Ivory does not only come from elephant tusks. Ivory can also be from other animals, such as walruses, hippopotamuses, or whales. There is also “vegetable ivory.” Some vegetable materials have a similar texture and density and look like ivory, but it is possible to see growth rings on a large piece of an elephant’s tusk. Some types of plastic look very much like ivory. Determining whether you have ivory or plastic may prove a problem. The standard test is to heat a needle red hot while holding it with pliers. Press the point of the needle into the bottom of the ivory piece. Plastic will melt, but ivory will not.

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