Mystery Artist 34 – BB

An interesting set of scrimshaw jewelry with the initials “BB” and…

“My wife acquired a silver scrimshaw bracelet and ring in the 70’s, along with what she was told is a penile bone ring. We would appreciate any info you could give us about them.  The silver work looks to be done by the same artist, as all the pieces have a hammered backplate and similar beadwork around the rims.  The bracelet depicts a bird with a pointy crest landing on a morning-glory looking flower with a flat leaf below. It looks like it is signed “BB” at the bottom.  The scrimshaw ring also depicts a morning-glory type flower, with four sets of leaves around it. It has what might be a stylized capital “A” or “V”, depending on which orientation you view it.

Thanks for your help!

Norm & Debi

The penile bone, also known as a baculum is usually from a walrus, which – if the material all came from the same place, could mean the other piece is either walrus or mammoth, more than likely from Alaska.  The initials “BB” are well formed, though I don’t find any information on them other than a Ben Shostle (  Hoping someone knows the artist and can fill you in on the history of the pieces!

Mammoth Ban Bandwagon

Mammoth dragging states in wagon

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:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

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.




Mystery Artist 33 – Owl Sculpture PS

Owl Pendandt

This diminutive owl is carved into an unknown material that appears to be either ivory or bone.  An excellent amount of detail, the upper left edge shows an edge that may be from a mold, but I cannot tell.  The initials “PS” appear in the lower right hand corner. Anyone know who created this piece? I really like the eyes.  Add your comments in the section below, the owner would love to know more about the artist.

Edge of Owl Pendant - Mystery Artist 33Back of owl pendant, mystery artist 33 Owl Pendandt

Mystery Artist 32 – “B” Whale

Base of scrimshaw - mystery artist 32Looking up and into the center of the tusk/tooth - Mystery Artist 32Close-up of the initial "B" - Mystery Artist 32Severiano from Ohio writes: “I have had this for many years. Do you know who this artist is that signs with the letter “B” ?”

Whale on ivory just under the water

Not sure if this is a tusk tip or a whale tooth, hope to get a picture of the base.  My teacher Eduardo Brum would often sign his work with a single letter B as well, though it doesn’t give us much to go on. Purchased from an antique shop on Galveston Island Texas.