Elephant tusks (2), ivory, India, date unknown
Ivory teeth are formed of an enamel crown laid over the body of the tooth which is made up of dentine. The formation of some teeth is exceptionally specialised and in the case of the walrus and the elephant grow so big they are referred to as tusks. These are composed almost entirely of dentine capped with enamel.
Ivory has been highly prized as a raw material in many cultures and the ivory trade in Europe was established during the expansion of the Roman Empire. When its borders reached the fringes of the Orient African and Indian elephant ivory began to appear in Europe in small quantities. However it was during the Carolingian Dynasty that elephant ivory appeared in greater volume in Northern Europe. This ivory was generally carved into religious items such as crosiers (heads of bishop's staves) and reliquaries.
These tusks were early Museum acquisitions. It is likely that they were acquired between 1885 and 1905 and were used as examples of the raw material from which ivory carvings were made.
West, J., Credland, G., 'Scrimshaw: The Art of the Whaler', Hutton Press, Yorkshire, England, 1995
McClelland Gallery, 'Scrimshaw the Sailor's Art', McClelland Gallery, Victoria, Australia, 1986
MacGregor, A., 'Bone, Antler, Ivory and Horn: the technology of skeletal materials since the Roman period', Barnes and Noble Books, New Jersey, 1985.
Mossman, S., (ed.), Early Plastics; perspectives, 1850-1950, Leicester University Press, London, 1997
Penfold, A. R., 'Penfold reports from London', in Cooper, R. B., (ed), 'Australian Plastics', Vol1, No. 4, 1945
Mossman, S., Morris, P. J. T., (eds.), 'The Development of Plastics', Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, 1993
Geoff Barker, March, 2007