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The demand for ivory never wavered and after the elephant ivory was banned, mammoth ivory came into prominence. Alaska has been the center for harvesting genuine mammoth ivory and carving various ivory artifacts for centuries. Along with mammoth tusks, the place is teeming with walrus and whale teeth and bones, sought after by artists’ and scrimshaw collectors. Huge mammoth tusks in pristine condition are bought at extremely high prices by traders and private collections.
The reason that mammoths’ carcass and tusks have survived intact is due to intense cold of the tundra climate and eons under the permafrost. And that is why it is limited resource because due to constant harvesting and excavations, only a few thousand carcasses of woolly mammoths remain today. From fossil hunters, sculptors, bead makers and scrimshaw artists always requiring high quality ivory, prices remain high. Though in US, Alaska has the highest density of mammoth tusks, any tusks found on private property is equally legal and can be sold by the owners. The demand for mammoth tusk ivory is not just as huge tusks but delicate figures, sculptures, jewelry and curios all over the world.
The main reason elephant ivory was banned was due to the slaughtering of elephants for their tusks but as wooly mammoths is already extinct; this ivory is completely legal and can be traded worldwide. However not all sculptors can work on mammoth tusk ivory but only specialized Chinese and Japanese artists with years of experience working on ivory can work on these delicate yet priceless carvings. Even if the tusk is broken when excavated, there is huge demand for it. Smaller pieces are used to carve statues, and even tiny pieces are used to make pieces of carved jewelry. Basically none of the excavated mammoth tusk goes waste, as even the small chips, pieces and fragments are used for inlay, knife handles and jewelry.
However, the most expensive are complete ivory tusks which are sold raw in the natural state or carved completely. As most of the tusks have been buried for ages under the tundra permafrost, it has absorbed minerals from the soil and many of the unearthed tusks have hues of colors ranging from green to brown to grey on the husk. The artists carve into the ivory bringing out layers of milky white ivory as they carve daily life, scenes and mythological figures. Check out a range of unique and completely legal mammoth ivory carvings at http://www.mammothivory.info
The most prevalent ivory was African ivory which was used extensively during the 1400s to 1900s in Europe and Asia. It was only after 1989 that mammoth ivory completely replaced the demand for elephant ivory. Some of the key aspects of African tusk ivory are that it is not white but creamy in color and is amazing to work with. In most cases, it was procured fresh and thus the gelatinous substance from the pores gave it high flexibility as compared to hard and drier mammoth tusk ivory.
Additionally the fine crosshatching and grain structure gave it flexibility to be cut from any angle yet maintain strength and resistance to splinting. The natural oils gave it a peculiar mellow shine and rich luster as in any ivory. It is advised that once a year, all ivory sculptures that you have should be rubbed with oil.
Most of the African tusks of ivory are over 10 feet in length and the weight can exceed 200 pounds. However, there are inherent pulp cavities in the upper regions of the tusk, which creates a natural hollow. This requires exceptional skill of the artist to shallow carve bringing our translucent appeal. Cutting the area for maximizing the use of ivory was a delicate task especially when the core is hollow.
Generally, the tusks are 8 inch in diameter with solid ends that taper while the middle areas are round, which is used for carving. Intricate sculptures and carvings were done such that the patterns conformed to the shape of the ivory tusk. Even today, mammoth tusk ivory intricate carvings are designed such that they are done on the middle part of the ivory tusk.
The master artists used the hollowed out portion of the tusk to carve cups and tankards. Sometimes, they were sliced to form thin sheets of ivory, coveted by artists to watercolor miniature portraits. Additionally, the artists painstakingly shaved off parts of the designed compositions to give it thinness which led to heightened translucence.
Painting on ivory after sculpting it has been in vogue. The artists first etch and carve the desired patterns and then hand paint the details, giving it a realistic look. Exemplary art and artistry of the artists is visible in the delicate patterns and motifs that can be seen. The figures have hand-painted hair, tiny painted motifs and traditional patterns on the apparel. Ivory can be sculpted intricately adding manifold ways of translucency for better effects of the carving.
The mammoth ivory is sourced from the skeletal remains of the ancient wooly mammoths. The wooly mammoths perished during the last ice age are dated from 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. The precious tusks that are the only source of legal ivory worldwide grew to a length of 10 feet to 15 feet. But this was the permanent tusks which the mammoths grew after the age of 1 year. Archeologists have excavated baby mammoths with milk tusks which were shed at the age of one year.
Mammoth tusks consist of dentine and Cementum with a thin covering of enamel. The bonelike substance, Cementum supports the tooth while the dentine is found just below the tooth enamel and is the main tissue of the tusk. The length of the tusk is not the key consideration about the age of the mammoths, as they broke during fights and while digging. But all tusks have growth rings as they grow from the tusk base and add dentine over time into the hollow tusk. The dark bands in the growth rings were made during the winters and the lighter bands were added in the summer months. Today the mammoth tusks are a precious commodity and sought after legal ivory world over.
Not only has it fulfilled the demand for elephant ivory but most of the elephant conservationists hope that legal ivory will eventually en the illegal trade in elephant ivory and allow elephants a chance to flourish. While Arctic regions including Russia and Siberia have deposits of mammoth ivory which are being constantly exhausted, which makes mammoth ivory a limited resource today. This is the reason for the high price of complete mammoth ivory tusks.
After the mammoth tusks are excavated and preserved for transportation to mainland China for expert ivory sculptors to carve exquisite art and artifacts. Sculpted complete tusks command the highest prices while smaller carved pieces of mammoth tusks are comparatively affordable.
If you have been looking for a reputed and reliable source of raw mammoth tusks or unique design carved mammoth tusks, browse our large collection of exclusive sculptures. With years in the legal ivory industry, all ivory mammoth tusks are legal for sale, purchase and worldwide shipping.
Planning on collecting and investing in Japanese netsuke? It is a specialized art and collectors pay top dollars for rare and antique netsuke. Though you might like a netsuke but is it worth the price? How do you determine which is the right one for your collection? We understand that there are various aspects of buying authentic antique netsuke, but the top considerations include:
Artist’s skill levels: The price of the mammoth ivory netsuke depends upon the skill of the artist. From crude sculptures in ivory and wood to high quality detailed artwork, all levels of talent can be seen. Seasoned collectors can recognize the locale where the netsuke was produced and check for authentic signatures. However, it takes years to be able to judge and evaluate netsuke, but you can always consult a professional collector to assist you with the evaluations.
Authenticity: To know if the netsuke is authentic or not, is difficult as signatures can be forged easily. Only a netsuke expert is able to accurately match and identify the marks, signature, style and age of the netsuke along with the artistry strokes of different artists. Consult an expert if you intend investing in antique netsuke.
Condition and state of netsuke: Although antique netsuke will show wear but it should not be so much that the value of the netsuke tumbles. Original and used antique netsuke might be chipped, tiny repairs, cracked and restored but it should be negligible. The price will depend upon the condition and rarity of the item.
Rarity of the netsuke subject: If the subject is rare, such as Baku, (mythical animal that eats nightmares/bad dreams) or rare animals, it can be priced higher. As netsuke collectors specialize in particular subjects- mythical animals, legends and even daily activities, some netsuke are more in demand than others. Prices vary accordingly.
Additionally, there are specific areas and schools of netsuke production such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and more which have their own styles. Seasoned netsuke collectors are able to differentiate between the different styles. Some of the well-known netsuke artists are Kokusai, Toyomasa, Okatomo, Kaigyokusai and Tomotada that command top dollars for their carvings.
Only the most famous netsuke artist’s signature commands a high price. The key consideration in price is the rarity, originality, quality of hand carving and the artistic appeal of the netsuke. Generally high quality netsuke, both old and new range from few hundred dollars to few thousands of dollars, depending on these considerations.
Sourced from the isolated regions in Serbia and Arctic during the short summer months, fossil ivory hunters face cold icy winds and waters, looking for the uncovered tusks that poke out from the melting permafrost. Over 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, wooly mammoths roamed the earth but perished at the end of the last Ice age. Although it is rare to excavate a fossilized mammoth, the ivory tusks fetch exorbitant prices, all over the world.
Numerous male mammoth ivory tusks have been found to be over 14 feet in length and are longer than the female tusks that have been excavated. After the ban on elephant ivory, mammoth ivory tusks have been in global demand. The fossil ivory is harvested from the permafrost where it has been buried for eons and later segregated and categorized for sale.
Though the different grades of ivory are unearthed, not all of the ivory is suitable for sculptures and carvings. The top category A has the best ivory which includes complete tusks, high quality well-preserved ivory. The tusks length and weight might vary and it is not cut for artists. At the end of the spectrum is Bark ivory which does not have all layers of inner ivory, lacking the basic material for tusk carvings.
Most of the ivory has a bluish or brownish discoloration due to lying buried in mineral rich soil for thousands of years. Artists looking for ivory and sheets of ivory can source them from different dealers. The prices of ivory vary depending upon the color and size, so a large piece of tusk with milky white ivory would command a higher price than the small, brownish tinged ivory. Sculptors require solid ivory with no or little discoloration and these sculptures sell for a higher price range. Small pieces, broken tusks and cards of ivory are usually cheaper as raw material and are used for inlay, handles of decorative swords, knife and even pistols. It is used to craft beads, necklaces and jewelry. The artists and traders try their best to ensure no piece of fossil ivory is wasted as it is a limited and precious commodity today.
But artists that paint on ivory require wafer-thin sheets, cut from blocks of ivory. Depending upon the artist’s requirements, long, narrow sheets and circular discs cut as fine sheets are used to paint on ivory. Storage of ivory is another keys aspect of maintaining it. It needs optimum temperature and moisture else it starts to crack and turn brittle. See some of the best carvings and hand painted ivory at http://www.mammothivory.info
You have seen innumerable delicate figurines of ivory which is sourced from the extinct mammoth tusks, but do you know how the artists carve it? Learn more about working with mammoth ivory. Traditionally, artists only carved the inner core of the tusk but more artists today start with the outer layer of tusk to conserve the ivory. The next step is to measure and cut the ivory tusk as per the requirement.
