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.