Real Ivory grips, how to protect them?


Peter M. Eick
April 13, 2004, 08:56 PM
I recently purchased a gun with real ivory grips and I have not a clue how to take care and protect them. Any advice?

I took them off and look them over and from what I can tell on the internet they appear to be real ivory as the dealer said. The gun is a 1929 model and the grips although not factory, appear quite old. They were very well fitted to the frame.

They have no cracks right now, so I am not worried about that, and I intend upon using them till I can find correct period grips for the gun (which will likely take a while).

Thanks again for any advice.

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April 13, 2004, 09:54 PM
wax and a soft brush...I read years ago that's the museum curator's method...

4v50 Gary
April 13, 2004, 10:14 PM
Rennaisance Wax - developed by the British Museum and used by museums worldwide (had an objects conservator tell me this). Constant temperature & humidity. Use grips only for display & not for shooting.

Peter M. Eick
April 13, 2004, 10:22 PM
What if I am sort of stuck in that I have the gun and grips, but no alternates?

I am trying to chase down correct grips for a 1930 38-44 heavy duty but I would guess it will be a bit before I can find correct or even close pre-war N frame grips.

April 14, 2004, 06:03 PM
You are not sorta stuck, you are stuck. Do not use the ivory grips, they are irreplacible, as in if you ding them up you will never get another pair! Real ivory has a grain that runs through the entire piece. A sure test is to remove the grips and touch a red-hot paper clip to an inside surface. Real ivory will not melt.
The Rennaisance Wax idea is spot on. But it does not protect against handling wear. Apply it then look, don't touch.

Standing Wolf
April 14, 2004, 07:43 PM
You should be able to find pre-World War II Smith & Wesson N frame stocks and/or E-Bay if you're patient and persistent—or the Smith & Wesson forum, for that matter. I doubt they'll be cheap if they're in good condition, but they're not unheard of.

For actual shooting, I've been happy with:

Peter M. Eick
April 14, 2004, 09:53 PM
Looking at them again, I am convinced they are real ivory. I would guess from the color that they are pretty darn old and were put on the guns prior to WWII but again I am guessing. Compared to more modern ivory pictures you can find on the web, these have more creaminess and smoothness but still have a very distinct grain.

I have not tried the hot pin or hot paperclip, but next time I take them off I will give that a try.

I will post a search for correct grips. Thanks guys, and they do look pretty nice. I can see why they were put on originally.

April 14, 2004, 10:01 PM
Peter - how about getting out the digital camera and posting a little gun porn for the rest of us? Don't get to see elephant teeth too much anymore.


April 14, 2004, 11:38 PM
If I remember correctly the old method of ivory care was the use of sperm whale oil. The wax sounds like a better deal.
One of the key issues is temp control - rapid changes in temp will do damage quickly.
Bone will not melt either so part of your check for true ivory should be a magnified look at the surface - ivory has a very closed surface while bone is more porous. Sounds like they are likely ivory by you discription.

Peter M. Eick
April 20, 2004, 08:57 PM
Ok, sorry for the delay, to nice of a weekend to not travel and see the great state of Texas!

First off, I will post pictures later this week. I need to set up the camera to get a good series of shots.

To me these appear to be some sort of ivory. I went to an arts and crafts display of native artifacts (state park display) and saw some real ivory and it looks just like my grips. It is a cream color, but more tan and natural.

The surface is almost perfectly closed, but when you look at the bottom of the grips they have a "grain" or pattern to them that seems to indicate about a 5 or 6" radius to them (just guessing). I would guess that radius is the trunk of the elephant. The grain is very uniform, and does not vary on either grip. When you handle them, they have natural warmth that is hard to really describe. They are not warm to the touch initially, but they are not static or cold like rubber or dull like normal magna grips, and they seem to give back the heat of your hand easily.

They have no cracks or chips, and fit perfectly to the frame. It is obvious that these were professionally fitted to the frame with some skill. They are not shrunk or sloppy fitting at all. All seams are perfect and tight. I would really like to know the history, but since we are talking about a 1930 38/44 heavy duty that is very unlikely I will ever find it out.

Now I am at a cross roads. I saw on another forum that similar grips (not as nice as mine) went for $475 on an open sale. WOW, I had no idea they were worth that much. Since my gun is going to be a shooter, I was just going to toss them in the spare grips bin when I got a proper set of replacement grips. This is based upon the advice that you guys say I should not shoot them, less I damage them from the reciol. Now I am thinking I should probably sell them or something.

Anyway, pictures later this week. Sorry for the delays.

April 21, 2004, 06:36 PM
Contact either of these guys. They may be able to tell you.
Friggin' real ivory grips for a Vaquero are worth more than the gun.

Peter M. Eick
April 22, 2004, 08:00 PM
Picture TIME!!!!!

The ivory one is pretty obvious.....

This was my first 50 shots. The grip is to small for my hand. 15 yards by the way.

By the way, the actual ivory is a lot whiter then this, I toned it back a bit to show the color and grain in the stuff.

So anyone interested in them? I have registered magnum magna's on the way and some correct style wood ones on the way, but it will take a while to get here. Although I like the grips, I am interested in useable things. All of my guns are shooters, and delicate grips are not compatible.

April 23, 2004, 04:40 PM
Peter M. Eick, please reduce the size of your pictures. Anybody on a dial up connection will be waiting until next Tuesday for the page to load. There's nothing quite as pretty as real ivory. Except maybe for properly finished walnut.

Paul "Fitz" Jones
April 29, 2004, 06:37 PM
From my archives I can fit preWW2 weapons with Fitz after market grips the choice of Police and Champions since we patented Target grips in the 1920's.

I can fit old Smiths, Colt from Cobras to Pythons, Ruger MK1&2 22 autos also High Standard 102-3-4 target pistols. And may only one or two left of certain models.


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