CITES & Guitars
Before you read on – In the UK it is illegal to advertise, buy or sell a guitar containing Brazilian Rosewood without the instrument having an Article 10 certificate. Therefore most pre- 1967 Fenders & Gibsons, among others. Do not believe anything else – the guitar does not have to be imported or exported. It applies to the UK home market, business, commission or private sale. E-bay, Reverb, Facebook & dealers generally choose to ignore this fact. This all kicked off in 1992.
Good news, the law was amended in 2019 and exempted Indian Rosewood (Appendix II species). The amendment is a confusing read but does not exempt Appendix I species, including Brazilian Rosewood. Most website articles do not distinguish between Indian & Brazilian Rosewood (Appendix II / Appendix I woods) and often imply Brazilian Rosewood is now exempt – this is not true.
Our personal view is that CITES should not be applied to vintage instruments already manufactured. It is nonsense, but Law. It was probably a mistake but the decision will not be reversed. Indian Rosewood rules were amended due to lobbying from major manufacturers with serious money & contacts. Unfortunately there is no such lobbying in the vintage or second hand market – which also compete with new instruments, so don’t expect the likes of Gibson to step up to the plate.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
You may have heard of CITES, (also known as the Washington Convention), seen stuffed turtles in the airport and wondered what it was about. Possibly you chose to ignore it or were given incorrect advice, often blatantly misleading. We hear all sorts of bullshit every month from businesses that know better. This is not intended to give chapter and verse on International Law regarding protection of endangered species, but hopefully make you aware of the pitfalls regarding guitars.
The Law is applied Internationally but administered differently between countries. In the UK, administration is by the Animal and Plant Health Agency APHA, Bristol.
Most issues are with Brazilian Rosewood. The Latin name is Dalbergia Nigra. Other timber species are included in listings, but occur less commonly in guitar manufacture. Unfortunately there is no specific go-to section within Government guidelines for guitars. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cites-controls-import-and-export-of-protected-species covers the lot: parrots, crocodile handbags, ivory, elephants feet, birds of prey… try getting a tune out of them.