How much do repairs cost
Costs are influenced by the time needed to do
the repair and the amount of materials required. To carve a very detailed
Japanese pole arm for a large early Okimono is a lot more complicated and
expensive than a simple spear for a Chinese modern carving of the same size. It
is almost impossible to estimate repair costs until I actually have the item at
my shop for evaluation. In the comparison given here, the Chinese spear could
cost $50.00 and the Japanese pole arm might be $150.00. My hourly rate varies
from $75 to $125 per hour depending on the complexity of the work. Most minor
repairs are done in an hour or less.
Once an item arrives, I will evaluate the problems and
contact the customer. At that point, I can usually offer an accurate estimate
for repair. Many times, the customer does not realize the piece has other damage
or missing parts. Having worked on innumerable ivories, I scrutinize each piece
carefully. Ivories are cleaned of dirt and dust unless the customer specifies
otherwise. Old glue or other materials that do not belong on the ivory are also
removed. If a customer opts to not have the item repaired, it will be carefully
repacked and returned. The customer is responsible for shipping costs.
How do you get the item to
Carefully packed in tissue and bubble wrap and
double boxed is the safest method. The piece needs to be well padded from shock
and impact. Bigger boxes are better than smaller tight fitting boxes. UPS, FedEx
or Postal Service Priority mail are the most common methods used by clients.
Insure as appropriate and advise me of insurance requested for return. Once I
have shipped a repaired item, any damage or claim will be between the customer
and the shipper. Another option for the customer shipping very valuable or
delicate items is to use a shipping service. I only do business in the United
Do you paint the repaired part
Yes and no. Let me explain. There is a
technique for repairing ivory as follows: Missing parts are molded or cast in a
man-made material. They are attached to the ivory, shaped and smoothed. They are
then painted, usually by airbrush and given a clear coat. I DO NOT USE THIS
TECHNIQUE, on a regular basis, although it is generally fast and inexpensive.
The reason I do not use this technique is that it looks BAD. The repair looks
like a painted surface, not ivory. Much detail is lost. These repairs are easily
spotted to the trained eye. I will occasionally cast small intricate parts and
similar decorative components that cannot be efficiently carved in old ivory.
I DO REPAIR AS FOLLOWS: I will
select a piece of the appropriate type of ivory (there are several types, all
different) to match the original item for density, grain direction and color. I
will carve the ivory in the matching style of the original and attach it to the
object with a tight or nearly invisible seam. It will be polished, aged and
colored to match the original item. Any seam or joint showing will be "feathered
over" with a very small amount of paint in a dry brush technique. Tiny cracks
and seams are filled with special materials and hidden the same way. Large
splits and cracks are filled with actual ivory. The repair looks like ivory
because it is ivory. I use pre-ban ivory and recycled old carvingsfor material
Do I have references ?
Yes, available on request. I have been doing
repair work for many of the major dealers and collectors in the United States
for almost 23 years. My work has been acknowledged by well known historian and
antiques dealer Norm Flayderman. I received a credit line in his definitive book
“The Bowie Knife”. Norm also wrote “Scrimshaw and Scrimshanders, a classic
reference on that subject and related nautical antiques.
I have a credit line for my restoration work on many sets
owned by Dr. George Dean, the author of recently published “Chess Masterpieces”.
Dr. Dean owns what is considered the finest collection of rare chess sets in the
Is the repair work guaranteed
I guarantee to do the best possible repair I
can do at reasonable cost and in a timely fashion. I will also pack the item in
a very secure method. On occasion, a completed item arrives at the client’s
location and has been damaged in shipment. Shipping damage is resolved between
the shipper and the customer. My business is based on customer satisfaction,
"word of mouth" referrals and providing a consistently good product.
Do I buy broken ivories
Yes. I am constantly buying damaged ivories for
repair material or to repair and resell. Sometimes a client has an ivory that is
not worth fixing do to lower quality, extensive damage or missing parts. I will
pay a fair price for quality, damaged ivories and scrap rates for low quality or
raw legal ivory.
Can I tell you what your ivory is worth
I am not an appraiser, but can offer my opinion
if a piece is of high quality or not, and a very rough idea of value, if it is
in my hand for study. Most photos are pretty useless in evaluating quality or
value. I won’t venture to evaluate netsuke at all. There are many resources
about netsuke on the Internet.
Is your ivory worth
Sometimes the answer is no. When the repair cost
and your original purchase price do not meet current market prices, why would
you repair the item ? If the item is a family heirloom that means something very
special to you, then a repair may be correct, because the dollar value is not
important. If you are seeking the absolute cheapest repair just to sell the item
and make a few bucks, you are at the wrong place. Try the putty and paint repair
Do you fix chess sets?
Chess sets are a significant part of my business.
Typical repairs include:
pieces to complete a set. Bone, ivory or wood.
of tops, collars, crosses and finials.
of figural pieces.
sets boxes and components.
7. Touch up
NOTE: I avoid fabricating pieces for sets that are
missing a substantial number of pieces. Contact me about your specific needs.
ivory statue has a hairline crack in its face. Can it be made invisible ?
No. No repair is really invisible. Facial cracks
are especially hard to conceal. They can be cleaned, bleached, filled and
colored, but they will still be there. The putty and paint technique covers
cracks well, but they look like painted doll faces. They can re-crack and change
color in time. Cracks in ivory are a natural and sometimes desirable. They can
indicate great age, if they have not been artificially induced.
Do I sell ivories ?
Yes. On occasion I buy very nice collections and
individual pieces of ivory or other works of art. Restoration work is done if
needed and the items will be offered through my current list of collectors and
dealers. I also broker ivory collections for dealers and private owners. Contact
me for details on this marketing approach.
Do I work on anything other
than ivory ?
Yes. I work in other natural materials including
bone, whalebone, horn, antler and wood. Carvings and inlay replacement are
typical. I restrict my work to smaller "bench top" items. No large furniture
pieces. I do not do handgun grips or modern knife handle work.
How can you learn more about
Read, go to antique
shows, museums and auctions. Talk to collectors and dealers. Learn about the
types of ivory and the carving styles. Don’t start buying until you have done
the above extensively. The International Ivory Society is a great resource for
information. They hold meetings and seminars and issue frequent newsletters.
Founder and Director Bob Weisblut can be contacted at
He is an expert on many types of ivory and will get you on the mailing list of
the ISS. Best of all, membership is free.
I have worked on many thousands of carvings and have
an extensive library on the subject. I can identify most styles and origins of
commonly held ivories. I would be happy to offer an opinion on a carving you may
own at no charge. Just send me a clear digital picture. If I can't indentify
what you have, I should be able to direct you to a resource.
How long does it take to fix
your object ?
Typical repairs are completed in 2 weeks or less.
90% of my customers are dealers and cannot afford to have repairs drag on for
months. If repairs need more time I will contact you.
I ship my item for repair ?
All items shipped for repair
should be sent to :
The Japanese Repository
7705 Northwest 18th Court
Margate, Florida 33063