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Material Quick Links
Prehistoric Woolly Mammoth Ivory (Mammuthus primigenius),
Mammoth Bone and Molar
Fossil Walrus Ivory
Fossil Walrus Bone and Tooth
Naturally Shed Moose Antler
Caribou Antler
Vintage Ebony Wood
Soapstone
Stellar's Sea Cow (Hydrodamalis gigas)
Turquoise
Azurite and Malachite
How to Tell the Difference

 


 

Prehistoric Woolly Mammoth Ivory (Mammuthus primigenius)

Prehistoric woolly mammoth ivory is anywhere from 10,000 to 200,000 years old, and is found in Arctic regions such as Alaska, Canada, Chukotka (or the Chuckchi Penninsula), Yakutia, Magadan and Siberia where the tusks have been preserved in the permafrost. Mammoth ivory tusk material contains unique Schreger lines (cross hatching pattern) that intersect at approximately 90 degrees or, on average, below 100 degrees at outer angles. This fossil material consists of hues of cream, tan, or chocolate brown. Rarely, mammoth ivory and teeth may have shades of blue or green, which is caused by the mineral, Vivianite that surrounded and protected the mammoth material over time.

These massive tusks are unearthed many ways; modern day gold miners dredge up mineralized remains in the course of placer mining activities, spring floods wash tusks from frozen river banks, bush pilots spot the huge tusks jutting out of the tundra, and Eskimo subsistence hunters find mammoth remains incidentally in their daily task of survival. Regardless of discovery, Ivory Jacks mammoth ivory is mined in accordance with all applicable federal and state regulations.

 


 

Fossil Woolly Mammoth Bone and Molar

Fossil mammoth bones and teeth belonged to the prehistoric woolly mammoth that roamed the Earth tens of thousands of years ago. According to some theories, these massive creatures ultimately succumbed to the drastic climate changes accompanying great ice ages, and their skeletons were naturally interred in the frozen earth. The mammoth's massive bones and molars may be unearthed a multitude of ways; modern day gold miners dredge up mineralized remains in the course of placer mining activities, fossils are unearthed during road construction, bush pilots may spot the huge bones jutting from eroding river banks while flying over the tundra, and wilderness explorers find the skeletons and teeth in the melting muskeg. Regardless of discovery, all of our Ivory Jacks fossil bones and molars are mined in accordance with all applicable federal and state regulations. The beautiful hues of tan, brown and blue are a result of thousands of years of mineralization. Exact coloration depends upon the mineral deposits in the immediate soil surrounding the fallen mammoth. Thus, when processing, each bone or molar reveals a unique character that can never be duplicated in another piece.

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Fossil Walrus Ivory (Odobenus rosmarus)

Fossil walrus ivory is found on Saint Lawrence Island, Alaska by the Yupik Eskimo people that inhabit the island. The fossil ivory tusks, teeth, oosiks, and bones have been preserved in the frozen, mineral rich soil for up to 2,500 years. Natural colors of this ivory may range from cream, tan, and brown, to very rare and rich hues of blue, black, gray, pink, green, and orange. The tusks of the Pacific walrus can weigh up to 15 pounds, and may be as long as 37 7/8” (World Record). Cross sections of these fossil tusks are oval in shape, and contain a solid exterior with marbled interior.

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Fossil Walrus Bone and Tooth

ANCIENT BONE FROM THE SEA...

Fossil walrus bones and teeth are mostly found on the Arctic coasts of Alaska and St. Lawrence Island in Eskimo villages such as Sekloaqget, Ievoghiyog, and Miyowagh. The materials are found at ancient hunting sites or obtained from natural wash-ups of skeletons and skulls on shore. Bones excavated from mounds near Gambell on St. Lawrence Island have been dated as being more than 1000 years old, and other fossil bones, teeth and tusks may be several hundred years old. Walrus bone is particularly dense as to support the massive frame of the adult walrus. Mature females weigh in at 2,000 lbs. and males weigh easily half again as much. Although regulated, walrus hunting is still permitted by Native villagers to support their subsistence lifestyle. However, the bone and teeth used in Ivory Jacks carvings and jewelry are fossil. Colors of fossil walrus bone vary greatly depending on the length of time the bone was buried and what types of soil it was buried in. The cracks which you sometimes see in the sculptures are quite natural for materials of this age and add character to each individual work of art.

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Naturally Shed Moose Antler (Alces alces gigas)

The male Alaska Moose or “Giant” Moose naturally shed their antlers every year during late autumn or winter after breeding season. These natural sheds are found by chance in the Alaskan tundra, and may consist of gray or tan, and more rarely, green, pink or purple colors depending upon where the antler lay and for what period of time the antler was exposed to the elements. Moose antler may reach up to 80” wide depending upon the health and age of the animal.

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Caribou Antler

Caribou are the only member of the deer family in which both males and females grow antlers which are shed annually. Caribou are wanderers, traveling in large herds across the Alaskan tundra. Nature has designed caribou antlers with an efficient scraper or shovel-like protrusion that allows the animal to scrape away snow and ice from the frozen ground in winter, exposing lichens and “reindeer moss” that make up their winter diet.

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Vintage Ebony Wood (Diospyros)

Vintage and reclaimed Ebony Wood is a beautiful and highly sought after exotic hardwood. Ebony is known for its natural rich black heartwood coloration, and is the darkest wood in the world, as well as one of the most valuable. Ebony wood is characterized not only by its color, but also by its hard, dense, and finely textured composition. These traits make the material ideal for use in jewelry as well as, of course, their classic use as black piano keys and black chess pieces. Ivory Jacks vintage ebony wood is approximately 35 plus years old.

