Q:

How do you tell if something is made of real tortoise shell?

A:

Quick Answer

To identify real tortoiseshell from material substitutes, apply a hot pin to a hidden spot. If the smell resulting from the hot pin smells similar to burned hair and a black spot develops, the item is likely real tortoiseshell; however, if the burning smells like plastic, then it is not.

Continue Reading
How do you tell if something is made of real tortoise shell?
Credit: De Agostini Editorial De Agostini Getty Images

Full Answer

Tortoise shell is a material produced from the shells of tortoises and turtles. The hawksbill turtle is the species mostly exploited for the material, causing it to become an endangered species. Stemming from ancient times in both the West and the East, real tortoise shell was often used for items like combs, frames, furniture ornaments, and more. However, by the 1970s real tortoise shell use was officially banned.

To buy or sell real tortoise shell legally, it must be at least a hundred years old and a genuine antique, or had originated from a private collection. Due to the legal aspects of dealing with tortoiseshell, after the ban, plastic, celluloid, bone and horn become common substitutes.

With real tortoiseshell, there can be slight unevenness due to the nature of the shell that molded materials do not have. For genuine tortoiseshell, one can typically see very fine knife marks from where the shell was carved by hand.

Learn more about Collecting

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What affects the value of collectible coins?

    A:

    The value of collectible coins is affected by material, condition and supply and demand. Other factors influence the value as well, such as the design, coloring and markings.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How are arrowheads priced?

    A:

    Arrowhead pricing is typically based on the arrowhead's condition, rarity, size, workmanship and material. Price guides or appraisers can help determine the value of an arrowhead.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is real life like?

    A:

    The dictionary defines "real life" as something that happens in reality. However, one town sought to educate children about real life by exposing them to adulthood, performing an experiment wherein they were taught to budget based on a monthly income determined by GPA to emphasize the link between real life, responsibilities and adulthood.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What does "contingent" mean in real estate?

    A:

    The term "contingent" in a real estate contract means that the sale cannot be completed and finalized until something specifically named has happened. Contingencies are common in the buying and selling of real estate.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore