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Old 25th March 2008, 08:58 PM   #1
Amuk Murugul
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Default Definitive Test for Rhino Horn Please

Hullo everybody,

Will someone please tell me a definitive way to distinguish rhino horn from other types of horn?
I've researched the topic a lot, but every time I think I'm on top of it, along comes something which confuses me.
I am now well-read and WELL-CONFUSED!!

Best.
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Old 25th March 2008, 09:09 PM   #2
spiral
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Each fibrous structure at magnification on end grain looks like a circle with a dot in the middle, rather like orange skin to look at.

Other than that I dont know of any test.

Much buffalo, goat & antelope horns can also be fiberous & often sold by unscroupolous dealers as Rhino horn. Especialy if of unusual coloring.

But magnification of end grain when visible reveals the truth.

I read lots but to be able to truly "see" it I had to handle authentic examples first.

Spiral
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Old 25th March 2008, 09:11 PM   #3
Tim Simmons
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It should burn in the same that your fingernail cuttings burn. A sort of melting burn unlike charring of wood. I have two African staffs which I believe are Rhino horn. The ends are carved as people and holes have been made for the eyes, set with stone in one and glass beads in the other. These holes have been made by something hot poked into the material, when you look close with magnification you can see the edges are a melted burn like burning fingernails. I hope that helps, the trouble is finding a place to make a test?

Just realised all? horn is keratin. If it is solid and 1m long it not so difficult. Rhinos can grow horn up to 2m. That would look huge as a stick in your hands. Stick it on the bonnet of a small range rover motor car and it will look a lot more modest.

This mention stuff about length if you read carefully.
http://www.honoluluzoo.org/white_rhinoceros.htm

Last edited by Tim Simmons : 25th March 2008 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 25th March 2008, 09:51 PM   #4
katana
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Hi Amuk,

perhaps these pictures will also help....

Regards David

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Old 25th March 2008, 10:42 PM   #5
spiral
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Simmons
It should burn in the same that your fingernail cuttings burn.
Just realised all? horn is keratin. ]


Yep all horn contains keratin Tim, when burnt or if had boiling water poured over it most buffalo horn smells like an old farmyard full of manure & burnt hair. The same is true of rhino.


Thats a great picture Katana, shows the "orange peel" end grain structure well.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/attac...tid=28204&stc=1

Sadley the fiberous side structure appearance is found on many horns that arnt rhino. I find one has to find where the grain runs out to get a true identyfying piece. But as Rhino is solid it never needs a buttcap on the handle anyway.

It would be great to find a quick & reliable test!

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Old 26th March 2008, 09:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
It should burn in the same that your fingernail cuttings burn.


I have not yet requested this at the auctionhouse yet, but I assume they will have a problem with me setting their unsold item on fire

Personally I am not very fond of rhino, indeed because it is not always easy to recognize. But also I am more inpressed by craftmenship of the carver, wheter it is in rhino, buffalo, ivory or wood.
The pieces I have seen where complete horns decorated by the chinese, and on those pieces you can indeed easily see the grain/hair structure.

Willem
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Old 26th March 2008, 05:45 PM   #7
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Willem, I agree wholeheartedly with you that the quality art and artistic expression does not depend on the intrinsic value put on the material it is made from. Market forces are not always influenced by subtleties. This can be to your advantage sometimes.
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