ICE Issue 9

33 The Israel Chemist and Chemical Engineer Issue 9 · January 2023 · Tevet 5783 History of Chemistry Articles keratin, the protein found in hair, feathers, nails, horns and hooves [see Figure 2(d)]. The method used by Dan could not point at a specific animal, except to establish that it was a mammal. From the size of the chess pieces, Dan suggested that their source was either equine or bovine hooves. From a literature search I learned that hooves are built of several layers and are far from being homogenous, as they seem to be from the outside. Their only use is grounding them to powder for fertilizers and animal feed. However, chess sets made of horns were on sale in the mid-20th century, mainly in the USSR. Today, copies are manufactured in Vietnam from buffalo horns. Among the photos of the Vietnamese products on sale, I found sets similar to mine, but obviously more shiny and not peeling (Figure 4). I informed Dan of this and he promised to repeat the analysis with a method he was currently developing, that would establish the horn origin more precisely. A week later I received the second answer: The existing databases negated equine origin, but still could not distinguish between bovine and ovine origin. The bottom line is that I can relax. My chess set is almost certainly made of sheep horn. References [1] Mark Jacobson, The Lampshade: A Holocaust Detective Story from Buchenwald to New Orleans, Simon & Schuster, USA, 2010. [2] Matthew Collins et al., Spectroscopy Europe, 2010, 22, 6–10.