is a procedure for not breaking the harp or sound board. Loosen the first course strings a little at a time over a number of days! Then the second and finally third. Never cut them!!!
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
  14. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    It's OK to use. But selling is an issue. Ivory is usually easy to tell from plastic. Especially where worn.
     
  15. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Holic

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    There are pretty clear cut laws regarding ivory in the U.S.

    I remember when the marine mammal protection law was passed. There is pre-ban ivory and post-ban ivory. I've known a few carvers and scrimshaw artists, most of them native Alaskans from the villages. There was an accommodation made for them under the law, but all work had to be clearly signed.

    I've seen lots of ivory that came from the waters of Alaska - walrus, narwhale, whales teeth, etc. It's been a part of native subsistence life for thousands of years.



    If you've never checked it out, the fossilized ivory is pretty cool stuff, and legal :).

    You can find it in most of the colors in a rainbow. It picks up is coloration from minerals in the soil it was buried in.





    Best Regards,
    Geo.
     
  16. Pickin N Grinin

    Pickin N Grinin Tele-Meister

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    I would not overthink it. If you got it, use it.
     
  17. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    There might be some good maple in the soundboard, if you're willing to break the thing down.
     
  18. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Whatever you have, if it's for you use it.This isn't a dictatorship yet. As for elephant meat for pets? God forbid!. The only known intact wooly mammoths were found frozen in Siberia.The authority's were notified but the villagers were faster.Scientists came,in some cases from all over very excited to find the bones had been picked clean.In anger they confronted said villagers and the only reply received was the Russian version of delicious! Dogfood indeed!!!! :mad:
     
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  19. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Tele-Afflicted

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    I did a lot of research on shipping various woods internationally a few years back. In trying to determine whether I would be violating any laws that I wasn't aware of I came across an article on ivory as well. I tried finding it again probably a year ago to answer this same question on this forum, but couldn't, so you'll just have to take my word (or don't take my word) for it. Basically it said that if you have an old piece of ivory, even if it's 200 years old and perfectly fine to own, the moment you turn it into something else it becomes brand new and therefore forbidden. So let's say you had some piano keys, they can stay piano keys, but turn those keys into guitar picks and now you're dealing with a heavily restricted and controlled material. If you're just doing thos for home use, it would be pretty hard to get caught, but try proving the age of that ivory. To me it's not worth the hassle.

    Again though, this account is just my memory of an article I read several years ago and can't find again. So consider the source ;)
     
  20. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    As far as ivory is concerned, I made the decision a long time ago to simply not use it, no mater how long its been dead or fossilized or from a Native who is allowed to hunt it or anything else. There are acceptable substitutes, I sleep well.

    As far as various other CITES materials - I have had the pleasure of shipping two guitars from the US to Austria and NZ that contained Appendix II materials. The paperwork was straight forward and NZ customs even helped and advised me on the best way to bring it in.
     
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