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Soapstone

Soapstone is a steatite - a metamorphic rock having a talc base. Talc is used to make talcum powder. It occurs as a secondary mineral formed as a result of the alteration of olivine, pyroxene, and amphibole. It is distinguished by its ease of carving, soapy feel, and vibrant color. Because of its malleability, it has been used for carving for centuries. Egyptians carved figures and bowls of soapstone to be put into the tombs of pharaohs. Soapstone seals of Indian origin have been found in Bahrain and Ur. Paleoeskimos were mining the stone to make bowls and lamps on the Baie Verte Peninsula 1600 years ago. Soapstone is available worldwide. The color varies according to location and the proximity of mineral deposits in the area. 

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Stellar's Sea Cow (Hydrodamalis gigas)

Stellar’s sea cow was a large, herbivorous marine mammal that came to extinction in 1768. It was the largest member of the order Sirenia, which includes its closest living relative, the dugong (Dugong dugon), and the manatee (Trichechus spp.). Although the sea cow had formerly been abundant throughout the North Pacific, by 1741, when it was first described by Georg Wilhelm Steller, chief naturalist on an expedition led by explorer Vitus Bering, its range had been limited to a single, isolated population surrounding the uninhabited Commander Islands.

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Turquoise

Turquoise ranges in color from deep and pale blue, deep green, and green brown. The intensity of blue results from the level of copper in the stone, and the greener hues reveal a higher concentration of aluminum. This beautiful gemstone has been prized for thousands of years, with evidence of active mines in Egypt dated at 6,000 BC. Significant turquoise deposits are found in Arizona, New Mexico, Australia, Iran and throughout the Middle East. Folklore attributes special soothing qualities to turquoise, and the stone is said to create an atmosphere of relaxation, and relieve stress and tensions.

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Azurite and Malachite

Malachite and Azurite deposits are found deep within the earth, frequently alongside copper deposits found in the Southwestern United States, Australia, Chile, Africa and France. Azurite is a deep blue color, and Malachite ranges in shades of light to deep green. Folklore attributes special healing qualities to these gemstones, easing rheumatism and arthritis. Azurite has also been said to enhance memory and intellectual receptivity and, in ancient times, Malachite was said to be a symbol of creativity and used to reveal fears and desires.

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How to Tell the Difference

Elephant and mammoth tusk ivory comes from the two modified upper incisors of extant and extinct members of the same order (Proboscidea). African and Asian elephants are both extant. Mammoths have been extinct for 10,000 years. Because of the geographical range in Alaska and Siberia, Mammuthus primigenus tusks have been well preserved. Therefore, Mammuthus primigenus is the only extinct proboscidan which consistently provides high quality, carvable ivory.

An African elephant tusk can grow to 3.5 meters in length. Enamel is only present on the tusk tip in young animals. It is soon worn off and not replaced. Whole cross-sections of proboscidean tusks are rounded or oval. Dentine composes 95% of the tusk and will sometimes display broad concentric bands. Cementum, which can be thick in extinct genera, covers the outside of the tusk. Cementum can present a layered appearance, particularly in mammoth.

Polished cross-sections of elephant and mammoth ivory dentine display uniquely characteristic Schreger lines. Schreger lines are commonly referred to as cross-hatchings, engine turnings, or stacked chevrons. Schreger lines can be divided into two categories. The easily seen lines which are closest to the cementum are the outer Schreger lines. The faintly discernable lines found around the tusk nerve or pulp cavities are the inner Schreger lines. The intersections of Schreger lines form angles. These Schreger angles appear in two forms: concave angles and convex angles. Concave angles have slightly concave sides and open to the medial (inner) area of the tusk. Convex angles have somewhat convex sides and open to the lateral (outer) area of the tusk. Outer Schreger angles, both concave and convex, are acute in extinct proboscidea and obtuse in extant proboscidea.

A photocopy machine is used to capture Schreger angles from mammoth and elephant ivory cross-sections. The cross-section is placed on the glass plate of a photocopy machine. A blue photocopy transparency sheet may be placed between the object and and the glass plate to enhance the detail of the photocopy. Enlargement of the photocopy may also improve the image and facilitate the measurement process.

After a photocopy of the ivory cross-section has been obtained, Schreger angles may be marked and measured. Use a pen or pencil and a ruler to mark and extend selected outer Schreger angle lines.

NOTE: Only outer Schreger angles should be used in this test.

Once the angles have been marked and extended, a protractor is used to obtain an angle measurement. Several angles, including both concave and convexe angles, should be marked and measured. Once the angles have been marked and measured, calculate the angle average.

Because specimens from both extinct and extant sources may present angles between 90 degrees and 115 degrees in the outer Schreger pattern area, the differentiation of mammoth from elephant ivory should never be based upon single angle measurements when the angles fall in this range.

When averages are used to represent the angles in the individual samples, a clear separation between extinct and extant proboscideans is observed. All the elephant samples had averages above 100 degrees, and all the extinct proboscideans had angle averages below 100 degrees.

 

 

 

 

Another feature may be used to identify mammoth ivory. Mammoth ivory will occasionally display intrusive brownish or blue-green colored blemishes caused by an iron phosphate called vivianite. Elephant ivory will not display intrusive vivianite discoloration in its natural state. It is of interest to note that when the discoloration is barely perceptible to the eye, the use of a hand-held ultraviolet light source causes the blemished area to stand out with a dramatic purple velvet-like appearance. Even if discolored, elephant ivory will not have the characteristic fluorescence of vivianite.

 

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