What’s it worth? Appraisal of Hand Carved Ivory Tusk

Sarah asks:
I have searched all over the web and I find your site to be the most informative and well put together. I hope you can help me. I have a carved ivory tusk (elephant) which is about 30 inches from tip to base. I did quite a bit of research and found out that it is pre ban ivory (1985), the identification written on the inside is a CITES registration, so I am pretty sure it is real ivory originating in South Africa.
I also tried to find information on the carver, Phillip Mabala. I know he is from Lebowe, South Africa and thats all I could find on him. I did the pin test and it passed, I also tried to get a good closeup of the base crosshatching. I have two of these tusks and I am thinking about selling them, I have no idea what they are worth and I don’t want to under price them. The work is exquisite and so different than any I have seen. I would greatly appreciate any advice or information you may be able to give. 
Thank you so much!
hand carved tuskelephant ivory tuskphillip mabala hand carved tusk
AW says:
Hi Sarah,

This is definitely a legitimate Ivory tusk. If you were to sell it, you would want to make sure to market it as “Historic Ivory” which is the term used for pre-ban Ivory.

Of course these would be unique, because they are hand carved, and very well carved I might add.

The market for these has sunk a bit because eBay no longer allows the selling of any kind of Ivory, even pre-ban items.

  • Retail value for each: $1,250-$1,500
  • Wholesale: $800-$900
  • Quick sale: $350-$500


  • Ivory
  • pre-ban Ivory
  • hand carved tusks
  • Elephant carved tusks
  • historic Ivory
  • Phillip Mabala
  • South Africa
  • CITES registration