OK, my curiousity got going. Here's what I learned this morning. The species in question is Mustela siberica. It has two common common names; the Kolinksy, and the Siberian Weasel. The finest brushes are made from the hairs of from the tip of the tail of a male in winter coat! Now we know why Winsor Newton brushes are so expensive!Why all the kerfuffle? It's an issue related to paperwork that tracks place of origin. The US doesn't like the paperwork that the Europeans use (go figure!). Here is the text from a Dick Blick FB post."The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has begun requiring specific certification of certain products and is closely regulating the distribution, importation, and exportation of natural hair brushes that may have been made from endangered species. According to the National Art Materials Trade Association (NAMTA) “Trade in kolinsky hair is managed by the provisions set out in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Kolinsky hair comes from the species called mustela siberica. It is important to know that this is NOT AN ENDANGERED SPECIES, but because of a seldom used provision in CITES, trade in kolinsky hair requires CITES documentation.”
One of these requirements is documentation of the country of origin of the hair being used in the brush. Many of the major brush brands are manufactured in Europe, which follows different regulations and necessary documentation. While these companies and the European CITES are claiming that their version is comparative and valid, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has started refusing to allow brushes which do not come with the forms they consider to be valid from entering or leaving the United States.
Art material retailers, brush manufacturers, and art material vendors, with the help of NAMTA are working to come to an agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Services and CITES to help ensure that the necessary information and documentation can be made provided to them so that natural hair brushes can again become easily available to the artists who rely on them."
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