Tortoise, Ivory, mother-of pearl and their Imitations

Starting in the 19th century, accessories made of tortoiseshell became luxury goods. Not only were they hard to make, they were also often inlaid with silver, gold or mother-of-pearl. Sometimes animal horn was used as a cheaper substitute.

Also in the 19th and the early 20th century ivory was used to decorate purses and coin purses. The ivory was cut into detailed images. A less expensive alternative was bone or vegetable ivory.

Gradually, synthetics such as celluloid and later casein and cellulose acetate became more and more available and were often used to imitate ivory and tortoiseshell by the end of the 19th century.