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Scrimshaw cufflinks

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I received a pair of schrimshaw cufflinks, carved into Japanese figurines. They have sterling silver hardware. Very unusual, as far as I know and I'd like to find out more about this style -- was it popular, where can I find more. Anyone else familiar with them?

post #2 of 9
Any chance of better photos? They look much like the Japanese netsuke and other small bone/whalebone/ivory carved figurines (okimono) and other objects. That they have sterling fittings is a decidedly good sign. Any hallmarks on the silver? Two words of caution: In practice, the only certain way to distingish between real bone/ivory and the very good plastic resin imitations, is to scrape a shavings from the object, somewhere it doesn't show, and set fire to it. If it smells like burnt plastic, you'll know it's a fake, if it smells more akin to burnt hair/dentist's office, it's at least bone.
Quote:
The biggest worry facing a newcomer is the abundance of fakes that exist. Clever but crooked souls are doing nicely out of plastic resin copies made from molds which faithfully reproduce not only color and weight, but also the most intricate of carving, and even the cracks that appear only with age. The expert can spot them just by touch: ivory feels cold, plastic does not. The novice should employ an equally simple, though somewhat more drastic test: heat a pin to red hot and give the suspect piece a prod. Plastic melts, ivory does not, so pick a hidden spot such as the base. Failing that, buy only from reputable sources where a guarantee is freely given, either in conditions of business or on paper. Buyers should also be wary of falling foul of the regulations covering the trade in ivory drawn up by CITES (the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna). All import, export and re-export of ivory must be authorized through a licensing system. The sale of ivory carved 100 or more years ago remains legal, but legal ivory is indistinguishable from illegal ivory. Always get a written statement from the seller that clearly states the ivory sold is not restricted; although it is worth remembering that reputable dealers are not going to risk the considerable fines and effect on their business by handling ivory of doubtful origin.
Also, if this is very traditionally made, they normally used a fish-based glue to hold things together. This glue will disintegrate. Nantucket Red, Skalogre and several others on the forum are very knowledgeable about Japanese cultural history - they might be able to contribute.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your response. I'm at work now, but will check the hallmark and take better photos later when I'm home.
post #4 of 9
I like those, though I was expecting more of this:


I would enjoy having both styles.
post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willsw View Post
I like those, though I was expecting more of this:


I would enjoy having both styles.

I picked up a pair in Maui like this a few weeks ago
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirk diggler View Post
I picked up a pair in Maui like this a few weeks ago
A bit like these? Scrimshaw is most often thought of as the result of a process of scraping or engraving decoration on to a piece of bone, and then coloured in with lamp soot or the like. A couple of other Japanese ones:
post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky Strike View Post
A bit like these?



Scrimshaw is most often thought of as the result of a process of scraping or engraving decoration on to a piece of bone, and then coloured in with lamp soot or the like.

A couple of other Japanese ones:

Those are freakin beautiful
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Gentlemen: Upon closer inspection, using the ample suggestion provided above, I'm pretty sure these are plastic replicas that someone gave silver mechanicals -- one is even put on wrong, perpendicular to its counterpart. Thank you for the beautiful examples and the helpful discussion.
post #9 of 9
very nice
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