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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 7:54 pm 
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Needed 7 flutes to be inspected yesterday so instead of the remote inspection I headed over to my friendly APHIS office by the airport, followed by a lovely and important time with my engraving muse Nico and a brief drop off of mail and Filipino Phil's Nuclear Meltdown Hot Sauce for my daughter before heading home and then heading off to Gig Harbor to hear a concert by the Danish group Songspiel. Was a great day.

The Biologists at the Plant Inspection Station (USDA-APHIS) are great people and fun to hang out with. One of them has actually been to American Science and Surplus where last year I scored that huge pile of LeBlanc clarinet tubes. Mike the inspector is very prompt and careful on the paperwork and makes sure I have certified copies for my records. He asks me a lot of good questions in terms of how we can make this process smoother and other scuttlebut and appreciates my role as the CITES whisperer.

Further to that mission he would like to build up a wood sample library for the Seattle office and maybe some of the other busy ones. So I'll be bringing him samples of all the woods that I use, CITES classified or not, including samples of Ebonies that he can contrast with African Blackwood. They are dramatically different on the microscopic scales. There were about 12 boom microscopes of different types in the inspection lab where I took out all of my flutes. I am going to inquire to see if they have any that are "Government Surplus".

One wood that I don't have samples of is Cocus. I think I gave the last of what I had to Peter Noy. I have Blackwood, Boxwood, Ebony, Mopane. I might still have a little bit of Honduran Rosewood but no Cocobolo, Kingwood, and other frequently used Rosewoods. I am putting out a request for other makers to sed me samples of wood that you use so their reference collection is complete, and they don't confiscate something that isn't CITES listed. It is in our best interests to do this even if it seems like too much gubbernment intrusion to some.

I know one wind instrument maker who is even a KKK member and Tea Partier who I am sure didn't bother to get his CITES permits... Not someone that I really want to interact with after I found out about him. Just like all of the Sporting Goods Stores and the NRA right now!

I did ask about antique and even mildly vintage instruments with Ivory, either Elephant, Fossil Mammoth or Mastodon, Walrus or Cetacean, including instruments that are certainly antique and pre CITES I (the more restricted) and in the case of eBay sales. Its still possible to get these provided one obtains the necessary import and export permits - in the short term. In the long term they want to cease all International trade in modern (including antique) ivory. I am fully in support of this given that ivory can be easily antiqued by burying modern ivory in an acidic bog for only a few months, or use other techniques to age it.

I asked about whether or not they knew how to distinguish modern Elephant ivories from Mastodon or Mammoth. They didn't - and I informed them about the angles on the ring structure. But this depends how the tusk is cut and whether the rings are obvious. Also most inspection points such as the borders or the large mail import centers will have inspectors who will never know the difference. Thus to lean into the Devil's Advocate side they wish to ban all commerce in this substance regardless of the age. This will probably be done by rule making and could happen soon - this year even hopefully. Its a big topic right now apparently.

Bone is even harder to tell the origin of thus it is best avoided. Stick to plastic resin ivories! I'll be including some samples of the GPS materials. I could use samples of the others though, if other makers have any to spare.

A final issue: I have 6 of the single use permits that cost $5 and these expire on 5 days. I needed 7 flutes inspected and these are going to Asutria, germany, Australia, Japan, Colombia and 2 to Chilé where they have an active Celtic Music scene including a big Galician Gaita scene. I would love to see this! We decided that it would be best to use some of the newly issued individual use permits than risk some monkey business on the receiving end with permits that expired in transit. So I am out $30. But that is much better than having an instrument with $450 confiscated. Insurance wouldn't cover this and I doubt if I would get it returned to me. I would be hesitant to use any permit that would expire in a month or less while in transit.

Finally add Columbia to the list of countries where the client must obtain an import permit as well, and Chilé toi the countries where they don't. Michael Grinter informs me that Australia requires this and my client is going to check to make sure. However, I got it in writing from the Australian Government that an import permit wasn't required. Michael might be misinformed or not. We had a lovely online conversation which we want to continue soon. His flutes - the few that I have seen - all play really well to me and look sharp.

