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Ivory Craftsman in Badsey in the 1950s - Bertram Jones

Bertram A Jones was an ivory craftsman who worked in Badsey in the 1950s. He lived at Vine Cottage in Chapel Street. His small workshop was at the rear in another cottage - the first in a short row that were pulled down to make space for the Garden of Remembrance in the south east corner of the churchyard.

Popularly known as 'Ivory Jones', he was one of very few ivory carvers working in England at the time. His great grandfather was an ivory carver and the trade had been passed down in his family. Bertram served a three year apprenticeship and made a range of articles from ivory including paper knives, necklaces, chess men, and stop knobs for church organs. Maceys Department Store in New York ordered handmade chess sets from him. One of the family trade secrets was a method of dying ivory a blood red tint. This colour was used on early billiard balls.

In February 1962 the Evesham Journal published an article about him with a photograph. By this time he had retired.

His tombstone in Badsey churchyard reads:


Today there is a worldwide ban on trading and manufacturing in ivory in order to protect elephants. In the 1950s attitudes to ivory were different and Bertram had no difficulty in buying ivory from a supplier in London, although it was an expensive material.

See also:  A film clip from Midland News, 12th March 1957, held at MACE (Media Archive for Central England).

Bertram and Ellen Jones outside Vine Cottage showing an elephants tusk and an ivory chess set.
Bertram and Ellen Jones outside Vine Cottage showing an elephant tusk and an ivory chess set. Second from the left is the Vicar of Badsey, Peter Braby. On the left is the Bishop of Worcester, Dr L M Charles-Edwards, and in the middle is the Bishop's Chaplain.

August 1962 - photo kindly loaned by Anna Tucker.