There are currently four states that have banned the sale of mammoth ivory, and more are attempting to copy/paste it into their legislation. The four states are currently: New York, New Jersey, California & Hawaii. What is the reason behind this? Efficiency? Other states are doing it, so why don’t we? We can reduce the workforce if we just ban all ivory? I’m sure there are many rationalizations, but as scrimshanders try to balance their art and passion with eco-friendly alternatives and more states are entertaining the idea of banning the sale of ivory from extinct species it makes us pause. As of this post, other states with pending legislation banning mammoth ivory include:
- District of Columbia
- Rhode Island
Some of these have failed, others are still being debated.
As a scrimshander who sells their work and really enjoys the properties of mammoth ivory, does this close the book on a favorite pastime? Not really, but it does shift the time spent on work on a potentially unsellable medium vs sellable medium. Most states still allow the sale of mammoth ivory, and my small stock of usable mammoth ivory now becomes the material saved for “passion projects” – scrimshaws that will be done specifically for the joy of working on this material. Alternatives such as galalith, bone and antler will be used more for artwork that I also enjoy creating, and can also be sold to people who appreciate the art no matter the state or province they reside. One other alternative I haven’t worked with yet is mammoth bone, which no legislation has made illegal, and some of the higher-end shops have been selling mammoth bone knife scales as an alternative. Shark teeth are another alternative I haven’t tried yet, though I have seen some excellent work on them.
As a scrimshaw artist, you will need to keep aware of the laws regarding mammoth ivory, and also look for alternatives that work for you. Below is a handy reference that is updated regularly, and it would be a good idea to create an alert in google for “ivory legislation”, then search for “mammoth” in the results.
We’re hoping someone may be able to identify the artist and the material on this necklace. I’ve emailed the owner hoping to get some better pictures, especially of the signature to the left. It appears to be either ivory or possibly antler, hard to tell since the base is capped. The cracks at the top make me think ivory, but the staining near the base makes me think antler. Anyone know the artist or material? We’d love to know. Post your comments below, and as always, thank you!
The artist’s name was Ellery Knight. Thanks to Dario for sending us the information! You can see the original post at http://www.scrimshaw.com/mystery-artist-16-knight/ and the information Dario has shared.
Some of Ellery’s other work can be seen on the following links:
There are several other mystery artists we haven’t been able to match, and if you have a piece of scrimshaw you’d like us to feature on our site to help you find and possibly connect with the artist, please contact us at “firstname.lastname@example.org” with the subject “mystery artist”. A good picture of the work along with a close-up of any initials or signatures helps. Also let us know where (what city/state) you found the item – scrimshaw artists are all over the states, and all over the world!
We have been very busy with work, so much so that I haven’t had much time to scrimshaw – which is hard on me in a number of ways at this time of year. I have been able to create some Christmas gifts that I still need to wrap, and I’ve been able to sell some of the blank ivory alternative ivory bookmarks at our Paul’s Sugar House where local artisans sell their wares this time of year (hard not to spend any profits on all the wonderful artwork, pottery, ornaments, etc. there!)
In the upcoming newsletter I’ll be sharing my findings working with deer antler. I’d happened on someone who works for the highway department nearby who had some extras, so I’ll be setting about sanding some of the tips down and polishing them to scrimshaw.
Jason Webb has been busy too, with his latest scrimshaw on pre-embargo elephant ivory which is to the right. Several other scrimshanders have been busy too, and if you’d like a mention, let me know – I’ll squeeze you in when I can. Jason’s page is in chronological order, so if you scroll to the very bottom you can click on the pictures there to see nice hi-resolution images
Creating scrimshaw piano key bookmarks in two varieties: “Heads” and “Tails”. Each come with a double satin ribbon tail and either a name or initials of your choice. Available through the Etsy.com store. They’re made from piano key top replacements that are legal in all states so no one in New York or New Jersey (or California) will be exempt. I also have real ivory piano key heads and tails in very short supply, if interested and legal in your state, email me and I can create a custom scrimshaw of your choice. Click on the picture to go to the etsy.com store.