Merchandise made from woolly mammoth remains


Originally published at:


“4,000 years old? Don’t you have any hair that’s fresher?”



Somewhere I have a small piece of mammoth ivory that a violin bow maker gave me. He made replica baroque bows and while using elephant ivory was a no-go apparently mammoth ivory is relatively plentiful and inexpensive.


I was in Newport last week, and was surprised to see how much surplus ivory and bone from whales, mammoths, and walrus was available for small crafts like scrimshaw.

Laws vary from material to material, but apparently even elephant was legal so long as it was imported to the U.S. before some date, or collected within the U.S. before 1989. (Apparently there were a few years where U.S. zoos were allowed to sell ivory from naturally-deceased elephants to pay for preservation programs.)

It was the kits for amateurs that seemed really weird to me. Really? There are never going to be any more of these, but we’ll let anyone who wants try their hand at working it for $12?


No jerky?


It was a jewelery store specializing in scrimshaw, not a one-stop used animal parts emporium. For that, I’d try Dallas.


The laws regarding the use of ivory have gotten really complex over the last decade or so, and are biting a lot of people in the butt. Most of the ivory currently available in the US, no matter the source, is considered illegal to resell because of the US not wanting to aid and abet the illegal ivory poaching trade. This makes it very hard on people who have bought or inherited antiques containing ivory unless they have a continuous pedigree for the item dating back before the turn of the century. Otherwise, they are stuck with items that cannot be legally resold or traded. I found this out while researching legal ways to sell an ivory tusk bought back in the 60s, and finding that current laws make it next to impossible to do it legally.


Here’s one I’ve wanted for awhile:


I can buy a fossilized mammoth skeleton for $400K?!?! Uh, WHERE?!


There is also a black market where Elephant ivory is modern, but fake paper work to make it appear older. It is a growing problem thanks to the growing upper and middle class in China and how much of a status symbol ivory is.



Mammoth bone and teeth aren’t very rare. Handled a few teeth in my time working at a museum for prehistory. Fossilized bones and especially the teeth are very brittle though. So while the material itself isn’t something special a whole teeth in good condition isn’t as easy to acquire as a few brittle fragments.


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