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"Aged" ivory

Discussions and analysis of Elephant Ivory
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DSW90049
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Postby DSW90049 » Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:21 pm

Freda said: "David, sometimes those techniques are genuinely used by Japanese carvers to stain and colour the piece, not to age them. Sometimes all isn't what it seems. More of the uncertainty principle abounding, eh?"

Most assuredly so . . . .Image

I understand that some techniques, like using incense smoke, are used by modern carvers - I believe the Bushell/Masatoshi book explains some of the tricks of the trade doing that. My point about the 19thC magazines was simply that there is nothing new about using techniques to change the appearance of ivory - sometimes for the good, sometimes for the not-so-good.
"There is no shortcut to netsuke collecting; it takes time, study and patience. The market is flooded with utterly worthless rubbish. . . . "
Netsukes: Their Makers, Use and Meaning, H. Seymour Trower(1898)~~~~David

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Vlad
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Postby Vlad » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:11 am

lub41 wrote:Vlad...some additional observation: in my pc. there is evident staining but basically the patina and ivory color is old. In your pc. maybe for the photo
lighting the ivory colour is so white, you confirm? normally such absolute white
is result of some cleaning process, but the patina is old as well and warm...
I'm confuse.


Actually, Luigi, the highest quality elephant ivory, which is closer to the core and to the tip of the tusk, the so called bachi-tori, marumuku and marusaki parts, unless painted or stained, remain white for centuries. It's the outer layers of the task and the ones closer to the base (gara) that mainly absorb dirt and natural staining over the years.
Here are two netsuke, both attributed to the 18th century, where, if you ignore the black coloring of the deeper lines, the ivory on the front (inner side) remained perfectly white, while the outer part has accumulated a lot of natural staining instead.

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"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

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Vlad
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Postby Vlad » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:42 am

Outer layers are also more likely to get those small superficial parallel cracks with age because of being softer and more porous.

In fact, the discrepancy between the white-gray color of the "younger" and the higher quality readily avaialble then ivory, used to carve a piece, and the extensive cracking, which in addition to the quite specific type of web-like cracks suggests a possible later alteration with the purpose of deceiving.

It will be not that easy to distinguish those signs on a stained ivory piece, though.
Here is a seal treated similarly to the one in the first post, but heavily stained to create an additional age impression.

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"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

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NetsukeManiac
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Postby NetsukeManiac » Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:21 am

This is all very interesting stuff. Vlad, have you considered the possibility of publishing an article on this subject? This sort of study could be very helpful in the area of dating a piece.

SC

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Vlad
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Postby Vlad » Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:05 am

Unfortunately this type of research, which is based on analysis of information from multiple Internet sources rather then on personal experiments, is practically impossible to publish in the INSJ these days.
The Journal simply does not accept illustrations from the Internet referring to the copyright legislation (hardly applicable to the educational materials coming from a non-profit organization in my professional experience), while this is where most of the new data received over the period of at least past 10 years is presented.
I already have a couple of finished research projects heavy with illustrations and materials received through the Internet in cue...:roll:

Our Forum seems to be the only viable alternative for this type of knowledge exchange.
"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

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LUBlub
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Postby LUBlub » Fri Aug 24, 2012 7:42 am

Vlad wrote:Outer layers are also more likely to get those small superficial parallel cracks with age because of being softer and more porous.......

It will be not that easy to distinguish those signs on a stained ivory piece, though.
Here is a seal treated similarly to the one in the first post, but heavily stained to create an additional age impression.


Vlad...have you considered that ivory with more than 100 years old (please see genuine antique cinese pcs.) are of brownish colour? and if not accurately treasured and protected against temperature changes and sun direct light produce cracks...probably in the netsuke case some carvers
have stained (as well in cina) to add some "additional old value" but many pcs. are genuinely dark in the ivory coloration result of time and use (and pollution)...yes, the core of the best ivory quality is pure white, but nevertheless considering is a biological material I believe is subject like all others biological elements at the time deterioration process, in first line the colouring...I'm extremely interesting to read opinions of Clive and Ducros...
your seal have similar colour with this cinese pc. "scorched" by manipulating and time, not stained not heated, aprox. 150 years old (estimated)..same ivory colour you can see in african figures older than 100 years, which in african art is considered "very antique"...this subject is subordinated more at technical analysis from the experts than my personal feelings....

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Excellence in netsuke art don't need signature or pedigree, or age, only quality, aesthetics, beauty.

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Vlad
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Postby Vlad » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:57 am

I am sorry, Luigi. I said all I've learned to date on this subject, I am afraid. Chinese pieces similar to the one you have shown above, are currently sold on live auctions across the US in numbers and do not normally generate more than $200-300 a piece.

I don't believe there is someone to claim being there 150 years ago to witness any of them being produced...
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"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

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LUBlub
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Postby LUBlub » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:10 pm

Tks Vlad for your efforts to clarify this ambiguous and often elusive subject,
specially when we face the netsuke pcs.
As I wrote, and include some of your last pcs. published, who is in condition to assert which one is really old or manipulated to convert in old?
Experts? laboratory?
Yes, it is an ambiguous field to discussion.
Excellence in netsuke art don't need signature or pedigree, or age, only quality, aesthetics, beauty.

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Vlad
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Postby Vlad » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:19 pm

Fully agree, Luigi! And here is one of what I consider being of the same age, but not "pre-treated" for comparison.
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"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

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Vlad
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Postby Vlad » Sun Aug 26, 2012 12:49 pm

Oh, an for those, who might've missed my little article on some findings when in China in the INSJ last year, here is some of what it said:
"I've made another interesting observation during my visit to the National Museum in Beijing. They have a whole floor dedicated to an expositionof Chinese seals, where the best representations of seals from B.C. to our days are displayed. Most of them, as expected, were made from stone, metal or jade.

Only four seals in those displays were carved of ivory, all in 17th-19th century..."

And this is how the naturally aged and handled ivory pieces should look...
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"Man sieht nur, was man weiß" - "One sees only what one knows". Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)


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