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Old 14th December 2016, 09:02 AM   #7
mariusgmioc's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 1,114

Regarding the diferentiation between Ivory, bone and other similar materials

I fully agree with what Detlef said but I would like to go into further detail. There are several details that allow a knowledgeable eye to diferentiate between these materials, but most of them are minute details that in most cases are not visible in a photo.

For example elephant, and to a lesser degree mammouth ivory display a very fine criss-cross texture called Schreger Lines that is visible only under certain lighting conditions and only for finely polished surfaces (so very dificult to capture in photos). However, this texture is not present in the other types of ivory (walrus, hippopotamus, marine, etc.).

Walrus ivory on the other hand, tends to display a characteristic marbled/checkered texture. This texture however, is displayed only in parts, so there can be whole parts without any single sign of this characteristic.

Hippopotamus ivory doesn't display neither the Schreger Lines, nor the marble texture, but may display some diferently coloured veins lengthwise and concentric circles (like the rings of a tree) in cross-section.

Marine (whale tooth) ivory is similar to the walrus ivory but without the marbled texture. Some say that it can occasionaly display the marbled texture but I personally haven't seen this.

Then there are synthetic resins that immitate almost perfectly ivory and make visual distinction almost impossible (yet, sinthetic resins do not immitate the Schreger lines).

Bone on the other hand, displays a significantly coarser texture than any type of ivory, having fine fibres and spots visible with naked eye or moderate magnification.

While in theory it may sound quite easy to identify ivory, in practice it can be very dificult even for most experienced and discerning eyes, especially for older pieces (with strong yellow patination and cracks, like the scales of your Shamshir are).
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