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Thread: Mastodon Ivory? Interesting read.

  1. #1
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    Mastodon Ivory? Interesting read.


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    After reading this, it makes me wonder if the Mastodon Ivory handled Bucks I have are actually Mastodon or are they Mammoth. It's cool either way, but the lack of "bark" on the Mastodon tusks makes me wonder.

    Mammoth and Mastodon Ivory
    Although commonly called Mastodon Ivory, at least 98% of the ancient elephant ivory from Alaska, Siberia or N. Western Canada is Mammoth Ivory. The Mastadon line has gone extinct while the Mammoth line survives today as the Asian and African elephant. Mammoth ivory from Alaska is from 11,000 to 40,000 years old. Bones and ivory radiocarbon dated from interior Alaska near Fairbanks is commonly 25-28,000 years old. Preserved frozen for thousands of years, the material is still usable while most Mammoth and Mastodon ivory from lower latitudes in the Continental U.S. has been mineralized into stone.
    Mammoth Ivory has an outer enamel layer commonly called bark ivory which is harder than the inner ivory or dentine. Commonly, the inner dentine will be completely rotted away while the bark is still usable for artwork. Mastodon Tusks do not have a bark ivory layer distinct from the ivory in the inside of the tusk.


    The catalog for 2002 says this knife has mastodon ivory handles, but it has "bark", so maybe it's mammoth instead. Just had me wondering.

    Last edited by Plumberdv; 02-03-2010 at 07:52 AM.
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  2. #2
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    interesting- I always figgered the difference for mamoth to mastadon was like german sheppard to golden retriever. Stil not too sure. Not a big believer in the accuracy of cabon dating myself.


    BTW beautiful 532

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    Good looking knife Dave

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    I think it would be easy to tell under magnification as "mastodon" has fossilized into stone and the "mammoth" is preserved ivory. Also, if you work with it, it is immediately apparent which you have.

    Peter

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flatlander1963 View Post
    Good looking knife Dave
    Thanks G. I just bought that one from a fellow forum member and don't have it yet. I have one just like it, but the ivory on this one looks better. The picture is one that the previous owner took (I assume) and sent me.

    I found this to be interesting and I'm not sure how I'd follow the recommendations for storing it.

    "All finished ivory products, including knife handles, require proper care. In general, that means keeping carvings or knives in storage cases with a container of water to maintain constant humidity and occasionally wiping the ivory product with non-drying oil. Non drying oil is mineral oil or baby oil.
    Ivory that has been buffed with buffing and polishing compounds is sealed and will breath much less than non-buffed ivory. In the case of a knife handle the back of the scale should be sealed with locktite, superglue or epoxy and the ends, sides and face should be buffed and polished to minimize movement, cracking or breathing. Even knives with properly prepared ivory handles should be stored in cases with constant humidity and oiled occasionally."


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    Quote Originally Posted by peterinct View Post
    I think it would be easy to tell under magnification as "mastodon" has fossilized into stone and the "mammoth" is preserved ivory. Also, if you work with it, it is immediately apparent which you have.

    Peter
    Are you sure about this? This is not my understanding. Mastadon ivory is much like mammoth ivory unless I've been misinformed. I have a knife with mastodon ivory scales and they are not rock.


    @ Plumberdv

    Good stuff...that knife looks great.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peterinct View Post
    I think it would be easy to tell under magnification as "mastodon" has fossilized into stone and the "mammoth" is preserved ivory. Also, if you work with it, it is immediately apparent which you have.

    Peter
    I don't think "all" mastodon ivory has fossilized. The tusks found in the permafrost I don't think have turned to rock.

    "Mammoth Tusk, Mastodon Tusk: Also called Ancient Ivory, this is one of the most popular custom and handmade knife handle materials. These are the actual tusks of Mammoths and Mastodons that have died thousands of years ago. Sometimes called "fossil ivory", this is a complete misnomer, since fossilization is the replacement of the ivory by rock. Fossils are minerals. These tusks come from areas where these extinct beasts have died, and their tusks have been buried soon enough to prevent consumption by other animals, and are thus preserved in soil, muck, or debris. The soils then impart color into the old ivory by thousands of years of water carrying traces of minerals into the organic ivory, staining it. The highly stained surfaces are the most valued, with browns, black, blues, rusts, and greens in the ivory. Also, some interesting staining patterns can develop. The minerals harden and stabilize the ivory to different degrees, and that probably has to do with their age and environment after burial. So these ivories are more durable than contemporary elephant ivory, but can be brittle. Each piece is different. They usually take a high, glossy polish, and are highly valued, increasing the worth of a custom knife tremendously. It is not uncommon to pay hundreds of dollars for the mammoth ivory scales before ever mounting them on a knife."
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    I just realized that I don't have a good picture of my first one, but it's in this bunch. I also noticed that it's signed on the opposite side as the new one. It has a crack in the ivory, but it appears to have been sealed.

