Maggie Campbell Pedersen
Tortoiseshell, derived from marine turtles, has been used in decorative work for thousands of years. It featured in trade with, amongst others, the Babylonians and the Romans. In Europe it was used for furniture veneer in the seventeenth century, while in Polynesia it was used for personal adornment although turtles were viewed as sacred. Today it is important to be able to recognise tortoiseshell as all marine turtles are protected species and subject to global trade bans. This book covers the historical use of tortoiseshell in various parts of the world; how tortoiseshell artefacts were made, from moulding to pique work; turtles species, their habitats, and their conservation status today; the identification of tortoiseshell, and how to distinguish it from imitations, notably horn or the early plastics such as celluloid; testing methods , both simple and advanced and finally, information on laws and regulatory bodies. This is the only book that covers tortoiseshell from all aspects.
Tortoiseshell by Maggie Campbell Pedersen

About the author

Maggie Campbell Pedersen is a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, and an Associate of the British Institute of Professional Photography. For many years she has specialised in organic gem materials - that is, those of plant or animal origin - where her work includes identification, teaching, writing and research. She has given lectures and seminars world-wide and is a regular contributor to gemmological publications. Thanks to her interest in conservation she has also spent time as a research assistant in various parts of the world, working with endangered species such as elephants and marine turtles, from which ivory and tortoiseshell were derived.

Press Reviews

I absolutely loved this book! Whether you are a gemmologist looking for expertise in tortoiseshell artefacts, or a chelonian enthusiast wishing to learn about this aspect of the sea turtle, there is a mine of information here – so much so that I’ve found it hard to choose which snippets to include in this review. The author has been called the ‘Organics Queen’ of her field due to her vast knowledge of the subject. I learnt so much from this book it was a privilege to read it and recommend it. Why ‘tortoiseshell’ anyway, when they are turtles? Read the book and you’ll find out!

- Christine Tilley