Author Topic: stalactites for sale  (Read 18323 times)

MSD

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stalactites for sale
« on: June 18, 2005, 09:43:58 pm »
I just checked on e-bay. Searching for items for sale under the word "stalactite" brings up 62 items. The vast majority of these are indeed actual (or part) stalactites. In some case the provenance is actually stated as being a particular cave.

What work is going on at the national/international level to control and restrict this kind of trade? What laws currently apply? If I nip down to OFD and pinch the columns, that would clearly be illegal (since OFD is protected by law). But if I chopped them up and sold them off in bits, would the people who (possibly unknowingly) bought them be commiting any kind of crime?

Should we be more worried about this kind of thing? How much damage to caves is actually caused by this kind of commercial exploitation (compared to the damage caused by cavers)?

Offline SamT

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« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2005, 04:51:57 pm »
There has been some talk about this before on UKc - http://ukcaving.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=438&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=stal+ebay&start=0

Looks like the best result is to email the seller and politly piont out that what they are doing is not necessarily a good thing.

Offline gus horsley

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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2006, 09:13:11 am »
There's a bit of a dilemma here.  There are people who would hold up their hands in horror at the thought of stalactites for sale, including myself, but there isn't the same sort of ethical consideration regarding extracting mineral specimens from mines.  Until these grey areas get sorted out there will always be those who feel that vandalising both caves and mines can be justified for profit.

Gus

Offline Cap'n Chris

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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2006, 10:34:12 am »
... are you sure there's an analogy for these grey areas? - removing pretties from caves for financial gain and mining for necessity are not similar; this would be like stating that picking rare and protected plant species is the same as buying/selling tulips which are farmed for that purpose. Mines are an industrial byproduct of man's primary requirement for resources. Removing and/or selling stal is an activity which serves no greater purpose outside of academic research.

I don't see that there's any ethical consideration behind the use of aggregates for road surfacing. But maybe I'm missing something.
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Offline Peter Burgess

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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2006, 10:54:54 am »
Exposures of in situ minerals in mines are just as natural as calcite growths in caves, expect that man has dug a mine to expose them. There are numerous protected sites around the UK called RIGS which I think means Regionally Important Geological Sites, many of which are artificial exposures of geologically important features. The English Nature website might have information about these. There are probably similar SSSIs. The minerals in a mine are usually (but not always) the reason why the mine was dug in the first place. Damage to good mineral exposures is removing part of the story of the site. I would only condone removal of minerals from piles of mine waste, and there are probably some who would frown at this too.
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Offline gus horsley

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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2006, 12:15:31 pm »
Quote from: "Peter Burgess"
Exposures of in situ minerals in mines are just as natural as calcite growths in caves, expect that man has dug a mine to expose them. There are numerous protected sites around the UK called RIGS which I think means Regionally Important Geological Sites, many of which are artificial exposures of geologically important features. The English Nature website might have information about these. There are probably similar SSSIs. The minerals in a mine are usually (but not always) the reason why the mine was dug in the first place. Damage to good mineral exposures is removing part of the story of the site. I would only condone removal of minerals from piles of mine waste, and there are probably some who would frown at this too.


Exactly the point I was trying to make.  In fact there a number of surface dumps down here in Cornwall which are protected from collectors.  It didn't stop an SSSI being turned over by a mechanical excavator to get to rare minerals though...

Gus

Offline AndyF

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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2006, 01:15:35 pm »
This activity has been going on for hundreds of years, starting on the 1700's. Fossils were collected from the South coast in the 19th century  and ended up in the British Museum.

Huge number of archeological finds were robbed from their countries by the Europeans throughout history, similar sort of problem.

There isn't really a practical way to stop it. Laws on this would never be enforced as people are more worried about ivory poaching and rare species.

It might be worth hassling e-bay though, they do take notice when people object to certain products, at least the route-to-market can be throttled a little bit...
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Offline gus horsley

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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2006, 02:54:48 pm »
Since it's illegal to take stalactites from caves in this country, if anyone purchases them, would they be liable for prosecution because they'd be in receipt of stolen property?  Or would that only apply to stals taken from British caves?

Gus

Offline AndyF

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« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2006, 03:22:20 pm »
Quote from: "gus horsley"
Since it's illegal to take stalactites from caves in this country, if anyone purchases them, would they be liable for prosecution because they'd be in receipt of stolen property?  Or would that only apply to stals taken from British caves?

Gus


Under what law is it illegal in this country..?? I've never heard of that.
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Offline gus horsley

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« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2006, 03:43:28 pm »
I'm sure it was at one time.  Maybe it applied to certain caves within SSSIs for example.  And I'm sure that people have been prosecuted for it.  Perhaps the law has changed over the past 20 years or so.  In which case can someone clarify it for me?

Gus

Offline AndyF

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« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2006, 04:58:40 pm »
I think SSSI's are protected, but (IIRC) "RIGS" do not have any actual legal standing at present.
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2006, 05:02:31 pm »
Unfortunately stalactites (and caves in general) are NOT protected by specific legislation; however, some caves are designated SSSIs, SACs etc.. and the formations within MAY have protection against damage as a result of such a designation. However, in practice proving that a particular bit of stalactite has come from a particular cave is going to be pretty much impossible so anyone selling stal (on EBay or wherever) is going to be safe from prosecution. However, morally they probably don't have a good defence since selling stal is bound to lead to establishing whether or not there is a market for cave formations and if there is, this will generate more vandalism/removal of stal to satisfy the demand. In the past EBay and vendors have been approached by concerned cavers and have subsequently withdrawn items for sale; perhaps a similar approach for mine minerals would be worthwhile.

