John Grant asks about shipping instruments internationally, in 170106
MMDigest. While I have not done this operation personally (unlike
Philip Jamison), I have in past years traveled numerous times across
the USA-Canada border, for pleasure, study and business.
My observations are that the whole border security and customs apparatus
is Byzantine in scope and complexity, and that you had better know what
you are doing if you want to try attempt such an endeavor in the
The CITES regulations now in effect are quite strict and onerous, and
failure to conform to the regulations may result in something rather
unpleasant happening to the family heirloom (on top of the usual
The presence of ivory keytops and (potentially) rare (now restricted)
wood veneers complicate the situation as they are subject to CITES.
There are supposed to be exceptions, and the more documentation that
can be provided to prove provenance, the better. But, as that great
baseball philosopher Yogi Berra said, "In theory there is no
difference between theory and practice. In practice there is!"
As to the idea of transporting keys separately in a diplomatic pouch,
it has the makings of a John le Carré novel. I would think that the
owner would have to be quite well connected indeed, to have a diplomat
agree to such a scheme. If one were to call the embassy and ask them,
I would be most interested in hearing their response!
On a more serious note, the point is that for a high-stakes operation
such as this, for the uninitiated the use of professionals is advised.
I once met a harpsichord person who had some experience with
international keyboard moving, in a consulting role. Her name is Anne
Acker; I don't really know her personally, but she may be able to offer
some advice: http://annesharpsichords.com/
I wish you good luck!