Is this a real claw?

About 40 years ago my great grandpa gave me this claw. I don’t remember what he said to me about it. Is it real? It’s very hard but not like rock.



Wart hog tusk? (WAG-waiting for someone who knows something).

Not “craw,” “CRAW.”

One of my favourite scenes from “Get Smart”.

Looks artificial to me. Too uniform. Real animal claws are comprised primarily of keratin, and have unique marks on them.

Does any animal have a claw or tusk that looks that much like wood?

Looks pretty seriously unclawlike to me.

And for extinct animals

Claws are hollow, and generally aren’t round in cross section, but flattened from side to side. Tusks also usually have a central cavity at least at the base, or have a pattern of concentric circles in cross section. It looks like it’s been carved out of some kind of hard wood to me.

Yes, old ivory can look just like wood. But that isn’t ivory.

I was going to suggest it was a section of antler, but all the ones I’ve ever seen have a dense outer wall with a more porous inner area like bone. So I’m pretty sure it’s not antler.

It’s definitely not wood but maybe some man-made material? It’s not plastic either. Maybe it’s from a carving or statue of some sort?

It doesn’t look very natural to me. Most natural materials produced by growth will have some kind of internal layering. Looking closely at the cross section, it appears that the surface grooves do not correspond to any internal structure but end at the surface. This suggests to me that the grooves are carved rather than being organic parts of the piece.

I completely agree. Its definitely not a claw or a tooth (tusk) or an antler. But I concur that it looks carved. Possibly man-made material. If I could see a closer image of the cross-section, at good resolution, I could be more definite.

Once on Antiques Roadshow, they talked about how to tell if something was made of ivory versus plastic, by using a very hot needle tip to prick the piece. Would that be helpful here?

Bakelite, the first commercial plastic, was sometimes used to make ornamental objects that looked like horn or ivory.

Aside from the suggested melt test, you could scrape off a small amount of material and burn it. Bone/horn should smell of burning protein, that is, barbecue. Plastic will smell like burning plastic.

Here’s a better picture. If you click on the picture, it’ll take to you flickr and then click on it 2 more times to zoom in.


That reinforces my impression that it doesn’t have any internal structure, and the grooves are decorative. The dark and light lengthwise streaks run across the grooves (but not across the bottom of the groove) and look like they have been painted on or stained in some manner. Also, some of the grooves look like they have dark pigment in the bottom that has run into them. In the cross section, there is a narrow light area below the surface, then a narrow dark ring, then the center is light. But the light and dark rings near the surface are not indented below the grooves, again indicating these are surface features rather than structural.