The artists start with making primary cuts with the band-saw or a cross cut wood saw. Finer cuts are made with the jeweler’s saw. But artists that work on ivory without the use of machines, use hand tools produce exceptional carvings. When smaller pieces of ivory are carved, the ends are filed to smoothen it out flat so that the artist can hold the piece in the vice. The large or full tusks are gripped and held tight by the carver’s feet. A rough drawing is created in pencil over the ivory surface. Then the artist uses a chisel to etch a rough outline by gorging out a delicate outline with woodwork tools. They take care not to crack or break the ivory. As mammoth ivory is hard, it is essential to use quality blades but the artists ensure that too much pressure is not applied as antique ivory is brittle due to the lower amount of moisture in it.
The next stage is when the master artists take over and start with the fine carving. A careful study is made of the drawing and rough outline. Using an awl, chisel, file, burin and hand drill. Some of the expert carvers are able to remove the cracks and blemishes using some of the carver’s tricks leaving no traces. The artists who use traditional methods use culm sheath of the bamboo which is soaked in water to give the mammoth ivory the pristine finish. Then the pieces are wiped clean with a soft cotton cloth.
Other who tend to use more modern tools, prefer using tiny electric dental chisels, carvers carve the ivory just like it is done in woodworking. There are some ivory carvers that use fine steel wool after sanding to give it a matt finish but others prefer using jeweler rouges which are put over the ivory using a cloth wheel over a bench grinder for that perfect gloss finish. Most of then only use a white cloth wheel and white rouge otherwise the color tends to be transferred over the sculpture. If you are looking to see some exquisite mammoth ivory carvings, check out http://www.mammothivory.info
Even though the elephant ivory trade was completely banned in 1989 due to the drastic decline of the elephants all over the world, the demand for ivory art remained. Today the collectors and patrons of ivory have their fill of the artistic delights, with the prized antique mammoth tusk ivory.
The extinct wooly mammoths perished completely at the end of the ice age nearly 10,000- 12,000 years ago, but the rich fossils have yielded huge ivory tusks that are completely legal for sale, as the animal is extinct. The connotation of uber-affluence and classic aristocracy remains with ivory and refuses to end the allure of the limited, yet prized material.
Difference in elephant ivory and fossil ivory
The most unique aspect about mammoth ivory is that it is extremely similar in color and textures to elephant ivory yet their remains a major difference. Ivory is enamel and both the ivories carry an inherent pattern which is easily recognized, if you have details. Mammoth ivory has criss-cross V-shaped fine patterns while elephant ivory has more concentric circle patterns. This is visible to naked eye or you can use a hand-lends to notice the patterns which are visible on the bottom or on areas with no carving.
Though mammoth ivory has been used for centuries by the native Eskimos in the arctic regions, it came into focus worldwide as fossil ivory after the ban on elephant ivory. Though in the rarest of rare finds, male tusks have grown to 16 feet but most of the pieces and complete tusks, range in length from 5 ft to 8 ft, though longer tusks have been excavated. This leaves quite a lot of material to work with. Complete tusks have been intricately carved, becoming impressive art pieces commanding prices in several thousands of dollars. It is the rarity and limited supply of fossil ivory combined with exquisite carvings and sculpture that makes it so prized and unique.
Hues and colors of ivory
Another unique aspect of mammoth ivory that differentiates it from elephant ivory is the color scales found in fossil ivory. Due to being buried under the permafrost for eons, the organic enamel in the mammoth tusks absorbed the surrounding soil minerals, giving the milky white ivory hues of blues and browns. Apart from carved pieces of ivory, raw ivory is also available for sale, mounted on wooden stands or just as pieces.
If you are looking for an exquisite piece of one –off ivory carvings, there is a strong possibility that you might find something in your budget, from netsuke to full-tusks, select the piece that suits your requirement at http://www.mammothivory.info
Being a collector and ardent patron of ivory products, it is wonderful to see artists creating amazing sculptures and netsuke out of varied pieces of antique mammoth tusk ivory. It is like holding a real piece of history, blending in the artistic creativity with expertise, creating unique artifacts, to pass on as heirlooms.
Talking about the creativity, here is an amazing sculpture, crafted on a near-complete mammoth tusk, sourced directly from the tundra regions of Arctic. It is rare to come across tusks with such length due to the intense pressure exerted for centuries on the tusks, it leads to breaks and cracks. Additionally, the extreme harsh weather and cold, tends to dry out the moisture in the enamel, leaving it brittle. However, such finds truly become more valuable as it is rare, apart from the limited availability of mammoth ivory.
Looking at this particular carved tusk, the intricate detailing can take your breath away. Hours of painstaking workmanship is clearly visible. The tiny wild animals and floral background depicts the rich natural resources. The raw edges and exterior of the tusk has been left in the natural state, proving the tusk to be genuine, legal mammoth ivory.
The price of the carved tusk depends upon the total length and weight of the ivory apart from the delicate workmanship. As not all artists can do justice to mammoth ivory, only a specialized few artists can work on them. The skill of carving perfect figurines in such miniscule scale adds to the value of the carved tusk.