A tribute to the legendary African hunters, who in pursue of discovery and adventure shaped the myth surrounding the biggest mammal on earth – the Elephant.
A fascinating story,
recreating the daring ventures of the most famous and illustrious characters who were drawn to the dark continent in search of riches, at a time where big herds of elephants roamed the land freely, in a world that few were privileged to experience.
A unique work
A yellowed page, hand-written notes, memories of a hunt long ago...
The mammoth ivory inlay in the Ivory Hunter´s stock evokes Africa’s past. It is a symbol of old elephant safaris where intrepid hunters ventured into the unknown. Their silhouettes in the engraving are synonymous with all the great elephant hunters.
Sadly, those times are bygone and the old, wild, romantic Africa with its undiscovered land no longer exists. The hunters’ silhouettes therefore recede into the background of this unique engraving. For now, the elephants live on. As a result, they appear to be coming towards the viewer. Elephants have stood the test of time, while the days of limitedless elephant safaris and great hunters are now over.
A major challenge was inserting the mammoth ivory plate into the rifle stock. The inlay was also particularly difficult in the fore-end tip and pistol grip cap. Working with and joining two natural materials always involves a certain risk. However carefully treated, the materials can still crack, shrink or even become warped. It was therefore important to stabilise the mammoth ivory, thus preventing it from further ageing and cracking. This was done by special vacuum treatment with synthetic resins. After the stabilisation process, we then gradually fitted the ivory flush with the gun stock. We decided to use screws and specially designed steel parts that can be readjusted if required to ensure stable, durable joints between the wood and ivory.
The rifle´s ivory fore-end tip conjures up old legends of great hunters and elephants: a metaphor of bygone days, the hunt for "White gold".
Main subject is the mighty bull elephant. Like a monument, in stark contrast to the surroundings, he stands watching us, a symbol of hope for the animal’s survival.
The ivory hunter is merely a shadowy figure behind the large elephant. His silhouette is looking into the distance, pale, ghost-like in the mist of times long gone by. What he once hunted now faces us. That species has survived.
The herons taking flight, carried by the element of air, act as a link between the two figures – the Ivory Hunter and the elephant, the Big Ivory. Although times have changed, what remains is the memory of such hunts immortalised in this exceptional rifle.
The ivory hunter turns round one last time before disappearing forever in the dusk of the approaching evening, in a cloud of dust and haze. Having shouldered his gun, his back is to us. One glance back, the end of a great hunt.
The names of great ivory hunters engraved in the fore-end tip are a reminder of him.
An impressive Fanzoj bolt-action rifle, built around a Mauser 98 action, the best and safest bolt-action mechanism in the world, in the legendary African calibre .416 Rigby.
Apart from being a beautiful work of art, this item meets all the functional requirements of a big game hunting weapon, ie it has to withstand gas pressure of 3,500 bar from a 7,000 joule cartridge projectile.
The gun stock in a rich, dark colour is crafted from first-class Circassian walnut burl, the strongest and most beautiful wood in the world, stored for ten years to bring the natural humidity down to below 10%.
Its extraordinary mirror-like finish is the result of time-consuming filing and sanding techniques in combination with traditional oils laboriously applied over many months bringing to life the wood’s complex depth of colour and grain, and simultaneously protecting it even from rugged use.
Engraving in steel and mammoth ivory by Ritchi Maier
Like entries in old safari diaries, the names of great ivory hunters are a reminder of long bygone times. Some but by no means all of the most famous pioneers who hunted in Africa at the turn of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century are immortalised here in the ivory in finest scrimshaw stippling technique.
...amidst ghost-like elephant silhouettes passing by, seemingly into the unknown...
John Taylor, Frederick Selous, James Sutherland, Karamojo Bell, Aurelio Rossi, John A. Hunter, George Rushby, Eric Rundgren, Harry Manners, Samaki Salmon, J.Mac Neil, T. Lefebre, Otto Krohnert, Major Andy Anderson
...evoking the world of early big game safaris into unexplored territories, witness to the richest wildlife spectacle on earth, before poaching and politics intervened. Bringing back to life the ivory markets in Zanzibar, Khartoum, the Lado Enclave, where the biggest herds of elephants in all Africa roamed, where poachers and cruel slave traders and elephant ivory robbers gathered, where elephant legends were born...