Casey

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:52 am 
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Casey Burns wrote:
Further to that mission he would like to build up a wood sample library for the Seattle office and maybe some of the other busy ones. So I'll be bringing him samples of all the woods that I use, CITES classified or not, including samples of Ebonies that he can contrast with African Blackwood. They are dramatically different on the microscopic scales. There were about 12 boom microscopes of different types in the inspection lab where I took out all of my flutes. I am going to inquire to see if they have any that are "Government Surplus".

One wood that I don't have samples of is Cocus. I think I gave the last of what I had to Peter Noy. I have Blackwood, Boxwood, Ebony, Mopane. I might still have a little bit of Honduran Rosewood but no Cocobolo, Kingwood, and other frequently used Rosewoods. I am putting out a request for other makers to send me samples of wood that you use so their reference collection is complete, and they don't confiscate something that isn't CITES listed. It is in our best interests to do this even if it seems like too much gubbernment intrusion to some.


Casey, would you be able to give us some insight into what actually happens when a wooden flute without papers is received by customs? Maybe some kind of walk-through of what you know of the process? (I assume a flute with papers is a pretty simple process since the shipper is declaring what the wood is.) I could make some guesses as to what the process looks like based on what you've shared already, but I am curious if you know more detail of the actual verification and inspection of the wood when a shipper has not sent papers to identify it.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:34 am 
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I don't have a clue and don't really want to know this!
I imagine its the same kind of thing when they confiscate your toothpaste, etc. at the security checkpoints at the airport. At least we can keep our shoes on.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 11:45 am 
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Casey Burns wrote:
I don't have a clue and don't really want to know this!
I imagine its the same kind of thing when they confiscate your toothpaste, etc. at the security checkpoints at the airport. At least we can keep our shoes on.


Fair enough. :)


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:00 pm 
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This is a great idea. But I would think the different offices would be able to exchange digital micrographs of the various species. It only runs around $400 to put a USB camera onto the tube of a microscope, and I would think that would be a helluvalot cheaper and more efficient than having every inspection site needing its own examples of different species.

Do you know how much they need and/or what form they like? I have several species, both rosewoods and non, that might be of use, but can't spare much, and the pieces might already be turned and/or bored.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:27 am 
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Sorry for the ignorant question here - but what, if anything, is the effect of this for me travelling with my own wooden flute? I live in Australia now and plan to fly to the USA in June or July, and then back to Australia. Am I likely to run into any trouble?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:29 am 
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There is nothing better than having an actual hand sample or samples. They already have access to digital images, have cameras for microscopes etcetera and there are variations in how such things are prepared etc. in the resulting digital images.

They want the real thing. I am the same way when I work with specimens - be it the instruments I study or the paleontology that I enjoy.

Small samples of Rosewoods. Am heading to my wood supplier in Portland on Monday and am going to see if I can get a good sampler selection from his junk wood bins.

As for the question of international travel, as long as it isn't a CITES I item (Brazilian Rosewood, or containing Ivory) a person is allowed to travel across an international border if they declare it as a private possession and one is allowed to carry up to 20 pounds of such items.

However, if I was heading to say the Vancouver Folk Festival with a bunch of flutes to sell, even under 20 lbs total, I would have to have a permit for this. Similarly, if one is mailing a flute internationally they assume it is commerce and so permits are required.

I did take a bunch of flutes across for this purpose once back in the 1980s long before CITES and there were some other hassles: I needed a work visa (something they told me I didn't need when I contacted the authorities months earlier) and then when that was sorted out after a 5AM call to the festival organizer (He was not amused....) I had to pay an import duty of 9.7% on all of the inventory, using up all the money for food and bus fare home for myself and my helper. Nothing sold thanks to a deep recession up there which included the busses being on strike (we had brought touring bikes for commuting). She ended up traveling back with a rather narcissistic violin player and I ended up bicycling to my next gig in Portland for a music festival the following weekend when I at least made my bus fare home. Oh and on the way out of the country, I found out that I could get a refund for the duty since nothing sold but it took over a year for the Canadian Government to send it to me!

Casey

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Ergonomic Flutes for Small Hands since 1986
http://www.caseyburnsflutes.com
http://www.folkflutes.com


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