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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am no ivory expert. I have over time been able to learn a little about ivory. Over the next few days I will attempt to relate some of what I have learned. My passions are historical weapons, their use, African hunting and smithing so it has been a good basis for research on the subject.

Let me preference this material with a comment. Elephant populations are more stable now than they have been in over 70 years. Yes the populations have declined. The ivory you buy today is NOT killing another elephant! In the very near future ivory will not be available to us as consumers because the deminished stock piles.

Ivory had been used since ancient times for the handles of all weapons. As the pistol became the prefered personal weapon, ivory followed and became the most sought after grip materials. It still is for many.

I will only talk about elephant ivory since it is the most common. Ivory is a hard bone material. It is easy to carve and easy to finish. It has a warm feeling to the touch and is very durable. Think of the material as you do your own teeth. When you grind on ivory you'd swear you were in the dentist chair.

In 1964 ivory sold for $30 a pound in Kenya. By the 1970's the price had escalated to $225 per pound. At the height of ivory sales in Central Africa the price had gone to $650+ per pound.

In 1989 the CITIES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) ban on ivory trade included the biggest end users of ivory, U.S.A, Japan and the European Community.

By 1990 ivory had fallen toless than $5. per pound in Cental Africa.

The only ivory imported into the USA since 1989 has been a very small amount of legal, sport hunted, trophy ivory. It has very little, if any, influence on the current commercial market

A typical set of 1911 grips weighs in at 2oz. I would venture to think it takes 8 oz or so of ivory to make a set of 1911 grips. Average cost today...$200 for a finished set of grips.

The ivory available to US consumers is very limited. The prices will continue to escalate with time and the scarity of the resourse.

I will try to give you some does and don't about ivory, samples and comments on the current makers, fake verses real ivory and some photos of ivory grips that I appreciate.

 

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mayoknives.com Check this site for ivory grips. Tom is very reliable and honest, doing good work. His ivory comes from the pre ivory ban days. Also has almost any other exotic grip material you may want for your 1911.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: a1acp on 2001-08-29 14:04 ]</font>
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ALL LEGAL ivory currently in the US comes from before the CITIES ban in 1989. The rare eception is tagged, and legally shot, sport hunting ivory, which seldom ends up in the commercial trade.

Possesion of illegal ivory can be a felony BTW in the USA and much worse in some African countries.

OK since you have some back ground you want to know what the deal is on ivory?

The difference between great ivory and a pair od gunshow slabs?

Details! It is ALWAYS the details.

Take any two good ivory cutters and they will tell you different stories on how a grip should fit. I'll give you my 2 cents from shooting and maintaince on them in another post.

But what you are looking for is a thin grip, .25" or less. Don't let some maker tell you it is too thin. It is orginal Colt spec after all. Then the bushing cuts have to be perfect as do the screw inlets. The back of the panel needs to be flat, and again, PERFECT to ride on the frame correctly. The width of the grip needs to flush butt up against the grip contour in the front and close in the back. The edge of the grip should be very thin...but not so thin as to chip.

Tough call on the maker's part. The relief cut for the plunger tube should also add support to the plunger tube as per mil spec.

Medallion relief cuts should go all the way through the ivory to allow for swelling and shrinkage. Medallions can be inset..most common and most fragile, or flush mounted on the grip...where it protects the ivory from being chipped.

Easiest way to tell if what you bought is a good set..try them on a Colt frame... You don't want to have to snap them on, but they shouldn't just drop on without touching either. Both extremes will break the grips under carry and shooting conditions.

Good luck!

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-08-29 15:54 ]</font>
 

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Dane, I bought my first set of grips from Nutmeg Sports, the only set I currently own and there installed on a series 70 GM. They look, feel great and add that certain pazazz to an already good looking gun. A pistol that has been hardchromed wearing ivory really gets me going!!!! WOW
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Shay, I think the ivory goes well with your shade of lip stick and eye shadow. Hadn't seen you in your fur coat yet! You, devil, you! Does your wife know Bubba :grin:

John, .23" or .24" is a very thin ivory grip...a typical Hogue panel is .245/.250.", which is the "thinnest" of the *standard* production grips. If that makes any sense :roll: Most guys have a fit getting to .25" in ivory and consider that THIN which is BS.

The problem is you need to leave a flat edge on the panel to avoid chipping on the edges. So just below .24" is pretty much the limit I am told and agree with for wear and durability.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-08-30 14:57 ]</font>
 

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This is not the best picture on earth but this is a set of "bark" or "surface" elephant ivory I have had for about 4 years.

There is a little yellow in it from my hand.






I do not have a great amount of knowledge on ivory but I have heard or been told there is quite a bit of mastadon ivory being passed off as elephant ivory and mastadon so please check.

Maybe someone else can elaberate on the "pitfalls" of the mastadon ivory. Although it mastadon can make an attractive grip I have heard it is not as durable and has or can crack with little stress.

_________________
Be safe and keep the brass flying,
Terry Peters formerly known as PT-Partners
http://www.pt-partners.com

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Terry Peters on 2001-09-08 01:06 ]</font>
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Care of ivory? I have heard a number of things. Seen the end result of treating ivory like was suggested for years. I think most of the suggestions are bunk.

Here is my two cents having ivory for almost 10 years now (which is nothing time wise and seen much more) so take it for what it is worth.

Ivory is like your teeth. It doesn't like real cold or real heat. It will shrink and expand, loss of water causes it to crack. So will pressure and a violent jar. I would NOT use ivory for a 1000rd shooting session. (listen up Dave :wink: I would carry ivory. I don't use mineral or baby oil on it. I will keep it clean and NOT use harsh soap to keep it that way. Baby shampoo? Yes. Dish washing soap? No. Doesn't hurt to clean it in some luke warm water. Cleaner you keep it, the better off you are. Anything your teeth would not like, ivory is going to hate...afterall it has nothing to help it out. Ivory is DEAD.

Mastadon ivory? It is really dead! It starts drying out the day it comes out of the tundra. Or it is either petrified..IE "rock" or just REALLY old elephant ivory. Two different types. I don't want either. Rock ivory (petrified)is too cold to the touch (ivories fort'e IMO) and mastadon is just old and very aged ivory. Of course it will be brittle. (just like us old farts Terry) Stick to Elephant, it should last that 10K years the mastadon did, but you can get some use out of the first couple hundred, when it should be the most durable :grin:

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-09-08 01:30 ]</font>
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I hope we can eliminate some of the confusion on ivory. Ivory grips have a long tradition in fine firearms. We (our generation) will be some of the last that will enjoy it at the level we can at the moment I suspect.

Ivory for sale? Always :grin:
 

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Thanks Dane. Yes, I did get my AARP membership request in the mail the other day.

That seems to be the only thing (junk) getting through in shipping and mail these days.
 

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As far as care goes, those of us with pianos that have ivory keys may be able to contribute.

The usual regimen is to wipe off with a damp rag or a rag moistened with a weak concentration of ivory soap. You can't get grubby hand oils off of piano keys without using just a little soap. Probably would do the same thing on grips.

Don't use a harsh detergent.

My personal unsubstantiated theory is that the ivory probably benefits from a little of the oil from our skin. Just not a big buildup of it.
 

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Dane,

Where can you get a set of custom Ivory grips for $200? I have a 1911 that would love a pair and my wife's BCP Casper the Friendly Ghost would like some as well.
 
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