Antique Gambling Chips & Gambling Memorabilia Web Site
HOW TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN (1) BONE, (2) IVORY, AND (3) CELLULOID ("FRENCH IVORY," A PLASTIC)
I am amused the way flea market and antique dealers
often misrepresent (intentionally or not) the material of objects. If
a thing is white plastic or bone, it is often called "ivory." (If
it is colored plastic [or just about anything], it is often called "bakelite."
Click here for
someone's page about testing for bakelite. Click here
for my catalin/bakelite page.) I created this page as an aid
to those interested in identifying bone, ivory and celluloid. ...
....... Click here
for another good source on this subject.
(1) BONE CHIPS/COUNTERS
(2) IVORY POKER CHIPS
Many ivory chips do not show the ivory grain and nerve spot as conspicuously as this one.
This chip is part of my wonderful set of ivories originally made for, and owned by, the fabulously wealthy industrialist and philanthropist P.A.B. Widener (1834-1915).
He kept it on his 225-foot yacht "Josephine," named after his wife. Full story and pictures here.
(3) CELLULOID (PLASTIC) CHIP AND DICE
|Recently some "ivory poker
chips" have appeared that were recently scrimshawed -- made to look
like antique ivory chips. One fake is shown above -- the top chip
is easy to identify by the jerky scrimshaw lines which were made by a laser.
A real old ivory chip is below it. I thank Richard Hanover for this
picture and the information. Rich says, "Each stroke that is carved
by hand starts with a blunt entry cut. The end of the curve is feathered
to a point as the steel leaves the ivory. Also, a hand carved lline is continuous.
The repro looks etched (scratched) or lasered. ... ....The sad part is
the the seller has plenty of buyers all thinking that they are getting
something they are not. " Others have said: "It sure doesn't look engraved
by hand. Looks more like it was blasted by a laser or even sandblasted.
The cuts aren't smooth and continuous like I'd expect from hand engraving.
... ... .... It is nice to see a close up of the line work. I am still not
covinced it is elephant tusk ivoy (as most all ivory chips from the 1800's
were elephant). With the look of straight bone pore lines in the new carving
chip, it looks like it might be walrus tusk to me."
There are other factors too in the difference between old antiue scrimshawed ivory and the modern fakes: "Tusks used to make antique ivory chips were crosscut. All of the modern repros being produced were cut lengthwise or "ripped" in order to make as many blanks as possible." And some have suggested that the rippled effect in the fakes, which are often recently scrimshawed on old blank ivory, it that the old blank ivory is 10 times harder than when originally taken form the elephant, so when scrimshawed today causes the brittle point of contact as seen in the picture above.
Rich also made these comments regarding current machined ivory chips as opposed to the old-fashioned carved ones: "A carved line will begin blunt, where the knife enters the ivory, but end in a fine point, where the knife leaves the ivory. Also, the design, being carved by hand, will not be perfect. "A machined "scrimshaw" will fail on both points listed above. A machine will begin and end a line with the same thickness. Also the symmetry will be perfect."
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