Ivory warehouse of Hamburg’s walking-stick factory »Heinrich Christian Meyer jr.« at Großen Grasbrook, Hamburg, Germany, around 1870.
Courtesy of the Museum der Arbeit, Hamburg
In Tielke’s time, the ivory used for such inlay work was a rare and precious material. That changed in the 19th century, when Europeans began to systematically hunt down elephants in order to turn their tusks into billiard balls, piano keys, the pommels of walking sticks, and other items.
A look into the warehouse of the Stockmeyer factory in Hamburg gives a sense of the extent of this butchery.