An 'ivory-turner' is defined by the Routledge Dictionary of Historical Slang as a 'skilful dicer'. He used dice, made of ivory, for his gaming. This rascal shows up in many a Regency novel.
But aside from the cant meaning of the phrase, ivory-turning was a respectable, and profitable, profession. Dice-making was a different trade entirely. Turning meant working with a treadle lathe on projects made of soft woods, and hard materials such as ebony, ivory, and hardwoods such as box.
Thomas Lund was one such turner. He began as a box-maker in about 1804 at 56-57 Cornhill, London. It might be his father who is mentioned in the 'Deaths' column of The Monthly Magazine, February 1806, -- "Mr. John Lund, the first known ivory turner in York, 77."
We know little about Thomas Lund except for the pieces of his work which have come down to the present day.
The label on the box is particularly evocative of the Regency era...
These pictures are from The Hygra ("Antique Boxes at the Sign of the Hygra", London) where you can read about the history of such boxes, and purchase them.
Another popular item for production by ivory-turners was chess-sets. Lund became well-known for them, and they became a specialty of the company throughout the nineteenth century, particularly after William joined his father in business in 1835.
Another well-known Regency era ivory and wood turner was Hugh Robertson of Edinburgh. He was a maker of all kinds of pipes, including bagpipes, and turning of both wood and ivory was used in their manufacture. An ebay.com image shows the turning required for bagpipe construction...
Here is an exquisite example of the ivory turner's work from Online Galleries.com. Click on the link for more views of this box...
'Til next time,