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Strict new regulations regarding the Endangered Species Act could freeze up the market for antique items containing ivory and other endangered species materials. The ban has been particularly detrimental to collectors, dealers, museums, and musicians -- all of whom often deal with objects containing ivory and other rare materials. While the goal of the ban is to stop the poaching of elephants and rhinoceros for purposes of illicit trade, a considerable number of law-abiding American are being punished in the process.

Last week Representative Steven Daines of Montana and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee introduced bills H.R. 5052 and S. 2587 in an effort to reverse the recent changes to the Endangered Species Act. Representative Daines and Senator Alexander are confident that a more effective legislative response can be crafted. While the goal of eliminating poaching is laudable, punishing antique professionals and enthusiasts is disastrous.

It is crucial that you support the bills introduced by Representative Daines and Senator Alexander. Please follow the links to contact your state’s Senators and Representatives.

Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Representatives: http://www.house.gov/representatives/

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For years, Italy, Greece, and other ancient lands have accused American museums of ignoring evidence that antiquities in their collections were looted from archaeological sites. Five years ago, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) responded by making the requirements for acquiring ancient works much more stringent. The revised guidelines advised American museums against acquiring works unless solid proof existed that the artifact, prior to 1970, was outside the country where it was discovered in modern times, or was legally exported from that country after 1970.

 1970 remains an important date, as it marks the year UNESCO put a stop to the illicit trafficking of antiquities. The year is now regarded as the standard cutoff for collecting. Works that appear on the market without documentation dating back that far are much more likely to have been stolen, looted, or smuggled out of their countries.

 On Wednesday, January 30, 2013 the AAMD announced a few additional restrictions for American museums. The AAMD, which has 217 member museums in North America, now requires institutions to post a public explanation on the AAMD’s website if they acquire any ancient works with spotty ownership records. In addition, the museum much provide an image of the object, any known provenance information, and an explanation as to why they decided to acquire the work. If an institution fails to comply, they will be subject to ethical scrutiny and possible expulsion from the AAMD.

 Officials hope that the tighter acquisition regulations will discourage American museums from obtaining questionable artifacts while supporting transparency between the United States and nations of origin who may lay claim to the antiquities.

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