Asian Carved Ivory Snuff Bottle

This example is a new resin reproduction copied from an older piece that would have been hand carved out of ivory. As a result of regulations put in place on commercial ivory trade in the mid-20th century, fake ivory items made of various imitation substances have been dumped on the market.

Advice on how to determine whether an item is made of ivory or a man-made substance is easily found, such as testing the surface with a hot pin. However, such an invasive test can also cause serious damage. Clearly you won't be much better off knowing that you do have real carved ivory, if the piece you own is now damaged.

Though the plastic resin body on the item in this listing has been tinted and shaped to resemble carved ivory, knowing characteristics to look for on its surface makes it possible to ID the substance from which it was made. In the details of the 'carved' scenes, look closely and you'll eventually start seeing rounded pits here and there in the design. These were made when gas bubbles broke on the molten plastic surface, as the piece cooled. These pits are one of the signs that prove it was not hand carved, at all, but made of plastic resin poured into a mold and allowed to harden.

Another visual clue is the complete absence of grain structures normally found in real ivory. Celluloid and other man-made substances were sometimes given printed grained patterns to visually simulate natural ivory. But artificial patterns in man-made ivory substitutes are uniform and repetitive, so they are easy to detect as false. Synthetic ivory products like poured resin cannot be made to exhibit internal ivory-like grain and so items made from such substances typically must settle for being ivory in color alone.

The spoon inside this item is made of hard plastic.

Measures almost 4 inches tall and approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Item ID: 2007RP000400

Modern Reproductions, Fakes and Fantasies


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Illustrations and Characteristics for Help in Identifying Many Confusing New Items

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