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Posted: 8/13/2017 10:47:11 PM EDT
Well, not me specifically. I work at a small placer (gold) mine near Fairbanks, Alaska, and we occasionally find mammoth tusks and bones. This nine foot long tusk was found by a coworker:
Attachment Attached File
That's your's truly hefting all 87 pounds of it. No joke, it came out of the ground at 87 pounds, so I figured it must be a sign, and I spoke to my boss about purchasing it. Tusks found on private property are legal to own, but are worth an awful lot of money. We agreed on a price, and I scraped together the sum. It may not look like much now, but once it's preserved and polished up, a tusk like this can be worth a small fortune.

This thread will cover the first part of the preservation process, and I'll write about the rest after it has cured.

First of all, there is essentially zero chance of finding this tusk's mate. The ground we work often has many tusks in it, but all from different animals. This is due to erosion and flooding thousands of years ago. The animals died at a higher elevation, and water carried and scattered the bones and tusks, before eventually burying them some 40-60 feet below the surface. The tusks are found at the level of the gravel, and are covered entirely with mud and silt, and long dead vegitation. This ground then froze, became permafrost, and has remained frozen year round, until we come through with heavy equipment.

Due to the equipment we use to mine, many of the tusks we find are broken, split, or splintered by the time we see them. Likely, there's a vast many tusks we never see, that get carried away by the trucks and re-buried. But the ones we do find are usually damaged. Part of the reason this particular tusk caught my eye, besides being ARF-weight, was the lack of damage, and the beautiful curl. After seeing many tusks, you can sort of recognize what animal they were part of. This one, being of a tighter curl, yet girthy and heavy, is most likely from a mature female. Mature bulls will have a broader curve, and be heavier yet, and younger animals have more slender and straighter tusks. Very cool to see.

I've not worked with ivory or fossils before, so I did several hours of research, and spoke with a local old timer who has been carving ivory for some forty years. The biggest thing is to minimize water evaporation, and slow the drying process to a crawl. The tusks will develop small cracks along their length as they dry, and it's important to keep them squeezed together while they do this. So the first step is to clamp it tight with hose clamps:Attachment Attached File

I ran out at this point, and had to run to town for more. Many hose clamps later:Attachment Attached File

The tusk had been losing water to our dry air for about two weeks at this point, and had a pretty good differential between the dry exterior, and the moist interior, that I was worried would cause further damage as it dried. So I soaked a big pile of burlap in water, wrung out the excess, wrapped the tusk in several layers of the damp burlap, and tied it with twine. Then I wrapped it entirely with cling wrap, to slow evaporation down to a minimum. Attachment Attached File

This is as far as I go for now. I'll have to wait patiently for the tusk to dry completely before I can clean it up and preserve it. Preservation will be done with a solvent soluble plastic resin. This is the process museums use, because it is entirely reversible. The solvent carries the resin deep within the object, stabilizing it, but if for any reason needs to be undone, the resin can be washed right back out with more solvent. I don't expect to get to this point any earlier than next summer or fall. At that point, I'll start a new thread covering my work.

ETA: Here's a picture of the bark after being wetted down. The water brings out the colors, much like how it will look after being preserved and polished. Attachment Attached File

ETA2: DirtDoctor, my coworker, added some great pictures of more tusks, bottom of page 6.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:48:35 PM EDT
Cool stuff!
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:48:42 PM EDT
Cool! In for the updates.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:49:32 PM EDT
Awesome find and score.

I'll watch for further progress, good luck with it. I'd love to find one of those too.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:50:24 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:50:45 PM EDT
sweet! wanna make me some 1911 grips with it? help regain almost a tiny bit of what i"m sure you invested.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:50:58 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:51:07 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:52:07 PM EDT
One of the coolest ARF threads ever....

Please keep us updated.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:52:34 PM EDT
Very cool.  So jealous of you Alaskans.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:53:03 PM EDT
That's pretty gnarly
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:53:21 PM EDT
Cool find! Subscribed.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:53:28 PM EDT
Care to disclose what you paid for it?
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:54:39 PM EDT
Cut off a chunk and make yourself some nice 1911 grips 
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:54:51 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:55:00 PM EDT
So what was the number?
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:55:08 PM EDT
So cool
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:55:19 PM EDT
way cool.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:55:37 PM EDT
This is a cool thread, and a prime example of why arfcom is awesome!

Tagging this one, keep us updated OP!
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:55:40 PM EDT
What depth was this one fouund?
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:55:53 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
sweet! wanna make me some 1911 grips with it? help regain almost a tiny bit of what i"m sure you invested.
View Quote
Me too
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:56:27 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:56:32 PM EDT
Those can go for up to $400 a pound!
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:57:03 PM EDT

Awesome !
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:57:08 PM EDT
I miss Fairbanks.  Can't wait to get beach home!
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:57:33 PM EDT
You rich bitch!!!!!!

That is fucking awesome.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:57:46 PM EDT

Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:57:54 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Those can go for up to $400 a pound!
View Quote
Times, of course, 87!  

Beautiful tusk too.  Nice full curl.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 10:58:42 PM EDT
Dang,  that's pretty cool!!

I have a coons dick somewhere in a drawer. Want to see it.?

Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:00:13 PM EDT
Very cool!!!
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:00:34 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:02:43 PM EDT
Sweet. I thought I read somewhere you can't collect them from public or res lands.

Underground mine? 
Year round? 
Hiring cdl or articulated truck drivers? 
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:04:06 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
sweet! wanna make me some 1911 grips with it? help regain almost a tiny bit of what i"m sure you invested.
View Quote
I've got some smaller chunks of mammoth ivory stashed away for just that purpose! I'd like to build a 1911 to put the grips on, but that's gonna have to wait a while. No time right now.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:04:35 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History

View Quote
Sorry, good things take time!
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:07:05 PM EDT
Very  cool. The wife and I found some fossilized bison and camel teeth and bones while gold mining this summer in AK.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:07:23 PM EDT
Good project OP!

Good luck OP!
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:08:08 PM EDT
Way cool!   You gonna tell us how much $$$ it cost you?
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:08:15 PM EDT
It belongs in a museum!
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:08:24 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:09:20 PM EDT
Spends 500 grand on hose clamps
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:09:28 PM EDT
I was affraid this was a Todd Hoffman season saver. Glad to be wrong.
Very cool find.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:09:53 PM EDT
Greatest thread in a while.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:10:04 PM EDT
Amazing thread. As a geologist, I give my stamp of approval.

Going to have it radio-carbon dated? I'm thinking between 15 Kya to 50-ish. Let us know.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:10:09 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:10:21 PM EDT
... that's pretty cool!
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:10:35 PM EDT
Pretty cool. Subscribing to this.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:11:37 PM EDT
Dude. I am sofa king in. This is going to be a great thread.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:11:54 PM EDT
stabilize it, and sell it for an easy $200 per set of grips for a 45 acp, or similar sized knife grip scales....easy.  You probably wind up with more than you could get in a long bit of gold mining.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:12:14 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Care to disclose what you paid for it?
View Quote
This.   We need to know the insiders wholesale cost of Tusk.  

Or at least tell us how many hours of Servitude it equates to.

Thanks for posting.   It's a cool story indeed.  

It seems to me, that you could make a good living finishing those fragments and selling them as blanks for knife handles and pistol grips.
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:14:08 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/13/2017 11:15:09 PM EDT
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