Originally Posted by Robert
Colin, By looking closely at your photos I believe that the gap now present is most likely a combination of age shrinkage in the horn and ivory that has allowed the original adhesive/resin that was used to fill between the individual pieces to loosen and fall out. If I were to do the repair on this piece I would use cutlers resin mixed to the correct color to match that used between the brass and horn pieces to fill the gap. It is easy enough to make, color and apply and will hold for years if you clean the dirk and other contaminates out of the space to be filled before its being applied. There are many recipes on how to make the resin online and powdered pigment used for coloring it is also easily found as well. If you do a search the recipe that I use is posted here on the forum. This should be a fairly easy enough repair, so if you decide to do it yourself please remember to wrap the ivory and horn with painters tape (leaving only the area to be filled exposed) before applying the resin. This will help when smoothing the resin before it cools and will also help keep any from getting on the surface of the ivory which could cause some lose of patina when removed. Congratulations on your good fortune in acquiring this very nice dagger.
Robert, thanks for your very informative response. Certainly, filling the gap with a mastic of some sort is an option. Its quite a large gap however, and it seems the resin originally used between the various hilt elements was only a very thin layer, as a type of glue.
Dis-assembling the hilt would be problematic, and would create other issues, such as breaking the mastic seal where the silver and ivory meet, as well as leaving some of the tang protruding. H'mm, maybe best to leave it as it is for the time being ? ...