Several years ago I attended an informal estate auction organised for friends and family. It was organised by my friend and her family who had been given some bits and pieces left over once the formal disbursement of a family friend’s estate had concluded. The plan was to use any money raised from the auction to support the physical care needs of my friend’s niece who had suffered an acquired brain injury at birth.
The auction was an interesting peek into the life of a gentleman who had a long and distinguished career serving his nation both in Australia and overseas. Items up for auction ranged from bric-a-brac to collector items, and there were many treasured and/or quirky items from far flung places. Items were to go to a charity shop if they were not sold. Friends and family bid enthusiastically. My recollection of the evening are hazy. We were outbid on several items. Two ornaments caught my True Love’s attention. I paid them no attention at all. They were a bit kitsch. Everybody must have thought the same thing because there was little interest in bidding for them. Much to my surprise, my True Love bid successfully on the two little elephants and we became their new owners.
Here they are.
My True Love said that he couldn’t let them go to a charity shop to be sold for a couple of dollars or worse still, go to landfill. His best guess is that the elephants are carved in ebony and the tusks and toes are ivory, but that is only a guess. It is a distressing thought. We keep them even though they make us uncomfortable. We don’t know their provenance. There is no mark of the maker. Perhaps they were given as a gift and the gentleman did not want to offend by declining it? Maybe the elephant (?) from which the ivory came, died of natural causes? It was a very long time ago. There is no one alive today who can tell us the story. In fact, we do not tell this story often. We feel the shame of possession and dispossession.
We’ve seen similar photos online that indicate the ebony is of Sri Lankan origin.