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Fossil Ivory

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In todays retail market, perhaps no natural material raises more questions than ivory. The Russian American Company in Sitka Alaska has been represents a stable of artists using only legal ivory (no elephant!), primarily fossil prehistoric mammoth ivory and prehistoric fossil walrus ivory.

Mammoth ivory is legal to possess in the US and nearly every other country, although there are restrictions in some states and countries on its sale. Native Alaskan tribal art and fossil remains of tools found indicate that mammoth ivory was a coveted material that has existed for thousands of years in Alaska. Today, dozens of Alaskan artisans use this naturally occurring fossil ivory to create their unique works of art, scrimshaw, or ivory jewelry. We are proud to represent some of the best; as well as offer rare whole mammoth tusk specimens and other mammoth ivory objects of art.

The wooly mammoth, (mammothus primigenius) roamed all of Alaska, as well as throughout North America and elsewhere around the world for nearly 2.5 million years, disappearing only upon the end of the last ice age around 10,000 years ago. Sharing Alaska's northern plains with other Pleistocene mammals, the tusks were sometimes preserved very well in our permafrost areas; and recent warming trends can expose them to observant users of the tundra, where they are mostly found by native villagers who then can sell them to artists or other brokers.  Other sources are from the gold miners of the Klondike and Yukon river areas, who while washing tons of earth and moving overburden to access bedrock, sometimes find a mammoth tusk, as rare and valuable as a gold nugget.

Northern Alaska native groups, commonly called eskimo, also have utilized ivory walrus tusk as a material for their art, as well as practical implements and tools, for thousands of years through today. As subsistence hunters, they hunt walrus for food, and have historically always utilized the entire animal, including salvaging the ivory tusks for carving, decorating, and more importantly as a material for practical use, such as spear points, ice axes, sled runners, fishing weights and lures, and even gaming pieces.

Today, only the indigenous tribes are allowed to craft and sell art from "contemporary" fresh white walrus ivory; but prehistoric fossil walrus tusk, found near traditional native villages along the arctic ocean coast, where it erodes out of the sea-cliffs and coastal sands where it has been deposited for thousands of years, is perfectly legal to find and possess. Four states ban the sale (but not the possession) of prehistoric ivory; as a part of their attempt to curb the trade in poached elephant ivory. Those states are California, New York, New Jersey and California. In Alaska, the sale of these fossil ivories is perfectly legal; and very important to the livelihood of our indigenous artists and craft peoples who find the ancient ivory near their villages, and create and produce these stunning works of art that we sell today.

Fossil walrus ivory can be distinguished easily by the coloration and mineralization that has occurred while underground for thousands of years. Some are almost black and "petrified"; while others exhibit unique greens and blue colorations from exposure to the elements in the soil. At any rate, a piece of art or ivory jewelry crafted from fossil walrus ivory, from a prehistoric tusk, is both a piece of history and a piece of art; a unique and rare gift or collectable that speaks of the traditional arctic ivory carvers of the far north.

Every serious art collector is searching always for something most rare, something most unique, and something authentic and unusual. For some it may be an Old Master oil painting, but for others equally important may be a hand-crafted mammoth ivory carving, a prehistoric fossil walrus ivory artifact, or a unique specimen of a fossil ivory tusk. We offer the best selection of fossil ivory jewelry, set in sterling, as well as unique one of a kind scrimshaw on fossil ivory, native Alaskan ivory carvings, ivory artifacts, custom knives with fossil ivory handles, and other legal ivory handicrafts. Consider adding one to your collection today!