Mammoth (Eletphas antiquus), an extinct fossil elephant. It differs little in anatomical structure from existing members of the same genus and, like them, was a large animal with a height of from nine to eleven feet. But it had a thick covering of dark-brown hair, and is known to have fed on the shoots of coniferous trees. Great numbers of mammoth skeletons have heen unearthed in Europe, but chiefly in North Siberia and on the Arctic coasts, where they have been preserved in the frozen soil. The tusks of the mammoth are sometimes more than ten feet long. In the south of Europe the mammoth was contemporaneous with cave man, and rude but spirited sketches of it have been found engraved on ivory.
Ivory, the name given to the variety of dentine composing the prolonged incisors or tusks of elephants. These teeth grow to a great site, single specimens sometimes weighing over two hundred pounds, and possess the peculiarity that they spring from permanent pulps, and continue to grow as long as the animal lives.
The price of Mammoth Ivory varies, the largest being the most valuable. At one time it was feared that the supply of Mammoth ivory would soon run out, but it appears that the native tribes store their Mammoth Ivory, and possess tho produce of centuries. They barter with the traders the so-called ‘dead’ ivory from the bottom of the pile, so that the ‘live’ ivory of elephants recently killed (which commands a higher price) forms but a small portion of the supply.
The uniformity and fineness of the texture of Mammoth Ivory, its mellow tints and delicate translucency, its very perfect elasticity, and the readiness with which it adapts itself to the carver’s art, are among the many valuable qualities that have for ages given it its unique position as a material for all sorts of articles, instruments, and ornaments. Many attempts have been made to find a satisfactory substitute for Mammoth ivory, but with only partial success. Celluloid, though a material in some respects even superior to ivory, serves but a limited purpose; and no substitute will take the peculiar polish of ivory. Vegetable ivory comes into commerce under the name of “corozo nuts”, the hard, white, potato-sized seeds of a palm-like tree that grows in the low hot valleys of the Andes. The “nuts” are used for buttons and small fancy articles of turnery.