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Chinese Snuff Bottle Discussion Forum 中國鼻煙壺討論論壇
June 25, 2017, 05:18:44 am
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Mammoth Tooth Snuff Bottle?

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Author Topic: Mammoth Tooth Snuff Bottle?  (Read 342 times)
ileney
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« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2017, 11:53:07 am »

I am curious as to how one would differentiate fossil mammoth ivory vs. fossil mammoth tooth. I have a small scrimshaw pendant and I think another piece somewhere and don't think I could have differentiated them from this material, though perhaps in hand there is some obvious difference?
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Wattana
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« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2017, 10:37:30 pm »

Hi Ileney,

There is common confusion over these materials. Firstly, both tooth and tusk (what you are calling ivory) can be found in fossilized and 'unfossilized' form. The fossilized items are in reality stone which has slowly displaced the original organic matter over a long period of time.  I have only ever handled a couple of old snuff bottles made of mammoth tooth. They had the weight and feel of stone - heavy, cold to the touch, and so on. The same would apply to fossilized mammoth ivory - although I have never handled any personally.  It is a geological process, so takes several million years for anything to become fossilized (including bones, wood, etc.).

If the mammoth tooth and ivory are sourced from animals that died only 10,000 to 40,000 years ago then items made from them will still be in their organic state. When handled you will immediately notice them to be fairly light in weight and warm to the touch. I have not (at least not knowingly) come across any organic tooth material, but mammoth ivory is seen on the market as an 'eco-friendly' substitute for elephant ivory. It looks and feels the same. Consequently it gets used for things like reading glass frames, combs and knife handles. Many eBay listings claim to be made of mammoth ivory to get around the CITES ban, but I suspect are not. Mammoth ivory is relatively expensive, while elephant ivory is not. Unfortunately it's still cheaper to slaughter elephants than dig up the permafrost in Siberia to extract frozen mammoths. 
Anyway, one can easily test the difference by checking the Schreger lines:
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schreger_line

Tom
 
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Tom
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rpfstoneman
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« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2017, 11:16:10 pm »

Ileney,

Be aware that mammoth teeth and mammoth ivory tusks are different parts of the same animal. Though similar in composition, ivory tusks are not encased in a hard enamel as teeth.  If you do a web search of mammoth teeth you see more information and images of teeth. Below is a natural history link that discusses the rediscovery of mammoth teeth findings.   

http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/virtualmuseum/MysteryofMammothTeeth.shtml

Charll
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Charll K Stoneman, Eureka, California USA, Collector Since 1979.

ileney
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« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2017, 11:44:08 am »

Many thanks to Tom and Charll for the extensive information provided. Now I will know what to look for.
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Jungle Jas
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« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2017, 03:31:37 am »

I suppose the difference in the weight and appearance in these bottles is due entirely to how long ago the mammoth died they were on the earth a considerable amount of time in one form or another. Some died thousands of years ago some quite recently. Indeed they can still be dug up out of the ice a little further north than the UK. Wink
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