As I mentioned in my last post, the term, ‘ivory’, also includes tusks and teeth from other mammals. Man has used teeth for decorative items for centuries, particularly as they were by easily obtained byproducts of hunting, originally for food then for entertainment as well. Boars, hippopotamuses and various members of the whale family have tusks that have been carved and turned into objects like icons, scrimshaw, statues and, in the case of the hippopotamus, false teeth. Some Victorians created necklaces of deer and tiger teeth set in gold.
Bone has also been used for decorative objects and this is still the case today. Cattle bones in particular are easy to obtain as are sheep bones. Bone is hollow so the way it is used differs from ivory. It is usually carved into small and flat items, sliced into rings, used as inlay or turned on a lathe into small boxes. Antlers are a type of bone but are usually not hollow. Reindeer, moose and other deer species shed their antlers seasonally.
Horn, like bones, is easily attainable and has been used decoratively for thousands of years. It has been used for eating utensils, such as spoons and cups, handles, buttons and walking stick handles. Magnificent jewellery made from horn became a feature of the art nouveau period. Some of Rene Lalique’s pieces, for example, are superb as are those of Henri Vever.