Is It Okay to Sell This Stuff on eBay?

Animal Pelts, Skins, and Furs

Q: "I have a leather and fur vest that I bought at a high-end designer boutique in New York City last fall. The tag says that it's Lippi fur (sometimes spelled 'Lipi,' also known as the Chinese leopard cat). From what I've researched about it, it's not an endangered species, or illegal, which I originally assumed anyway because it's widely used in the fashion industry, and the brand is well known. I want to sell it on eBay, but there's an eBay policy that states 'No sales of any item that contains cat or dog fur will be allowed.' Why is that, and will this policy prevent me from selling the vest on eBay?"

A: The first step is to check with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (www to find out if the particular animal species appears on an Endangered Species List. If it does, you can't sell items with that animal's fur on eBay. Period.

Animal pelts and skins from nonendangered species may generally be listed on eBay if not in violation of the seller's specific state laws. For example, sales of bearskin rugs are prohibited by California law because the bear is California's state animal. However, because it is prohibited by federal law, no sales of any item that contains cat or dog fur are allowed.

While it's okay to sell items made of Lippi fur, it is prudent not to use the words cat or dog in your eBay listing for the item. Because eBay's search engines aren't always the most sophisticated, your listing may be pulled if they determine (however incorrectly) that you have stuffed Fluffy and put her up for sale to pay the vet's bills.

Antiquities, Historical Artifacts, and Native American Items

Q: "On a recent field trip to a Civil War battlefield with my kids, I found an old musket ball. Can I sell this on eBay?"

A: Generally, historical artifacts may be sold on eBay, but not if they are illegally taken from a public park or historical site owned by the federal or state government. If the battlefield you visited was a public park (and it sounds like it was), you cannot sell this item on eBay. You should report your find to the organization or entity that runs the battlefield park, as you probably are in violation of state laws regulating archaeological finds on public property. For more information about eBay's artifacts policy, go to artifacts.html.

Q: "I have an old Native American ceramic jug that was handed down to me by my grandfather, who lived in the southwestern United States. I would like to sell this item on eBay but am concerned that it may have been illegally looted from a Native American grave site. My grandfather died long ago, so I can't ask him how he came across this object. Is there any reliable way to find out if this item is legal?"

A: Yes. The National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, D.C. (www operates a repatriation office where you can send objects such as this to be evaluated. To find this, click on the Outreach tab on the museum's home page, then click on Repatriation.

When you submit an item to the museum for evaluation, they will consult with the tribal authorities in the area where your grandfather lived in an effort to determine if it was an item normally buried with deceased tribal members or is otherwise of significant historical importance. Be advised that if the museum's repatriation office determines that the item was "grave goods," the item will probably be seized, as federal statutes give Native American tribes broad authority to reclaim items illegally looted from tribal lands. If, however, they conclude that the item is of no particular historical value and does not constitute grave goods, they will send you a certificate to that effect, which is a wonderful thing to include in your listing description!

A lot of people groan when I talk about repatriation in my eBay seminars and workshops, but keep this in mind: Grave robbing is illegal in virtually all countries on earth. How would you feel if someone on eBay was auctioning a pocket watch engraved as a gift to your grandfather, when you know the item was buried with him decades ago? There are much better, legal ways to source your product when you sell on eBay.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >