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Unidentified Material - Help Needed


jiminycrow

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Hi, I'm sorry to interrupt this forum slightly off topic, but I have a mystery I am dying to solve and this location seemed like a great place to start. I have a rather large sperm whale carving / sculpture (approx 13" length). It is quite heavy, and in my opinion feels heavier than wood. It's an eBay find and I guess I'm just trying to get a little more info on what it is I have.

 

See photos for reference. There's a signature (seemingly) on the rear fin which is "PMS" with the M in the form of an anchor, if that helps at all.

 

Thanks in advance,

J

 

3914747862_750ba0ba1c.jpg

 

3914747910_02b09c26e1.jpg

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By the look of it it can quite possibly be just that- a sperm whale carving. As in carved from a sperm whale bone, probably jaw. The bones vary from specimen to specimen, age, health and the actual spot where the bone is taken from also influencing the appearance of the bone. In any case, it's definitely some kind of bone, not wood.

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Hi,

Many of these "scrimshaw" pieces are cast plastic with fillers to add weight. Some of these fakes are difficult to spot because they are so well done. Take a red hot needle an push it into the piece (somewhere it will not be noticed). If the needle goes in and you smell burnt plastic it is a fake. If the needle has no effect it is ivory or whale bone.

Dick

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  • 2 months later...
also use black light if it is plastic or some kind of resin won't shine or change color ,bone or ivory tend to glow and look bright color ( fluorescence )and you have to see variation of colors because the grain of ivory or bone

What do you know, I have the same sperm whale carving as you. It must have been done by the same person. Mine is almost identical. I to am curious as to what its made of. Ive taken it to 2 dealers, and they both said it was ivory.

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That's what it most certainly isn't. Ivory is never pitted like that, any kind of it.

The only other material I can think of, other than whalebone, is oosic, but I have to say I never worked with it, so am only guessing from photos. (That's walrus penile bone. Yes, they have one.)

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That's what it most certainly isn't. Ivory is never pitted like that, any kind of it.

The only other material I can think of, other than whalebone, is oosic, but I have to say I never worked with it, so am only guessing from photos. (That's walrus penile bone. Yes, they have one.)

Wow, thank you for your information, very interesting. Any way of telling how old the piece could be?

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