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Thread: A sure test for ivory scales

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    Senior Member nessmuck's Avatar
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    Default A sure test for ivory scales

    I have a set of scales on a Joseph Rogers straight,and i "think" they are ivory,but not sure.I have sanded them and they dont smell like horn or bakelite.What else can i do?? thanks

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    Natty Boh dave5225's Avatar
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    Post a pic if you can . Ivory will be more rigid than celluloid/plastic , sometimes you can see the grain in it , it will not have pores like bone does , and if you look closely at the inside of the scales you may see little saw marks .
    Greetings , from Dundalk , Maryland . The place where normal people , fear to go .

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    It's Nice To Be Nice JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Most all ivory I've seen has a subtle grain to it. You may have to hold it at an angle to light to see it. The old ivory scales were usually thinner than celluloid scales and in many I've seen the pins didn't have ferrules/washers around them. I would say I 'know' ivory if I have it in hand. In photos I'm less sure.
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    Senior Member Theseus's Avatar
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    You can also use the old school pin test to check for ivory. Take a needle or straight pin and heat up the tip with a lighter. Then find an inconspicuous part of the scales and touch the hot pin to it. If it's plastic/celluloid it will start to melt. If it's ivory it will smell like burning hair. I would only use this test after all other avenues of identification come up empty.
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    Senior Member hi_bud_gl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theseus View Post
    You can also use the old school pin test to check for ivory. Take a needle or straight pin and heat up the tip with a lighter. Then find an inconspicuous part of the scales and touch the hot pin to it. If it's plastic/celluloid it will start to melt. If it's ivory it will smell like burning hair. I would only use this test after all other avenues of identification come up empty.
    This is exactly i would do. lets you know what it is.gl

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    Senior Member nessmuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theseus View Post
    You can also use the old school pin test to check for ivory. Take a needle or straight pin and heat up the tip with a lighter. Then find an inconspicuous part of the scales and touch the hot pin to it. If it's plastic/celluloid it will start to melt. If it's ivory it will smell like burning hair. I would only use this test after all other avenues of identification come up empty.
    will give it a go. Thanks

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    Senior Member dirtychrome's Avatar
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    In addition to above, often ivory is assembled with silver pins, no washers/collars. Along with metal wedge. Not a hard a fast rule, but a solid general observation.

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    all your razor are belong to us red96ta's Avatar
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    IMHO, there's no need to go poking it with a hot needle to check for it's material. More often than not, you can get that same smell just from hand polishing the scales....you're likely to do it anyway. Just start polishing until you build up a mild heat on your rag and then give the scales a sniff. Celluloid will have a chemical/camphor smell to it and ivory will not.
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    Senior Member Joe Edson's Avatar
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    Lightly clack the scales against your teeth. Ivory and bone scales make a distinct noise as compared to celluloid. Bone is easy to identify with it's darks spots and grain. Compare the sound to that of scales you know are celluloid and that should tell you as well.

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    Ivory is easy to determine. Real ivory has a distinctive appearance, grain and texture. It should be creamy-coloured or off-white, with a smooth grain to it. If it's perfectly smooth - it's celluloid. Don't be fooled. Real ivory feels a little gritty.

    Bone often has little pits and holes in it. Ivory won't have that. Real cleaned, polished ivory will be smooth but not completely so. I believe that somewhere (either here or at B&B) there was a thread which showed photographs of razors with ivory, bone and celluloid scales. As I can't find it, I'll do the next best thing...


    These scales are celluloid. Also called "French ivory".


    While they're not straight-razors, all these things here are made of ivory. As you can see, it's off-white in colour, but not the light-yellow custardy look of the razor above, with the celluloid scales.

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