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Dieppe and ivory

In the 17th century an ivory trade developed between Dieppe and Guinea. The town prospers anew thanks to the ivory work, famous throughout France and beyond. The production is varied and unequaled in its refinement: solar discs, statues, tobacco graters, portraits in medals are proof of this flourishing activity


The abundance of ivory, the size and beautiful quality enabled the sculptors to forget the constraints due to the lack of materials. The sea, ever present in the life of the town, will also be in the creations. The skilled hands of the ivory sculptors who worked in the twelve main work-shops paid homage to the sea. They created model boats, compass dials, statues representing sailors, fishermen and fish mongers. An activity was born, which was to grow bigger and evolve according to the fashion and periods. A true dynasty of ivory sculptors was thus started. During the end of the 17th century, following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, hundred and forty families left and the town was almost destroyed by an Anglo-Dutch fleet in 1694. The activity saw a temporary decline but soon recovered. Two families dominated the production: The Cruppevolle’s and The Belleteste’s. They carried on the trade from the 18th to the 19th centuries.


Today the Castle Museum in Dieppe has Europe’s largest ivory collection with over 1000 finely sculpted pieces. The town was also on the Ivory and Spice route which crossed the department, and you can discover various sites pertaining to this route.


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