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Fine Art/Antique Elephant Ivory Tusk Asian


Ivory mark
Ivory mark  
QUESTION: I have an antique elephant ivory tusk that I think has been in the family for at least 100 years.  I would like to know what you think about its origin and value and perhaps even a suggestion as to the best way to sell it.  In fact I have two carved elephant ivories, but I am writing about the larger of the two since I have photos only of that one at the moment.  It is approximately 24 inches long and it is very heavy.  I appreciate your comments.  Since I can only send one photo, I will send the mark, and try to send the whole piece image separately.

ANSWER: Re; The Ivory.
This material is at the present time, not a really "PC" commodity.
Ivory is a present still used, but mainly in the Far East for the making of trinkets etc.
To make it quite clear from the beginning,as an affiliate of SITES in Geneva, we do not deal, or in any way use this material which is taken from illegal sources.
For the purpose of restoring objects at our restoration studio,we make certain that all of our materials are sourced through legal channels, i.e. conservation projects in Africa, and occasionally zoo's,after the animals have died of natural causes.
Legal matters.
Per definition,if you are unable to prove that the ivory pre-dates 1946, or posses legal
documentation which shows beyond doubt,the origins of the material,then you will in violation of US law and other International laws,with stiff penalties for trafficking, or an attempt at trafficking in endangered species.
Forensic tests can prove the age of ivory,within reasonable margins.
China and other countries in the Far East, are more liberal;or even indifferent to many International Conventions, take the issue of copyright; for example.
The marks.
These are Chinese 4.character of a very much-over stylealised zhuanshu script.
Generally speaking,marks mean very little and can be "faked" at any time.
I suggest, to get out of any possible predicament it would  be wise to take the ivory along to a museum of natural history. The experts there, will be able to give you a "yea" or
"nee" to your question regarding the age of the materials. Once that matter is cleared up, then you where you stand on any legal issues.
Personally,I would get that matter cleared up before I broached the subject of valuations and all thoughts about selling it.
Take care and very good luck with the search.
Ps; please leave some feedback if  you so feel inclined.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Whole Piece Front Image
Whole Piece Front Imag  
QUESTION: Thank you very much, it is good to know this is Chinese.  I am quite sure that this piece predates 1946.  It comes from the estate of a Washington DC socialite who lived in Japan for a time.  I actually was a docent at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and could have used those resources and my connection to show this to a curator, but, alas, I now live nearly 1000 miles away.  At first I thought this might be Shao Lao, the Star God of Longevity, because of the long beard and the large forehead, but the crown-like headdress and the sword really don't fit with that.  In his left hand is a towering pagoda structure, and that must be a clue, too.  Do you have any ideas as to who this figure represents?  A warrior emperor maybe?  It is 18 inches tall and weighs 6 pounds.  Thank you in advance for your consideration and assistance.

Good morning from a bright sunny and very humid, Royal Netherlands.
Having put all our heads together, here at our place of work; very briefly we are of the opinion that it is a late 19th century ivory carving, made for export.
In our opinion, it is one of the 8 immortals, called Lu Dong Bin, with amongst other things the the Gan-jiang attribute and also partly based on the Hong Lou Meng story of the Dream of the Red Chamber.( Freud, would have loved it and been completely bowled over).
A word of warning, grandpa's word carries little legal weight in a courtroom. An American gentleman has recently come badly unstuck, with regard to illegally possessing and transfering a Sperm Whales tooth....( souvenir???# He, is now in limbo and the whale tooth has been confiscated.
He now also faces both jail and stiff fines, for illegal possession.
So once again, I would strongly advise getting the provenance sorted out, at a museum of natural history.
It is not really worth the legal hassle and all the dealings with the many lawyers involved; or the ignominies attached to the wearing of "Federal Bracelets" #handcuffs).
Anyway, the correct provenance increases the monetary value, and it also makes any future sale go much more smoothly.
Auctions houses such as "Bonhams" "Christies" etc, are generally a good venue and also give good advice.
It is not worth a "Kings Ransom", but it will get you away on a short "Cruise" out of Lauderdale. Who knows, perhaps on a good might even have some change over for a cool and pleasant "Gin and Tonic" on the afterdeck, along with a trip to the "nail parlour" on board and also the taxi fare home again?
I leave to hold a lecture in Paris, so I will look forward to receiving your comments on Friday.
By the by, while in Paris I will also be meeting up with one of our suppliers of restoration materials.
I am looking for ivory, red coral, Mother of Pearl, sturgeons glue, amber, sring ray leather and tortoise shell.
All of these materials are on the list of endangered species, and therefore need to be sourced with great care; and 100% legally.
Luckily, many materials are still available 2nd hand, while others are not.
Not exactly what most people would expect, when planning a shopping trip to Paris.
I also need to buy a couple of new "rapier" blades for my depleting stock of fencing equipment - these are also classed as a weapon and also need due legal circumspection. Walking around the busy "Left Bank" of the city; while carrying holdall, filled with all sorts of "exotics" including an armful of steel tempered "fencing" blades all wrapped up in a brown paper bag with a bit of string; needs some due caution.!!!!
According to the modern day "weather immortals" it looks like that I may also need an umbrella, just to be on the safe side too.
Take care.
Please leave some comments, or feedback if you so feel inclined.  

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D. E. Lombardo


I am unable to answer enquiries concerning objects, which are NOT related to the areas of Fine Art and Antiques. Nor will I; on the sole basis of any photographic images be willing to give any definitive monetary valuations, or monetary opinions. In such cases I would always advise on getting “real time” valuations and opinions from reputable and qualified auction houses, or third parties. In some applicable cases, I may perhaps give general indications of value, based on the presented materials. True valuations always need a direct “hands on” approach, with perhaps also the necessary research and verifications. Broadly open to almost all questions, regarding the majority of both European, American quality objects, which are related to both Antiques and Fine Art. This also includes modern 20th century designer objects such as furniture etc. My own particular comfort zone areas would be; The decorative Arts, marble, stone, furniture, ivory, bone, amber, ceramics and porcelain, sculpture, glass, silver and metal objects etc. I will also answer inquiries, and give opinions concerning Dutch 17th, 18th and 19th century paintings. Please note that I do have limitations and cannot possibly answer all questions, as the field is very extensive. VERY IMPORTANT and PLEASE NOTE: Please note that; providing > GOOD CLEAR and Preferably High Resolution < photo's of the object(s)in question, is vital. Pics taken with a cell/mobile phone, are of a poor quality and best avoided. Posting signatures only, or just fragments of an artifact - will only provide me with insufficient information and it is often quite misleading. So please; Do post good clear overall images, with your question(s). Failing to do so, may cause rejection, which is also a great pity.


Since the early 90’s I lead a team of very enthusiastic staff at a business, where have the following disciplines; Restoration and refurbishment of historical buildings and gardens, including interior design. The restoration and care of Fine Art and Antiques at our restoration studio We are also Fine Art and Antique dealers, besides being collectors ourselves for a great number of years.

The main professional organization of which I am a member is the BNA, or Association of Dutch Architects, which is equivalent to the US; American Institute of Architects. Affiliated to the Art Loss Register in London and the International Cites Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

Villa Rufolo; The forgotten paradise on earth. Published by the University of Aarhus, Denmark Book reviews and articles for International Archis Magazine, in the Netherlands.

Since I wished to become a Restoration Architect, firstly I took my BA degree in Art History. Then after graduation, I followed this immediately by studies to graduate and become a Restoration Architect. Ever since then, I have been an established Restoration Architect and Antiquarian. Since a great number of buildings are also inhabited by Fine Art fixtures and furnishings, I also became absorbed by all the artifacts, which go to fill them and not only the edifices themselves. This and much more, was the reason for gaining an advisory post on the City Commission; For The Protection and Care of Historic Monuments of Amsterdam - Amstelveen.

Awards and Honors
Citations and gratitude; “From the Town of Amalfi” for the groundwork achieved in order bring back the Historical past to the Medieval Villa Rufolo and its vital role in the region. BA in Art Hisory. Graduation Diploma as an Architect & Antiquarian; and also practicing as such. I have also completed a 3 year course in antiques, at the VHOK in Amsterdam VHOK is translated as; ( "The Association of Fine Art Dealers In The Netherlands.")

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