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Ivory bottle. Boy, carp and lotus

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Author Topic: Ivory bottle. Boy, carp and lotus  (Read 1847 times)
Fiveroosters
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« on: September 20, 2012, 02:38:02 am »

Dear members,
I have this bottle since a few months. It has a diameter of 5 cm, clearly the cross cut of a tusk or some other tooth, with the thickness of 17 mm. It seems to have a good patina but I am not expert on this material. The carving looks not bad to me, but you are the experts when it comes to snuff bottles styles. What I do not like is that it is clear that the knob never had a spoon fitted in it.
Is it an interesting one in your opinion? Thank you in advance
Giovanni


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« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 08:01:09 am by Bottle Guy » Report Spam   Logged

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Wattana
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« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2012, 03:36:31 am »

Hi Giovanni,

From the pictures showing the distinctive cross-hatch pattern it is definitely elephant ivory, and appears to be made from a cross-slice so as to make best use of its slightly oval diameter. The composition is well balanced, and the carving is quite nicely done, especially some of the details like the waves and lotus leaves.

The stopper appears to have been prepared to receive the shaft of a spoon, so it may be that it once had a spoon, which was since lost. You say it has some patina, but that does not help much with dating. It could have genuinely been handled extensively for a few years by its owner, or it may have been enhanced artificially.

Personally, I have never seen an ivory snuff bottle of this shape before. In my opinion it is a modern bottle (1980 or later), made for the tourist market.

But I could be wrong!

Tom
« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 03:38:05 am by Wattana » Report Spam   Logged

Tom
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« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2012, 06:50:31 am »

Dear Tom,
thank you. I exactly bought it for the carving of the lotus leaves and the waves, which did look good to me. I thought that the edge of the leaves turned inside was a sign of good quality. Aboutthe patina, another point that led me to think that it has some age is the stopper. You can see in the last two pictures that the stopper has a neat difference of color between the part exposed to light and the part that do not receive light because stuck in the bottle. I thought that the light could change the color of the ivory, but I don't know if this is actually true. Let see if some member can confirm this.
Giovanni
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Wattana
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« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2012, 06:58:59 am »


You can see in the last two pictures that the stopper has a neat difference of color between the part exposed to light and the part that do not receive light because stuck in the bottle. I thought that the light could change the color of the ivory, but I don't know if this is actually true. Let see if some member can confirm this.


Dear Giovanni,

I have no experience of this, unless, of course, the ivory has been stained, and the stain itself is being affected by light.

Tom
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Tom
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« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2012, 07:09:46 am »

Hmmm..... I didn't consider that possibility, you are right. "Due teste sono meglio di una" (two heads are better than one) as we say.Smiley
Giovanni
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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2012, 07:22:04 am »

I think it might be mammoth ivory.

The cross-hatchings are called Schreger lines. You can judge whether ivory is from an elephant or a mammoth based on the angle of the cross-hatching. If they are under 90 degrees they are mammoth ivory. If over they are elephant ivory.

This is an example of mammoth ivory taken from wikipedia (under the Schreger Lines article)



If you look at Giovanni's last photo, towards the middle / bottom of the bottle you can see the cross-hatching is very tight and under 90 degrees.

This is a very interesting article regarding mammoth ivory:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/25/world/europe/25iht-mammoth.4.11415717.html?_r=0
« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 07:25:29 am by Lotus Flower » Report Spam   Logged
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« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2012, 07:29:18 am »

Mammoth ivory looks more 'plasticy' than ivory, and because it has been frozen under the ice for hundreds of years, it has a natural staining to the surface.

I know this because I bought some ivory chess pieces a couple of years ago that turned out to be mammoth ivory. They had the same appearance as Giovanni's bottle.

James
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2012, 07:38:56 am »

An interesting link that explains the difference between elephant and mammoth ivory. Well worth reading:

http://www.lab.fws.gov/ivory_natural.php
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2012, 08:05:50 am »

Dear James,
thank you very much. I will be back this evening after reading the links and checking the cross lines on the bottle.
Giovanni
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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2012, 04:15:14 pm »

Dera James,
what interesting, thank you so much for this information, never heard about that. Since my bottle it is make out from a slice of the tusk, it is very easy to check the angle of the cross lines. Definitely they have an open angle, so it is from an elephant.
Thanks again.
Giovanni
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2012, 04:56:13 pm »

Hi Giovanni. The problem with this test is that it depends which way round you hold the item in question. Below are two different angles of the same image. On the left the angles look like mammoth ivory. On the right they look like elephant.

Below are 2 images of my mammoth ivory chess pieces I was talking about. With mammoth ivory, the schreger lines are very prominent and are almost always a darker yellow/brown colour, much more prominent than with elephant ivory. There is also a lot of discolouration that looks like patina or staining, which is where the surface has been exposed to the ice.

It's hard to say without handling it, but to my eye your snuff bottle has the same look as my chess set. Looking at the photos of my chess set, do you see the similarities..... or am i crazy?

