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Thread: Traveling across oceans with a Mahogany camera

  1. #1

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    Traveling across oceans with a Mahogany camera

    Hi, I have been trying to purchase mahogany quarter plate holders from the UK for my British Lizars camera and twice, the plate holders were held by the UK customs for being restricted for export to Canada.

    Both times, the customs paid me the cost of the purchase and the sellers kept their money but no explanation was ever given to us.
    I have an 8x10 camera with mahogany wood and I would like to take it with me next time I go to Europe. I can live without quarter plate holders but it would be a different story if customs in Europe or in Canada take the 8x10 camera away from me.

    Did anyone ever have troubles traveling with cameras or other objects made of mahogany?

  2. #2

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    Re: Traveling across oceans with a Mahogany camera

    Never had a problem with mahogany, but certainly with antique piano/organ keys (ivory). Proving that they are old enough to be exempted was impossible. Logic, like they ae attached to a 19th century instrument does not seem to matter.

  3. #3

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    Re: Traveling across oceans with a Mahogany camera

    I thought it was about rosewood and other endangered species???

    Steve K

  4. #4

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    Re: Traveling across oceans with a Mahogany camera


  5. #5

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    Re: Traveling across oceans with a Mahogany camera

    This is what I tried to buy:
    https://www.ebay.ca/itm/174922236792

    And this is what the shipment tracking is showing:
    Sep 16, 2021
    6:52am
    Undeliverable - Item restricted at Global Shipping Center
    Lichfield, Staffordshire WS13 8UR
    Sep 15, 2021
    6:19am
    Delay at Global Shipping Center – Item Potentially Restricted
    Lichfield, Staffordshire WS13 8UR

  6. #6
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Traveling across oceans with a Mahogany camera

    There are all kinds of mahogany, some of it endangered, some of it abundant, and many similar looking woods which are not genetically related. It would take an expert to tell them all apart. British customs can really be arcane. I once had a terrible time getting a Sinar Norma camera from a British dealer due to it being classified as "electronics" capable of being illicitly copied offshore. Well, it was never a British product to begin with, and contains zero electronics. But the mere fact that is was a few years shy of being classifiable as an official antique meant that the only pigeonhole available was as a modern camera, which was lumped into the category of electronics. It got held up for months in customs, and was nearly returned without my consent.

    And here the opposite conundrum has popped up. An antique wooden camera potentially being held as a border no-no, even though the species harvest transpired long ago before any such laws existed! Seems that some of the Brit laws really were formulated on the completely wrong side of the International Date Line, somewhere back in fuddy-duddy Medieval times. With entire grand estates in England, including those of royalty, being originally built with now endangered or extinct exotic hardwoods, is it illegal to sell one of those mansions to a foreigner, or even send a set of furniture to someone outside the country raise money (as is frequently done)? A lot of contradictions involved.

  7. #7

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    Re: Traveling across oceans with a Mahogany camera

    How did they know that they are mahogany… declared or by inspection?

    I have two cameras and similar holders, mahogany I think, but carried them by hand from England. Nobody looked or cared. I guess I was lucky or before mahogany became an issue.
    Last edited by BrianShaw; 8-Oct-2021 at 15:17.

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Traveling across oceans with a Mahogany camera

    A good idea would be to travel with a duplicate copy of your purchase information. And when purchasing something like this to begin with, the term Antique itself should be prominently on the listing, receipt, and shipping manifest - all three. These laws are in place to protect against the ongoing cutting or slaughter of endangered species. A major exporter might have all the paperwork in place to smooth the process (or pay off officials to overlook counterfeit documents), whereas a simple individual goes to the bottom of the stack. The more complex problem is when older architectural wood gets recycled into new products, which is ideal from a conservation standpoint, but complicated from a customs standpoint.

    Ivory is a bit more easily readable, because carved old ivory items have distinct signs they are indeed older, and not made from recent elephant slaughter. Fossil ivory and carvings from frozen mammoth and mastodon tusk, as generally allowable if there's a distinct documented chain of transfer on the original lot, DNA-verifiable if push comes to shove.

    All kinds of tree species are involved. Real Burmese teak is now contraband, but not the many similar looking lesser woods deceptively sold as teak furniture all kinds of places. Rosewood can mean all kinds of things as a highly abused marketing term itself. The real deal requires more expertise to recognize. But the British are especially skilled at turning relatively straightforward tasks into bureaucratic nightmares. I'll never buy a camera from there again.

  9. #9
    Foamer
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    Re: Traveling across oceans with a Mahogany camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post

    All kinds of tree species are involved. Real Burmese teak is now contraband, but not the many similar looking lesser woods deceptively sold as teak furniture all kinds of places. Rosewood can mean all kinds of things as a highly abused marketing term itself. The real deal requires more expertise to recognize. But the British are especially skilled at turning relatively straightforward tasks into bureaucratic nightmares. I'll never buy a camera from there again.

    I had a little trouble a year ago. I play the recorder, wooden flutes popular in the 17th & early 18th C. I bought one from Netherlands that was rosewood. Seller had trouble shipping it and changed it to "psallinder" and it sailed right through.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  10. #10
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Traveling across oceans with a Mahogany camera

    Try smuggling tulip bulbs out of the Netherlands if you want a real challenge. It could land you behind bars.

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