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.

Mystery Artist 31 – W.E.S.

Back of a carved ivory cuff link with the initials WES - Mystery Artist 31

Carvings in ivory and bone are also considered scrimshaw, and these are a perfect example. Mark W. in Florida writes:

“I have attached three photos of a tie clasp and cuff-link set with the signiture W.E.S. or perhaps W.E. Sr..   Would appreciate help is identifying who it is.  Thanks.   Mark W”

These are beautiful pieces, the whale cuff links took patience to carve so small as well as a steady hand to attach them with those tiny screws.  Anyone know a scrimshaw artist with the initials W.E.S. that may have carved these or any information? We’d love to know.  Add your comments to the section below, Mark and I will be happy to know more about them.

Back of a carved ivory cuff link with the initials WES - Mystery Artist 31 The back of the other carved ivory cufflink with the initials W.E.S. Carved Whale Tie Clasp Mystery Artist 31 facing down