These remarkable black and white images show the devastating amount of ivory that was once transported to the London docks, from the equivalent of 4,000 dead elephants per year.
In what is now a very controversial trade, the fascinating images show the ivory merchants of 1920 in their London warehouse, aptly named Ivory House, who weigh and measure the large tusks.
Shocking photographs indicate the massive scale of ivory poaching, which is still occurring to this day, as traders use large scales to measure three fangs at a time before selling them.
Until the end of the 19th century, 500 tons of ivory were imported into London every year, making London one of the most powerful ivory importers.
An estimated 30,000 tons of ivory moved from Africa to the United Kingdom between 1860 and 1920 and the tusks of at least 1.1 million elephants became domestic products for a rapidly expanding middle class.
The ivory that was brought to Ivory House was sold all over the world and to the merchants in the United Kingdom who turned the ivory into other products such as billiard balls, piano keys and cutlery.
Britain has since moved to distance itself from the ivory trade. In early 2018, Theresa May recognized ivory hunting as a problem to be addressed and announced that the UK would soon ban all sales of ivory.
The ban would only allow musical instruments that contain a small percentage of ivory, some antiques and museum objects.
Two mammoth tusks arrive at Ivory House in 1924. The warehouse, which was located on the London docks, received 200 tons of ivory in a year at that time, which meant that it harbored the tusks of up to 4,000 dead elephants. Ivory House was built in 1858 and is the only original warehouse that is still located on the quays of St Katharine today.
Two men hold a large tusk before it is sold at auction. Large fangs like this would be sold to carving centers throughout Europe, where they were carved delicately in ornamental ornaments. Items produced with ivory would include crucifixes and napkin rings
The London warehouse was flooded with fangs from Africa. However, it was not only the ivory that would store the warehouse. Luxury imports such as perfume, shells and wine were also stored in the wide vaults of the basement. In 1973, the building underwent a restoration that transformed the warehouse that was once a center with ivory poaching, in a complex with apartments, shops and restaurants that now fill the space.
The ivory was measured and weighed in the warehouse before being sold or transported to European milling centers. An estimated 30,000 tons of ivory moved from Africa to the United Kingdom between 1860 and 1920 and the tusks of at least 1.1 million elephants became domestic products for a rapidly expanding middle class.
Heavy tusks at Ivory House on the London waterfront in 1922. Here are two men weighing their tusks three at a time. Until the end of the nineteenth century, 500 tons of ivory were imported to London each year – 200 of which went to Ivory House. This made London one of the most powerful ivory importers of the time.
A giant tusk is measured in 1922. The industrial revolution, which took place between 1820 and 1840, gave London the technological means to become a major player in the ivory trade. Often, ivory is carved into ornate pieces, such as crucifixes, paper cutters and delicate napkin rings. Then it would be sold for a high price
Here are two men who weigh fangs in Ivory House before cutting them and distributing them in smaller pieces. After its key role in poaching and transporting elephant ivory during the 1920s, the docks were one of the many heavily bombed areas in World War II. However, Ivory House managed to survive the onslaught of the bombings
England's ivory trade dates from the early seventeenth century. At this time imports were quite low, around five tons per year. However, after the industrial revolution, this increased dramatically and Ivory House (pictured) was built in 1858. The building would house a considerable portion of ivory transported to the country.
Ivory hunting has drastically affected the elephant population throughout Africa, which is estimated to have declined from 26 million elephants to less than one million in Africa. Illegal poaching of elephants for precious ivory is the biggest threat to elephants today
One of the larger pieces is cut here and these smaller pieces will be carved into pieces adorned with items for the home for the middle class. Ivory is still present in today's society, but changes are being made to restrict access, allowing only in very few circumstances
The largest tusks were sold to carving centers throughout Europe where they were delicately carved in ornate ornaments (in the image), which can be seen in some of the photographs. Decorated pieces such as crucifixes, paper cutters and delicate napkin rings were created from these smaller pieces