There are many collectors and common people who appreciate ivory objects from around the world. The term ‘Ivory’ has always signified images of some beautiful objects related to fine craftsmanship, luxury, style, exclusivity and value. Most people do not realize, but the human race’s connection with ivory objects is ancient.
During the Pleistocene era, the Cro-Magnons used ivory for carving. This was around 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. Around 2,000 B.C, ivory objects were also used by the Egyptians. Between the 12th – 14th centuries, ivory was used by the Europeans.
The Beauty of Ivory
Although ivory is often associated with standard elephant tusks, it is also derived from the teeth and tusks of many other animals, such as wild boar, hippopotamus, hornbill, warthog, sperm whale, walrus and narwhal.
In animals, ivory is the dentine equivalent of human teeth. Dentine is the calcified tissue just beneath the tooth enamel. In all the above mentioned animals, the dentine mass in large tusks and teeth is significantly more than what humans have.
Ivory is a carving material that is very hard. However, it is still lighter than stone or metal. Millions of people appreciate ivory objects from around the world. Throughout the history of human race, men have made sincere efforts to acquire ivory objects, either by decimating elephant populations or excavating mammoths.
In most cases, ivory is traded as religious or decorative objects, name seals and musical instruments. Tusk and tooth ivory offers excellent versatility for carving. Tusks can easily be retained in original shape. They can also be carved superficially. Ivory is often used in many different kinds of inlay work, carved boxes, figurines, and jewelry and serviette holders.
The list of ivory objects is endless. In 1920s, plastics arrived in the manufacturing industry. Moreover, there was increased awareness about cruelty toward animals associated with ivory harvesting. Currently, ivory objects are considered some of the best collectibles. It is worth mentioning that there are also some opportunists selling fakes.
How Can You Identify Authentic Ivory?
A cross section of elephant or mammoth ivory distinctly reveals cross hatched patterns. These patterns are called Schreger lines. However, even these patterns can be faked on plastic. The technique used to fake these patterns is called scrimshawing.
The best way to ensure the authenticity of the object is to heat a small pin, and poke the ivory object. In case you have genuine ivory, the pin leaves a tiny mark, and whiff of a burnt tooth. On the other hand, plastic gives off an acrid smell. You will also be able to notice a hole.
Different types of ivory objects have different characteristics. It is possible to identify a particular object’s authenticity, but if you are dealing with multiple ivory objects, you should get them certified from a laboratory.
These days, some collectors even purchase ivory objects online. Most sellers give certificates of authenticity to give you some peace of mind. Before you buy an object, you should conduct an extensive research, and purchase from only a reputed dealer. This will help you invest in something authentic.