The elephant skin is all-encompassing theme on this rifle´s steel parts. In fact, the steel has been engraved just like elephant skin. All the upper action parts of the "Ivory Hunter" up to the base of the barrel are finished in a realistic texture of the finest detail.
"The surface of elephant skin is like a landscape: it tells a story", says engraver Ritchi Maier. It was important to him to reflect the various characteristics of elephant skin - the direction of the lines, pores and markings – as accurately as possible.
As a result, many different skin textures are to be found on the individual parts of the rifle. One runs seamlessly into another, creating a harmonious whole.
Center of the rifle´s bottom view is the big bull elephant, sculptured into steel, his eye fixed on the observer.
A loner. The secret ruler of Africa who carries with him a treasure, legendary and highly sought after. He is the guardian of the "White gold" – the Big Ivory. It was for him that men infatuated by risk said goodbye to their families, left their homelands and made their way to the "dark continent", driven by an inner voice, to search him out, track him down, in feverish anticipation of this final encounter, when in a state of exertion hunter and hunted stand eye to eye, and roles merge in face of this giant. When awe, fear and the instinct to kill and survive narrow the existence down to the most basic of questions: life or death.
Only a handful of those early adventurers left Africa with more money than they came with, quite a few left with a lot less and some paid the ultimate price.
Relief, chiselled and bulino engraving – combined in places.
Before the actual engraving, countless sketches of the elephant skin texture were produced to define the position of the main lines and wrinkles. The skin grain was first roughly modelled with various gravers, burins and etching needles and then the next stage was to punch the finer skin textures, lines and pores in the surface.
Creating the larger elephant and heron scenes on the magazine plate and guard was even more complicated. Here the technique changes from relief to high-definition bulino engraving on the surface. Microscopically small dots reproduce the pattern of the elephant skin in even finer and greater detail by reflecting light for tones from light to dark.
"The archaic looking elephant skin with all its various textures – for one single engraver an absolutely incredible achievement"
Symbols and pictures carved in animal bone and ivory – called scrimshaws – are among the oldest works of art known to mankind. Art as a cult - closely linked to hunting. This basic idea played a key role in engraving the mammoth ivory parts of the rifle.
To create scrimshaw, the surface first has to be polished until smooth. The motif is then carved into it or tiny dots made with a fine, needle-sharp tool. This work is performed under the microscope. To highlight the motif after engraving, the entire surface is rubbed with a pigment and polished off again. Several operations are usually required here.
To protect the amazing scrimshaw on this rifle in the long term, we sealed it with a nano coating specially developed for the automotive industry.
A shadowy yellow compass engraved in the diary led the hunters in the past, while the clear hand engraved compass on the pistol grip cap will guide the new owner of this exceptional gun in the present day.
"Scrimshaw on mammoth ivory, set in 24-carat gold"
This exceptional weapon comes in an exclusive leather´oak gun case covered in smoky-blue elephant hide and lined in cream-coloured leather, complete with handcrafted tools and accessories in nickel silver/mammoth ivory, all 24-carat gold plated. On the lid is an oil painting of a bull elephant by wildlife artist Rudi Kohl. Documenting the background and creative process behind this outstanding rifle, a leather-bound book with real scrimshaw inlay work in its own elephant hide cover will be presented together with the gun to its future owner.
Artistically decorated weapons as an expression of people’s material and spiritual lives have been in existence for many centuries. They have a highly symbolic meaning and served not only as everyday objects, but also as diplomatic gifts or even a demonstration of local craftsmen’s skills. Today, exclusive gunmaking has a fixed place among customised luxury goods worldwide.
Fanzoj is one of the few gunmaking firms worldwide still capable of designing and building such collectors’ items, beautiful examples of old world high craftsmanship and style. Representing tradition at its most dynamic, the firm fascinates with ultimate artisanal, specialty and bespoke objects, and pushes the boundaries of gunmaking a step further back with each extraordinary project.
Its creation is the result of dedicated teamwork between worldbest artisans – Fanzoj´s gunsmiths, stockmaker, saddler, tool and case maker - and the creative crew. The company guarantees that this weapon is unique and will never replicate the design idea. Collectors’ items of such quality take an incredibly long time to complete and require great personal commitment on the part of the firm. This is why they are rare, sought after and have and always will endure as desirable objects of lasting value.
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