This hand crafted Vintage African Grey Crowned Crane Letter Opener came to me in 1988 from my late Aunt, who at the time was in the order of the Catholic Sisters of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Columbia, Pennsylvania. It came to her in 1966 when she and another Sister accompanied a third Sister to Uganda so that she could see to her late fathers estate. The letter opener is from that estate, as a thank you to my Aunt. I have no idea how much older than 1966 this opener might be.
Measuring 6 6/8” long and 1/2” wide it is hand carved out of horn (I don't know which animal) to simulate the graceful national bird of Uganda, the African Grey Crowned Crane. Its head tilted onto its chest shows off the crown, which is a pinkish piece of carved coral. (although my photos show it to be more red, it is actually a light pink) The wings are made of brass and and the bird is painted with dots of Red, Powder Blue, Dark Brown, Taupe, Navy and Black along both sides of the neck and both wings. On his back there are only dots of Red and Powder Blue, and there are also small brass tacks in between the colored dots on its neck and back. On his back silver colored wire inlay has been placed among the paint in a zig-zag pattern to form a diamond shaped effect, it's quite lovely.
On the blade it is marked with four symbols I do not understand and what looks like LFFA, or it could be a triangle at the end. It is one mm high and I almost didn't even see the lettering.
(see the last photo for the lettering on the blade)
Overall condition is Good Vintage. It has been used over the years and some of the deep brown coloring of the horn is beginning to turn lighter, the blade has a few marks on it and spots where the silver colored meal plating has warn away. However, I feel he still looks impressive sitting on a desk, and he still opens letters beautifully. Also only traces of his red waddle remain on his chest.
I would love to pass this interesting piece of African culture on to another pair of loving hands to be appreciated as I have over the years. I hope it will be with you.
Please see my return policy under “Terms of Sale” in the drop down boxes near this listing. Everything is returnable because Ruby Lane and I want you to be happy with your purchase.
FYI: The Grey Crowned Crane has been on the Ugandan National Flag continually at least as far back as 1914 when the country was a British Protectorate. Once numbering in the millions, today these Cranes are on the Endangered Species list as there are only between 26,500 to 33,500 of them estimated to be alive today.
Carefully wrapped and shipped to arrive in your hands as it left mine.
Vintage African Grey Crowned Crane Letter Opener from Uganda