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I think this is a very interesting find. I’ve researched but cannot find anything really close to these. A dealer friend of mine thinks they are 1800s gaming chips. They are made of ivory with inlaid black symbols of the suits on a deck of cards . The research I did brings up some Chinese gaming chips but really nothing like this . I believe them to be 1800s and somewhat rare but what do I know. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you John
So, they are very thin and arranged for display behind a frame?
I am finding different sorts of ANTIQUE GAMING COUNTERS, some with Chinese decorations, some just mother-of-pearl and solid. I think yours are mother-of-pearl, as well. Your symbols are not all related to card suits, so perhaps, this is just the motif chosen by this particular artist.
HI John, I guess they could be counters as Molly has suggested, but I was noting the count of the different shapes. I would really like to know what is on the opposite sides of these, any way you could find out if they are plain, or decorated? That might matter, but I suspect these are hand carved pieces for Mah Jong.
Any type of designs or shapes can be used, and there are hundreds of different layouts used to play. However the most common designs are usually in counts of 36 or 34. That seems to match yours best. Though I've never seen oval/Ovoid shapes used, most would be in identical shapes.
That leads me to one other possibility - Backgammon. They might be markers for some type of Backgammon or similar game. Where did you find these? Any history on the former owners or anything else that might help?
If it's the brown paper often placed by a framer, removing it will not harm your items in any way. If that is your concern. Nor should it alter any value, if you are re-selling. In fact, if you are able to remove a few of the pieces and take photo's of both sides, this may actually help you, not only ID properly, but also to sell them, if that's a goal.
The other thing is John, if you are going to sell, do not include the word "ivory" anywhere in your verbiage, as all ivory has been banned in quite a few USA states, and I believe New York is one of them!
You can however use the word "Bone", carved Bone is still acceptable. These are surely old pieces, as you say, from an old estate. But the Government can't seem to do anything right - big surprise there right? Grrr If they would simply employ a few Antiques and Collectibles experts they could easily avoid selling "NEW" ivory products and OK, antique pieces or those acquired before the 1975 Endangered species act ( which used to be the SENSIBLE standard) UGH - Don't get me started, LOL!
In any case, I think we are going to need more info if we are to help further - so Its up to you. They are cool and unusual for sure, so please keep us posted if you learn more about them!
Thanks Vicky , I think I will try to get to the back sides and share with you.
Thanks Vicky , I think I will try to get to the back sides and share with you. Ok they were glued on to a velvet cloth. The front and backs have the same exact image. Very thin pieces of bone ivory whatever.the black symbols are inlaid . What do you think . Lines in the white indicate to me they are ivory. What intricate work.
They do look different away from the frame. I would venture to guess you know more what you are looking at, than I.
This is an example of what I have been coming across. Mahjong tiles to me are much thicker and tend to be rectangular for the most part, right?