www.IvoryAuthenticityAndAge.com (last update: 06/08/2013)

Fond. Gottfried Matthaes

Elephant tusk or Plastic? 


Today it is possible to recognize authentic ivory
very easily

Musical instrument in ivory, Africa

Buddha temple, China (ivory)

Classification of the material

Sometimes, in addition to elephant tusks, the horns of other animals and some kinds of bone are inaccurately included in the category of ivory. Furthermore, increasingly perfect synthetic materials are being produced today which cannot be distinguished from ivory by their appearance alone.

All these materials consist of distinct molecules which can be recognized simply and clearly using spectrographic analysis (see figure right). In order to perform the test, it is sufficient to extract a few milligrams of material (household drill) and mail the sample to a specialized laboratory.


in Milan: Dr. Peter Matthaes
for Germany: Dr. Martin Matthaes

For authentic ivory it is possible to carry out a test to establish its age, but the procedure is more complicated because in order to take the sample it is necessary to bring or send the object to the Museum�s central laboratory in Milan or to the German branch where it will remain for at most half an hour.
Ivory is characterized by its hardness, compactness, lustre and resilience, characteristics due to its chemical composition. The main element is represented by inorganic substances such as phosphate and calcium fluoride, the age of which is not measurable. But there are also organic substances present which undergo change with the passage of time according to biological laws. Analysis with infrared spectroscopy shows up the molecules present in the material permitting the ivory�s inorganic substances to be clearly distinguished from the organic ones. Analytical dating methods can thus be applied to the latter focusing on selected and measurable molecules.

The application of spectroscopic analysis for the dating of organic materials is patented
(It. Patent Nr. 01266808 - G. Matthaes, 1993)

PRICES: Classification of material: Euro 100 for an analysis. Dating of an ivory object: Euro 150.





Museo d'Arte e Scienza

 Milan - Italy


The only museum worldwide dedicated to
ascertaining the authenticity of antique art objects


Over 2,000 items are on display in the Museum's 18 rooms covering the main sectors of antiques.
A modern scientific laboratory as well as
interactive test stations are at the disposal of visitors.


test station room 8:
sniff test on excavated pottery

test station room 9:
test for revealing use of plastic

identification of glues and other synthetic materials with Wood�s light

test station room 9: examination with a magnifying glass of signs of wear and decorations on china



optical examination of signs of wear to identify an authentic piece of silverware

shadows reveal the industrial or handcrafted manufacture of glass

the microscope distinguishes authentic patinas and encrustations from faked ones

the dull sound of a porcelain item reveals hidden restoration work


 Via Q. Sella, 4 -20121 Milano -  Piazza Castello

Opening hours:
Mon-Fri: 10:00-18:00       Entrance: Euro 8 - reduced Euro 4
Information: Tel:+390272022488. Fax:+390272023156.  e-mail: info@museoartescienza.com



A scientific laboratory at the service of art

The Museum laboratory�s mission is to improve existing scientific methods and elaborate new methods for the ascertainment of the authenticity of art objects. The laboratory�s instruments and know-how for the determining of authenticity are at the disposal of collectors, art experts, restorers, art galleries and museums.
(The staff of the laboratory, who speak the main European languages, are at your disposal for any explanations).

The laboratory of the Museo d'Arte e Scienza is a non-profit facility
and is independent from every point of view.


Tests carried out by the laboratory:

Spectroscopic dating and characterization of wooden objects

Microscopic tests on paintings, antique bronzes, excavated pottery, etc.

Examination of underlying layers using infrared reflectography

Analyses of paint layers with a duroflexometer

Analyses with Wood�s light, UV and IR


Spectroscopic chemical analyses on pigments, glues, encrustations, patinas, products of corrosion. Scientific, practical and instrumental tests of authenticity on: ivory, amber, archaeological glass, pigments, metals, stones, carpets, tapestry, prints, books, clocks and watches, china.

For more information www.SpectroscopyforArt.com

Other requests may be sent, as always, directly to the Milan laboratory at the following address:

Museo d�Arte e Scienza
Via Q. Sella 4 � 20121 Milano
Tel. 0039 02 72022488
Fax 0039 02 72023156
e-mail: info@museoartescienza.com



Determining the authenticity of
objects in ivory - Ample descriptions in

With this guide to detecting fakes, you will always have a trusted expert by your side, ready to provide you with clear and straightforward answers as to the authenticity and originality of the items that arouse your interest.


VOLUME 1: Ivory, Paintings, Icons, Carpets and Rugs, Tapestry, Furniture, Glass, Ceramics, Scientific Methods
VOLUME 2: Paper, Books, Prints, Metals, Clocks, Walking Sticks, Pipes, Musical Instruments, Precious Stones, Amber, Pearls, Enamel Paint, Dolls, Toys, Fans
VOLUME 3: Minor Asian Arts, Excavated objects, Buddhist Art, African Art, Indonesian Art
How to buy it:
  • in all bookshops giving the ISBN code number
  • directly at the Museo d'Arte e Scienza (with discount)
  • by e-mail


For further information about the book







www.MuseoArteScienza.com - Sections of the "Museo d'Arte e Scienza": 6 rooms dedicated to the ascertainment of authenticity in art and antiques, 5 rooms on Leonardo da Vinci's "Treatise on Painting" and his activities in Milan, 5 rooms dedicated to African Art and Buddhist Art, 2 Scientific Laboratories.

www.LeonardoDaVinciMilano.com - Two permanent exhibitions: "Leonardo Citizen of Milan" and  "Appreciating Art through the Eyes of Leonardo" from his "Treatise on Painting".

www.AuthenticAfricanBronzesandCeramics.com -  Dedicated to the authenticity of African artworks in bronze, stone and pottery. The scientific laboratory of the Museo d�Arte e Scienza has developed valid methods for telling authentic African objects from copies and fakes.

www.ArtAndScienceHandbook.com - The most complete and scientifically valid guide to ascertaining the authenticity of European and non-European antiques on an objective basis (540 pages and more than 2,000 colour illustrations in 3 volumes and 3 languages).

www.Paintingsauthenticity.com - Information about the authenticity of modern paintings and antique paintings.

www.AntiqueFurnitureAuthenticity.com - A list of possible methods for determining the authenticity of furniture based on objective factors.

www.Excavatedartauthenticity.com - "A list of all the possible ways of determining, on the basis of objective factors, the authenticity of excavated pottery, glass or bronze items from Southern Italy, the Mediterranean Basin, China and South America.".

www.AfricanArtAuthenticity.com - "Art and Life in Black Africa", The African Art didactic section of the Museum (5 rooms and over 350 objects).  

www.SpectroscopyforArt.com - A scientific method for the dating of wood and identification of the wood type used for art objects. Determination of their authenticity through analysis of colours, binders, pigments and other organic substances.

www.CopiesAndFakesInArt.com - Ample further descriptions for ascertaining authenticity in art in the individual fields of antiques.

www.Matthaes.org  - The history of the G. Matthaes Foundation from the opening of the painting school in Dresden in 1906 up to the "Museo d'Arte e Scienza" in Milan.

www.arteautentica.it - The Museum's scientific laboratory is in charge of the investigation of the authenticity in art and antiques and is available to individuals, collectors, art experts, restorers and museums.





Museo d�Arte e Scienza di Gottfried Matthaes S.R.L.
Sede legale e amministrativa: Via Q. Sella 4 � 20121 Milano
Partita IVA e Codice Fiscale 03191710106
C.C.I.A.A MILANO: 1343958 � Cap. sociale � 90.000,00

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ivory authenticity