Question of the Day: Would You Buy An Ivory Knife?

“Prosecutors…charged…Shreveport resident John Daniel Graves, with buying the six unaltered walrus tusks, a misdemeanor violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, according to the charges. Only Alaska Natives can sell or buy the raw ivory, most often used to create art and then resold.” That’s not one of Graves’s blades above, but there’s no denying that, in the right hands, ivory — walrus or elephant — can make a for a beautiful tool. The problem is, it can be hard to determine provenance. Over at TTAG, we had plenty of skeptics voice doubts about elephant trunk holsters. And given the amount of poaching that goes on, unless you can be sure what you’re buying is legal, is it worth it?


  1. Mike says:

    Good little article with links on legality of ivory….

  2. Aharon says:

    Good question. I had never considered buying an ivory handled anything. After the comment about poached ivory being used for handles and the difficulty distinguishing between the two I will pass on buying ivory in the future. Again, it has never been in my plans in the first place. Lastly, I’m simply not drawn to ivory for its appearance or as a status symbol material.

  3. Robert Farago says:

    I see nothing wrong with hunting elephants to maintain populations and/or provide income for the indigenous population. But the idea of “certified” or “legal” elephant ivory is OK is laughable. The corruption in Africa is beyond imagination.

    As for knife handles made from Walrus tusk or whale teeth, again, I don’t trust that whole “ethical ivory” deal. I’m not PC by nature, but I do love me some nature. So, pass.

    1. jwm says:

      Basically, my thoughts. With 1 bit extra. Nowadays it’s very easy to get into the “system” an just about impossible to get out again. Why risk a lifetime of the man in your life over something as trivial as the handle materiel for a knife?

  4. gej88 says:

    No ivory for me.

  5. Chris Dumm says:

    The only ivory in this house was glued to its piano keys in the mid-1880s, and that’s where it will stay. And no, the piano isn’t really playable.

  6. PubliusII says:

    I wouldn’t buy one — or one with mammoth/mastodon tusk — in any case because I’m a firm believer in knives being utilitarian objects.

    Others can buy whatever they like. But I’m happiest with a knife that’s well-designed and built from ordinary materials, which may include good ol’ plastic. This also means I’m resistant to the knives that come from high-end makers. Sorry, guys. No sale.

    The basic Moras mentioned in another post below, and Cold Steel’s $20 jobs (Finn Bear, Pendleton Lite, etc), are my kind of knife — good quality for the money and not so “precious” that you’re afraid to give it hard use.

  7. Pro-Liberty says:

    I would love to get a fine knife made with ivory. I’ve come very close to buying ivory grips for one of my pistols.

    As for the politics, well, elephants produce a material that is in high demand, and they don’t have a very fast life cycle. It is obvious why the tragedy of the commons would be particularly unforgiving when it comes to things like elephants and whales and rhinos. Given the current regulatory regime, there is an incentive to harvest as much ivory as you can today, because it may not exist tomorrow.

    The only way to “save the elephants” is to make it easier to own them and to make owning them and farming them profitable. Unfortunately, this is unthinkable to the central planners and the bulk of their glassy eyed constituents, so these animals will likely go the way of the dodo.

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Question of the Day: Would You Buy An Ivory Knife?

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