Featured Need help dating carved ivory casket/box

Discussion in 'Antique Discussion' started by scoutshouse, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. kyratango

    kyratango Bug jewellery addiction!

    I didn't glue any ivory lately...
    My early attempts with superglue or wood glue didn't worked at all... and I hate epoxy!
    I'd be interested in uv curing resin, but that would be as difficult to remove as epoxy :facepalm:
    Jivvy and scoutshouse like this.
  2. 808 raver

    808 raver Well-Known Member

    UV glue kit isn't that expensive and dries clear. I've often glued bits of ivory back on wood and superglue is fine for that, they do a flexible glue 151 I think but wouldn't a rigid glue be best?
  3. evelyb30

    evelyb30 Well-Known Member

    I wonder if a jeweler's glue would work. I use E6000 for lots of stuff, but I've never messed with ivory.
  4. scoutshouse

    scoutshouse Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much for taking a closer look :) I agree it's... beautiful. Maybe down the line there's a way to attribute it to a specific carver? If, as you say, it's unique to Najina, being ivory and not Ebony it could be even more rare.

    I'm cleaning it myself, just to where it can be put back together

    BUT: REALLY need advice on rust encrusted lock and hinges?

    The most pressing problem is removing the hardware... I was able to remove the rust on the ivory, most notably below the lock, but it's now revealed a dark area - from moisture of dark metal behind. There were hints of it before, but now it's really pronounced. :(

    I wish I'd removed all the hardware 1st :(

    As far as adhesives to put it back together: I'm leaning toward hide glue. it can be reversed, as it's water soluble. Seems best if it can be reversed.

    I can absolutely clean this up, but it's probably going to need a better skill set than mine to really knock it out of the park - if it seems like a professional should step in, I'm ok with that :)

    Hey @808 raver - look what I found on the inner-net!

    Indian Ebony Carved Nagina cigarette box 1880c
    DSCF2295 (Medium).JPG
  5. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

  6. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

  7. 808 raver

    808 raver Well-Known Member

    I did a post on Nagina carving on here
  8. 808 raver

    808 raver Well-Known Member

  9. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

  10. scoutshouse

    scoutshouse Well-Known Member


    Thanks to everyone who checked in and provided info on origin and cleaning :)

    I've gotten most of the rust off - fortunately, the alarming bluish grey color around the lock had subsided. Apparently just moisture between the metal and ivory. There was already some old staining in that area, which can't be remedied without removing the hardware.


    Najina Ivory Box5.jpg

    My friend is a studio jeweler, and I'm hoping she has the tools and can supervise me releasing the lock and hinges. (nail-biting) Hinges are totally functional.

    @808 raver I see what looks like a thin whitewash on some areas... I was wondering if that was traditionally used to even out the color? (3 separate panels below)

    Najina Ivory Box2.jpg

    Screws do look like rusty steel, @808 raver. But, the rust that was on the front looked really fresh. Maybe? that means the rust isn't too severe below the surface.

    Najina Ivory Box3.jpg
    Glue removal - coming along :)
    Najina Ivory Box1.jpg

    Whew! Did I mention this thing weighs just under 2.5 pounds? Thanks again for all your help and have a great week :)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  11. cxgirl

    cxgirl Well-Known Member

    wow, it is looking great scoutshouse:) how did you remove the glue?
  12. scoutshouse

    scoutshouse Well-Known Member

    I read that hide glue could be set/reversed with wet heat 140 - 160 degrees.

    Repeated dunking in hot (not boiling) water softens it to a rubbery goop I could brush off, but not super cleanly or easily.

    Still experimenting, with lots to go. Below the top are 2 thin sheets of veneer with earlier repairs, making me wonder if I can put it all back together squarely :wideyed:

    Najina Ivory7.jpg

    Also looks like a chunk was harvested from a thicker panel to make those repairs. Interesting.

    Najina Ivory9.jpg
  13. KSW

    KSW Well-Known Member

    They are very knowledgeable on this Facebook site and they have files of information as to how to restore stuff including which glues to use etc. Worth a look.
    scoutshouse likes this.
  14. scoutshouse

    scoutshouse Well-Known Member

    Thanks @KSW

    Did you misplace a link :) ?
    kyratango likes this.
  15. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

    It's coming along well, @scoutshouse . You have a job ahead still, and I'm looking forward to seeing more progress!
  16. 808 raver

    808 raver Well-Known Member

    It's strange but I think one of my ivory boxes has the same thing going on, sorry but I don't know what was used or if it comes off. This is the box in question.
  17. scoutshouse

    scoutshouse Well-Known Member

    Nice, @808 raver !

    Appears to be a thin coat of whitened wax. Its waterproof, but scrapes off easily on the flat surfaces.

    Check out what I found on Bonham's

    Screenshot 2019-07-01 10.30.38.png
    Screenshot 2019-07-01 10.30.00.png

    I don't think mine's that old, but what do I know??

    A fine ivory veneered cabinet for the Portuguese market
    Ceylon, 17th Century

    Sold for £ 35,000 (US$ 44,273) inc. premium

    Islamic and Indian Art including Sikh Treasures and Arts of the Punjab
    23 Oct 2018, 11:00 BST

    London, New Bond Street

    17.8 x 25.5 x 19 cm.


    Finely carved ivory caskets produced in Ceylon during the Portuguese era in the 16th and 17th Centuries were highly sought after by Europeans. The Ceylonese workshops which specialised in ivory caskets, such as the present lot, produced their work in a style which assimilated traditional Sinhalese modes of decoration with those derived from European forms. Significant early examples of the type found their way into the collections of European royal and princely families related to the Portuguese Queen, Catherine of Austria. A related example in the Victoria and Albert Museum, known as the Robinson Casket was produced as a diplomatic gift to commemorate the King of Kotte's conversion to Christianity and the birth of an heir to the king of Portugal (see Anna Jackson and Amin Jaffer (edd.) Encounters, the Meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800, p. 86, no. 6. 10)


    Attached Files:

  18. 808 raver

    808 raver Well-Known Member

    Going by the tiny splitting and yellowing of the Bonhams piece I wouldn't date yours to the same period but going on the carving and construction they are almost the same. I am no expert on early ivory, when I valued your piece I did it thinking it was around 1860 with no outrageously exceptional quality (still very nice) but just slightly above average, if you had shown me the Bonhams piece I might have valued it 25% higher than I valued yours. What I'm trying to say is now would be a good time to make sure yours isn't 17thc and worth 10,000's. BTW I hope it is ;)
  19. scoutshouse

    scoutshouse Well-Known Member

    Any suggestions on contacts, most appreciated :)

    I found this article
    Sri Lankan Ivories for the Dutch and Portuguese
    by Alan Chong

    © 2019 · Historians of Netherlandish Art. ISSN: 1949-9833. All Rights Reserved.

    I'll email him and see if he's willing to voice an opinion.
    kyratango, Any Jewelry and cxgirl like this.
  20. scoutshouse

    scoutshouse Well-Known Member

    Sorry, my mistake: Here's what another Sotheby's piece looks like on the inside.

    A fine and rare ivory-veneered cabinet, Sri Lanka, 17th Century

    Screenshot 2019-07-01 12.48.36.png

    and full view below

    Screenshot 2019-07-01 13.07.55.png
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
    kyratango and Any Jewelry like this.
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