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    Then again, maybe that isn't "bark" but is staining like that talked about in post #7.

    Here's a picture of a Buck canoe that has mastodon ivory and has no bark. (Thanks for the pict.,Gordon)

    "The highly stained surfaces are the most valued, with browns, black, blues, rusts, and greens in the ivory. Also, some interesting staining patterns can develop."

    Last edited by Plumberdv; 02-03-2010 at 08:32 AM.
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    Beautiful knives Dave, and interesting discussion.

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    [QUOTE=Plumberdv;7817911]Then again, maybe that isn't "bark" but is staining like that talked about in post #7.

    "The highly stained surfaces are the most valued, with browns, black, blues, rusts, and greens in the ivory. Also, some interesting staining patterns can develop."

    Good questions. I would also like to know the real differences. Here are two different types.


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    Good questions. I would also like to know the real differences. Here are two different types.


    Here is another type.
    hkingdom
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    Quote Originally Posted by morrowj_98 View Post
    Are you sure about this? This is not my understanding. Mastadon ivory is much like mammoth ivory unless I've been misinformed. I have a knife with mastodon ivory scales and they are not rock.


    @ Plumberdv

    Good stuff...that knife looks great.
    I am sure that IF the material HAS fossilized (molecules replaced by minerals or mineralized) it is easy to tell under magnification or working it. Similar to "petrified" wood which is mineralized wood that has "turned to stone"

    If it was harvested from "permafrost" it would be preserved and still look and work like ivory.

    Sorry for any confusion.

    WOW Dave. That 532 is SWEET with the mammoth.

    Peter

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    Quote Originally Posted by peterinct View Post
    I am sure that IF the material HAS fossilized (molecules replaced by minerals or mineralized) it is easy to tell under magnification or working it. Similar to "petrified" wood which is mineralized wood that has "turned to stone"

    If it was harvested from "permafrost" it would be preserved and still look and work like ivory.

    Sorry for any confusion.

    WOW Dave. That 532 is SWEET with the mammoth.

    Peter
    Here's a picture of my Alaskan Guide with mammoth tooth handles. It's for sure fossilized.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hkingdom View Post
    Good questions. I would also like to know the real differences. Here are two different types.


    Here is another type.
    Those are all three great looking knives! I particularly like the last one. Is that a 124?
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    Are these ever artificially stained for a "bark-like" effect to make them look nicer?

    These are some beautiful knives, BTW.

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    this is a good read
    i would like some university expert's comments on the differences...
    tin sue do you know any one there at TAM that could/would
    comment on the differences?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Plumberdv View Post
    Those are all three great looking knives! I particularly like the last one. Is that a 124?

    Thanks. It is a 124. You also have some great looking knives. I especially like your 532.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plumberdv View Post
    Here's a picture of my Alaskan Guide with mammoth tooth handles. It's for sure fossilized.

    That is a NICE Alaskan Guide. Mammoth tooth is cool but can be VERY frustrating to work with if it is not stabilized. It is prone to fracture.

    Peter

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    Quote Originally Posted by 334dave View Post
    this is a good read
    i would like some university expert's comments on the differences...
    tin sue do you know any one there at TAM that could/would
    comment on the differences?
    Don't know any expert in this area, and I'm not one either, but here is my take, for what it's worth. Mammoths were closely related to todays modern elephants; and mastodons, although they look much like both mammoths and elephants, were considerably different in many ways. All had tusks, which are modified teeth, and it is my understanding that while the tusks of both mammoths and elephants have an outer "bark", the tusks of mastodons do not. However, the bark could easily be worn away with use by rubbing the tusks against various objects. So what you see in Plumber's photos would most likely be the outer portion of the tusk of a mammoth, even though I think Buck listed it as mastodon ivory. (To many, a mammoth and mastodon are the same thing, and that is simply a prehistoric elephant). I have a 110 with "elephant bark ivory" which was also described as being "blue-veined", but is not quite as "barky" (is that a word?) as Plumber's. When you get past the outer, barky portion of the tusk, you get down to the dentine (remember that the tusk is a modified tooth and dentine is in the inner portion of a tooth once you get past the enamel) and that gives you the nice smooth white ivory that we are more familar with, although mammoth ivory is a littler darker in color than that of elephant ivory. So you could kind of compare the bark ivory to the outer portion of a stag antler which is nice and rough (i.e., barky) that most of us really like, while the inner (dentine) ivory is kind of like second cut stag (which is often then secondarily jigged rather than left smooth as is the ivory). Plumber's photo of the mammoth tooth scales on the 110 are actually fossilized teeth, rather than tusks, that have been hardened, and pigmented as well, by the deposition of minerals over time.

    Maybe 300 Bucks, the other biologist is the group, has something to add.
    Last edited by Tin Sue; 02-03-2010 at 03:08 PM.

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