Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Wednesday, 8 October 2014
Baby's first dagger
eBay have just told me that I am not allowed to sell this little, antique, miniature knife, because it contravenes their Safety policies. The blade is two inches long.
I thought I might have trouble with them, because a few years ago, I tried to sell a set of very blunt, antique, French fruit knives which they also took down.
I argued with them, and they eventually relented and put them back up again, along with an apology for wasting my time.
Then a different department took them down again on the grounds that the bone handles may have come from an endangered species. I pointed out that a cutler working with household items in 1890s Paris was hardly likely to seek out Tiger bone when all those cattle were being slaughtered and rendered down on a daily basis, so they asked for proof. There was not enough profit in the fruit knives to justify sending them off for scientific analysis, so I just gave up and shut up.
They have - quite rightly - a very strict policy on the sale of ivory, and since I have heard that an Elephant gets killed by a poacher every fifteen minutes, I totally agree with this policy. What I don't agree with, however, is that there is a lop-hole in it which allows the sale of ivory items over a certain age. If you allow the sale of these items on eBay, then you continue to feed the demand for ivory and Elephants will continue to die needlessly.
Years ago, I placed an obviously antique ivory item on eBay (I would not do this now) and they took it down saying that unless they received written confirmation from an antique dealer to say that this item was over a certain age, they would not allow its sale.
So I wrote to them saying I was an antique dealer, and this could be proved by the simple fact that they had forced me to become a 'business seller', and that I could confirm that this item was indeed over 100 years old. They wouldn't have it.
Lots of modern ivory objects are sold on eBay right now, and the code-name for 'ivory' (the very word triggers alarm bells set off by sniffer software if used) is 'ox bone'. I wrote to someone selling an 'ox bone' item once and asked if this was what 'the stuff which cannot be named' is called on eBay. He simply replied, 'Yes'.
On another occasion, I was selling a cattle-bone item of great age, and a stupid Chinaman asked the question, "Is this item ivory?" It was automatically removed from eBay within minutes and I was warned that I would be barred for life if ever I tried to sell ivory again. I hate that Chinaman for being so stupid.
I have just sold this 18th century, Scottish Snuff Mull (the Scots loved to put snuff in animal horns, for some reason) to a Spaniard in Madrid, and I am amazed that I got away with it. I was expecting eBay to accuse me of killing endangered Highland creatures for the whole seven days, but their software didn't seem to pick up on it.
The Spaniard din't pay for it for almost a week, so I began to worry that he had caught Ebola and never would. He paid last night, so I know that - for the time being - he is alive and well.