James


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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2012, 05:02:04 pm »

pictures are better than words:


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« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2012, 05:56:54 pm »

Dear James,
it depends on the orientation of the piece. Today, before watching the site that you have provided, I was pondering myself which was the orientation of the lines compared to its position in the cross section of the tusk. To understand what I mean, below is an image with a detail of one of your chess pieces. It is the same detail, turned 90 degrees one respect to the other. If we just look at the lines, the left one should be mammoth, and the right one elephant, while indeed thay are the same. Later on the site of the link I saw thanks to the two pictures shown there that one has to look at the lines from the center of the tusk toward the circumference. On my bottle, being it a cross section, this can perfectly be seen. All around the circumference the lozenges are wider than taller. It is hard to say how your chess pieces has been carved out from the tusk. If they are not cross section, then the lines should be seen from the same point of view of the images provided in that site. Probably from the top of the piece?
Unless we are not understanding each other, which is my constant fear because of my low knowledge of the language.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2012, 06:00:44 pm »

Sorry I forgot to attach the picture (second time today, time to go to bed)Smiley
Here it is:


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Wattana
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« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2012, 09:43:44 pm »


On my bottle, being it a cross section, this can perfectly be seen. All around the circumference the lozenges are wider than taller. It is hard to say how your chess pieces has been carved out from the tusk. If they are not cross section, then the lines should be seen from the same point of view of the images provided in that site.


Hi Giovanni and James,

Firstly, thank you James for the Schreger test. I did not know how to tell the difference before seeing your links. But I agree with Giovanni that his bottle is indisputably a cross section of the tusk, so on that basis it is easy to read the Schreger lines correctly. With the chess pieces, it is not so easy, as they could be carved from tangental cuts of the tusk rather than cross cuts.

Tom
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Tom
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« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2012, 09:01:34 am »

Dear all,
sorry to be back to this bottle. I had Tom's opinion on this, and after that the discussion went to how recognize elephant and mammoth ivory. I will like to know if this bottle is definitely modern. Also I have no idea about the value because the trade of ivory objects is forbidden depending on the Country. I will appreciate very much to know if what I paid (300 euro) is anyway too much even for a modern bottle.
Thank you
Giovanni
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« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2012, 09:29:16 pm »

Dear Giovanni,

You must gather some responses from other members of the forum. As I said earlier, I have never (in 40 years) seen an ivory bottle with this design. In my opinion it is a modern bottle (post-1980) made for the tourist market. But I may be wrong.

As for pricing, there was an excellent thread about 6 weeks ago dedicated to ivory snuff bottles under the heading "Glory of the Elephant", but it has since been removed by its originator. In it were links to several US auctions in August of this year. Large numbers of ivory bottles dating from the 1960s and 1970s were being offered in the range US$200-300 each. None were intricately carved in 3D like yours, so it would be difficult to compare prices. Also, the price range I mentioned were the pre-sale estimates. I do not know what prices were realized.

Anyway, I am posting a few typical ones here for reference.

Tom


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« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 09:33:43 pm by Wattana » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2012, 02:48:52 am »

Dear Tom,
thank you very much. If you say that in 40 years you have never seen something similar, then I think that there are no doubts, it must have been made for the tourist market as you suspect. I have to add that the body of the carp inside is not well hollowed, it is roughly drilled; I think this should be enough to exclude the possibility that this piece was intended as a real snuff botle, isn't it?
Kind regards
Giovanni

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« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2012, 03:15:14 am »

Dear Giovanni,

I think there can be no doubt that it was never intended for use. But neither were inside painted bottles. So that is not a determining factor for its age. There are many fine bottles made 100 years ago, that were aimed at the collector's market, including ivory bottles made in Japan. The collectors' market began in earnest around 1870, if not earlier.

The rough quality of the hollowing is only one "indicator" that the bottle is not old. This can be added to the negative points, but the strongest signs are the overall composition, the balance, the lack of other old bottles with similar design, and the 'feel' - a word that Joey often uses! It is hard to describe: when you have seen and handled many bottles over a long period of time, you just have a 'feel' as to whether a thing is old or new. I am sure you have this experience with porcelain objects.

But I think you should let other members give their opinions here too!

Tom
« Last Edit: September 25, 2012, 03:18:05 am by Wattana » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2012, 04:01:59 am »

Dear Tom,
thank you for your guidance, much appreciated. I have a question, may be a silly one. I have understand that there are bottles intended for use and bottles intended merely as object of appreciation for collection, display etc. We can say that more or less is the same for porcelain, although not so drastically I think. My question is: a fine bottle made for the second category (display) must be a real bottle? I mean if it must be apt to be used, i.e. should it be rightly hollowed, etc. I suppose yes. For example, an agate bottle of superior quality, very well carved, has to be accepted if it has a simple drilled hole instead of being well hollowed? I would discard it. Is that right or not? A bit naive, I know, but perhaps typical question from a beginner.
Giovanni
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