I would imagine that legislation affecting the fabric of the cave is going to be hard to put into force since legal definitions of what constitutes a cave and who the owner is are going to be fraught with problems. Also, even assuming that such legislation existed, it is easy to imagine that it would never be enforced, even assuming it was possible to police such sites.
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Offline gus horsley

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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2006, 08:20:28 am »
Thanks very much for the information.  It seems that protection for cave formations is flimsy, and even less so for mines.  I can't see how approaching ebay to try and boycott mineral selling would achieve much when you have long-established and "respectable" organisations in this country that actively condone the collecting of specimens from mines.  Going underground in Cornwall you can see some of the wholesale damage done to sites by collectors, but if someone sees you picking over the dumps at Botallack now, watch out!

Gus

Offline axbridgecaver

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« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2006, 07:45:41 am »
There is another cave formation for sale on E-bay - its funny how they usually state that the formation was found during quarrying. I wonder if Cap & Chris can persuade the seller to withdraw this formation just as he did the last.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Rare-CALCITE-Cave-Formed-STALACTITE-Dorset-UK_W0QQitemZ6634453703QQcategoryZ3220QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Offline Cap'n Chris

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« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2006, 08:30:41 am »
The vendor has been contacted and an appeal has been made for the item to be withdrawn from sale in order to minimise legitimising such trade in the eyes of potential fast-buck-chasing vandals.
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2006, 07:41:18 am »
Vendor did not respond to email and the item sold for £4.99. Further items have been placed for sale. Again I have emailed the vendor about each item.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Rare-CALCITE-Cave-Formed-STALACTITE-Dorset-UK_W0QQitemZ6634453703QQcategoryZ3220QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

If other people would care to write a reasoned and restrained point of view to the vendor that might help. Having already tried the "selling cave formations stokes a market which subsequently may be provided with formations removed from caves by vandals" has so far not been successful.

N.B. It is NOT illegal to sell, retrieve or own such items.
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Offline Peter Burgess

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« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2006, 10:10:11 am »
I have just contacted the vendor with the following message:

"I am not happy to see cave minerals being sold. While I fully appreciate that the provenance of items can be legitimate, such as being rescued from destruction by quarrying, the sale of the item could encourage others to collect such materials from caves where they are under no threat whatsoever, and thus causing the destruction of a wonderful and irreplaceable piece of our natural heritage."
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Offline axbridgecaver

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« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2006, 05:22:17 pm »
I don't think that the seller will take any notice as all he sells on E-bay is minerals, fossils and cave formations!!!!

Offline kay

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« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2006, 08:18:03 pm »
Quote from: "axbridgecaver"
I don't think that the seller will take any notice as all he sells on E-bay is minerals, fossils and cave formations!!!!


Do ebay themselves have any restrictions on what may be sold? If so, could they be persuaded to add cave formations to the list?
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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« Reply #19 on: June 12, 2006, 08:30:20 pm »
Kay, an approach was made to Ebay to ask whether they would consider a blanket ban on cave-related minerals but no response was forthcoming; an approach was also made to BCA to see whether they would mount a national body representation to Ebay but I haven't heard back from them about what the decision was.

Feel free to badger vendors but don't make threats!  :shock:
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Offline axbridgecaver

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Re: stalactites for sale
« Reply #20 on: June 15, 2006, 11:12:22 pm »
After making the magnificent sum of £4.99 on his last sale of formations he is at it again -


http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Rare-Cave-Formed-Double-STALACTITE-specimen-Dorset-UK_W0QQitemZ6638228139QQcategoryZ3220QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

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Re: stalactites for sale
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2006, 07:28:27 am »
Having written to this vendor three times in total now I think they've got the message from me but obviously decided to ignore it. Would someone else care to write?...
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Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: stalactites for sale
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2006, 07:37:11 am »
Maybe we should all write?
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Offline axbridgecaver

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Re: stalactites for sale
« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2006, 10:38:15 pm »
And again; it seem as though he is trying to sell one a week -

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Rare-Cave-CALCITE-CURTAIN-with-STALACTITE-Dorset-UK_W0QQitemZ130000719950QQcategoryZ3220QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Howvever he has modified his introduction -

Genuine British cave minerals are rarely offered for sale for the simple reason that cave minerals belong left in place for all to enjoy & such mineralisation is thus protected from removal. This example was collected (rescued!) from a quarry in Dorset, England which was in the process of blasting through a cave system!


Offline axbridgecaver

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Re: stalactites for sale
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2006, 08:00:25 am »
The same person has just sold two formations for £24.63. There were three bidders in this auction. Its seems that auctions of this type will only encourage people to collect and sell cave specimens. What the buyers do not realise is that when a formation is removed from its natural environment it becomes very dull and lifeless - but here I am preaching to the converted.



"Two RARE CAVE formed CALCITE stalactite specimens the longest some 14.5cm long. Both have a lovely rippled surface formed by the constant flow of water droplets.  The tip is missing on the larger of the two but at least this allows the internal structure of the stalactite to be seen! There is a slight chip to the end of the shorter one.

British stalactites are rarely offered for sale for the simple reason that cave minerals belong left in place for all to enjoy & such mineralisation is thus protected from removal. These examples were collected (rescued!) from a quarry in Dorset, England which was in the process of blasting through a cave system!"