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Crazypoet

So.... fossil ivory? Something else? Enquiring minds!

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Crazypoet

I have an item that came to me as a gift, without provenance or description.  What I know is that it was purchased in a small antique shop in North Carolina about ten years ago

 

i think it *might* be fossil ivory, but can’t be certain.  It looks like some photos I’ve seen of smaller mammoth/mastodon tusks, but it’s been so polished that the original surface is all but obliterated.

 

the piece is 12” long, ~5” diameter at its widest and weighs about 8 pounds

 

any ideas or pointers would be most welcome!

 

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E207BA1C-772C-4486-8637-DDA4F4D012B8.jpeg

2872781E-47E6-4F23-8429-C8A09FFAD382.jpeg

C2813142-1822-4D54-B2BA-4D8141F561CE.jpeg

D068ED33-DA5A-4A0F-92C2-41C7E7C14703.jpeg

8F6EA5A5-D965-486C-ADA4-78B983123341.jpeg

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caldigger

It looks very typical of the Mammoth ivory pieces they sell from Alaska.  The bucket line dredges used during gold production mining dug out tons of tusks and bone from river basins.

For some reason it is popular for them to polish the heck out of the items. :unsure:

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Huntonia

+ 1 for Alaskan mammoth ivory. Polished yes but all in all not a bad piece in my opinion. I think the polished aesthetic attracts more customers. To fossil enthusiasts it may seem unnecessary and perhaps irritating but to the passing tourist the shiny polished look demands attention. I actually really like the shops that sell these in Alaska. Last time I was up there I bought a nice section of walrus ivory with some incredible mineral staining and some quartz (I think) crystals in it. They also had ornately carved fossilized walrus jaws turned into cribbage boards, which I thought was quite cool. And the store clerk was nice enough to take out one of their really nice mammoth teeth and let me look at it even though it was way out of my budget. 

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Ludwigia
44 minutes ago, Rockwood said:

:headscratch:Are you sure ?

This looks more like wood to me.

I'll go along with that. I don't know much about Alaskan Ivory, but I think I can recognize wood grain when I see it.

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Rockwood

Ironically, the end that would be the most diagnostic isn't really polished smooth enough to make out details. It almost looks like an angiosperm to me though.

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Pemphix
1 hour ago, Rockwood said:

Ironically, the end that would be the most diagnostic isn't really polished smooth enough to make out details. It almost looks like an angiosperm to me though.

I agree.

No Schreger Lines currently visible....

https://www.mammutwerkstatt.de/material/elfenbein/

http://www.beyars.com/de_elfenbein-maserung.html

To be sure more polishing needs to be done...

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Tidgy's Dad

+1 for wood. 

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Bobby Rico

Maybe @Ptychodus04 Kris will have an option as I know he has worked with mammoth  ivory . I can see why it does look like ivory the outside has that dense ivory feel but that could be the polish effect . But looking at the end grain it looks like wood. Better picture needed

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fifbrindacier

It looks like polished ivory, but the lines and the aspect of the shown end make also me think about a piece of wood. So, i think this is a piece of worn driftwood.

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caldigger

Crazypoet, how heavy is this piece? Relatively for its size? 

If you can provide some better pictures of the cut end, it may help this delima.

 

Looking at this picture, I may have to change my mode of thinking.

The tusk would have had to be extremely massive in circumference, far larger than any I have ever seen. I'm afraid I may be nudging toward the wood aspect myself.

20200205_042954.png

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Fossildude19

This picture is very telling for me. 

No schreger lines. What appear to be growth rings very visible.C2813142-1822-4D54-B2BA-4D8141F561CE.jpeg.a5c5c445aab265ffdb7d289304851dcf.jpeg

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Ptychodus04

I’m in the wood camp. The edge looks suspicious. I don’t see any schreger lines. 

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Kato

This view, combined with the end view, reminds me of spalted hackberry. The only thing that argues in opposition is the statement that it weighs about 8 lbs which makes it an oddity.

 

 

2872781E-47E6-4F23-8429-C8A09FFAD382.jpeg

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Huntonia

Yes I think I too have spoken too soon. Looks like wood. 

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Rockwood
2 hours ago, Kato said:

This view, combined with the end view, reminds me of spalted hackberry.

The wander in the saw cut might produce a false Ulmiform look in the pores though. 

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Crazypoet

Thanks all for the feedback - I’ll get more detailed pics and measurements this afternoon 

 

it is very heavy for its size, which is what got me curious in the first place 

 

I’ll focus specifically on the end when I do the next set of pics.

 

this is an interesting process, and a learning experience for me as well!

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Rockwood

:headscratch:Curious, but irrelevant I think.

I just tried a quick image search of Ulmiform. The first one up looks a little like a longitudinal section of ivory.

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Kato
1 hour ago, Crazypoet said:

Thanks all for the feedback - I’ll get more detailed pics and measurements this afternoon 

 

it is very heavy for its size, which is what got me curious in the first place 

 

I’ll focus specifically on the end when I do the next set of pics.

 

this is an interesting process, and a learning experience for me as well!

How about a simple hardness test? If it is wood, then you may be able to make an indentation in the wood with your fingernail. I would try the end grain as it seems to be unfinished.

 

Maybe you'd be able to post a sharp enlarged image of the area in orange?

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grandpa
1 hour ago, Kato said:

If it is wood, then you may be able to make an indentation in the wood with your fingernail

I believe the "wood camp" respondents believe that it is petrified wood, not modern wood, which typically has the hardness of SiO2.^_^

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Kato
4 minutes ago, grandpa said:

I believe the "wood camp" respondents believe that it is petrified wood, not modern wood, which typically has the hardness of SiO2.^_^

I'm in the 'wood camp', yet not convinced it is permineralized/petrified.

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Rockwood
7 hours ago, Kato said:

The only thing that argues in opposition is the statement that it weighs about 8 lbs which makes it an oddity.

You're thinking it's high for wood or low for rock ?

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Kato
24 minutes ago, Rockwood said:

You're thinking it's high for wood or low for rock ?

@Rockwood 

 

You have me cornered or are you trying to corner me?  ;)  8 lbs is too heavy for wood that I am familiar with. Perhaps even too heavy for a specimen of 'rock' that size. I have lots of rocks in my yard that size that perhaps weigh half that amount.  I just went out and weighed some. They weighed closer to 4-5 lbs. Granted there are rocks that are denser and would weigh more. 

 

To confound me it just does not look permineralized or petrified. Thus, though I am in the 'wood camp' I just can't decide if I am in the modern or ancient wood camp. 

 

Regardless, it would make a nice display piece when stood on the flat end.

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Rockwood

I did the geometry, calculated the volume and it comes out to precisely the density of SiO2.

:) Kidding. I picked up what looked like about the same amount of petrified wood from Odessa and 8# seemed about right.

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Kato
4 minutes ago, Rockwood said:

I did the geometry, calculated the volume and it comes out to precisely the density of SiO2.

:) Kidding. I picked up what looked like about the same amount of petrified wood from Odessa and 8# seemed about right.

haha. I have to remember my permineralize/petrified wood doesn't look like this stuff. Mine is SiO2 and super iron enriched so I am onboard with your statement regarding weight.

 

Still...there's that part of me that cut down many a hackberry tree...and my eyes&brain say Hackberry! oth, I've never seen Alaskan mammoth tusks.

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