Friday, March 4, 2011

Did you Know Cincinnati has a stain glass window law? Nobody else does!

Did you know that local antique dealers, auctioneers, junk dealers and second hand dealers are required to make a daily report to the chief of police of all stained or beveled glass brought or acquired by such person during the day for sale? The report on a form approved by the police division shall contain a full and complete description of such stained or beveled glass including all marks of identification, colors, materials,size, name and approximate date if known of each it, the date of purchase or acquisition of the item and the name,address, birth date, social security number and physical description (sex/race/height/weight/complexion) of the person from whom such item was acquired. The antiques dealer, auctioneer, junk dealer or second hand dealer shall further obtain written proof of identification and the signature of the seller on the required form. A copy of these forms shall be retained for one year. Upon the demand of the chief of police or police officer deputed by the chief of police, the antique dealer, auctioneer, junk dealer or second hand dealer shall produce and show any reported item in such persons possession. 875.3 Report of acquisition of stained or beveled glass.

Section 875.5 Says: No antique dealer , auctioneer, junk dealer or second hand dealer shall change, alter, sell or voluntarily release possession of any stained glass acquired or held by such person until the expiration of 168 Hours after the delivery to the chief of police of a copy of the report as required by section 875.3 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code, except by  the permission of the police department.

The fine? A ridiculous 300 dollars.

This ordinance was enacted back in 1979 by the council in response to the theft of stained glass from several churches. However this ordinance has not been updated in years and few if any dealers or second hand stores know about it as I found out when I contacted several of them.

It is, like many ordinances , not enforced. It is also terribly out of date. Stained glass theft is multi million dollar issue in this country. The ordinance does not provide for internet sales and the fine is too low. Unlike other cities it does not include historic mantles, staircases, chandeliers or wrought iron fences. Fines in other cities are in the thousands of dollars and include jail time. not the 'slap on the writs' of our ordinance.

The time has come for this ordinance to be revised, with stricter penalties and expanded to include other salvage items. Our architectural history is important and we need to preserve it.

The one thing no ordinance will protect is historic details when you sell your house. because historic home are so cheap here many salvage dealers buy the house, strip the interior, demo the house and even salvage floors , joists and brick for resale. However you can protect your restoration for future generations by attaching a historic preservation covenant to the deed. A properly constructed preservation covenant will prevent your home from apartment conversion, and removal of attached historic details.

Neighborhood groups need to be vigilant when houses go vacant as well and should take pictures of important architectural details so if they turn up missing the police will have record. Theft is theft,burglary is burglary even if a house is in foreclosure. European countries have enacted  preservation of antiquities acts that provide stiffest of penalties. Cincinnati could be a leader here in the states, THAT IS, if our council actually cared about historic property.

1 comment:

Jeffrey Jakucyk said...

Huh, I've never heard of such a thing. It seems like the sort of thing that should apply to most any salvage items. With copper getting expensive again, that's a big problem for theft and salvage. Any sort of Rookwood tile should probably be included in that kind of protection as well.

Interesting that Cincinnati's thing would be stained glass. I wouldn't be surprised if Savannah had something relating to wrought iron fences. St. Louis seems to have a lot of trouble with brick thieves, though I've never heard of that being a problem around here. I guess our super soft orange common brick isn't worth much compared to what they have in St. Louis, or the gorgeous buff brick in Chicago.