Antlers are the horn-like appendages of most
deer species, mainly grown by males. Each antler grows from an
attachment point on the skull. While an antler is growing it is covered
with a “skin” called velvet which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the
growing bone; once the antler has achieved its proper size, the velvet
is lost and the antler's bone dies. This dead bone structure is the
mature antler. Antlers are shed after each mating season.
The earliest recorded use of antler is in
ancient Chinese Traditional Medicine. They were ground and used in
tonics to treat various ailments.
During the Roman period, antlers are used for
decorative and practical purposes such as loop fasteners. Antlers were
also given to returning legionaries as trophies for participation in
From the Early Iron Age well into the Middle Ages some of the objects
made from antler were needles, buckles, fasteners, and combs. The ones
still existing today date mainly from the 9th-11th century and were
found in Vikings settlements.
Native Americans used antlers to create
handles for knives and hide scrapers, spear points, bracelets, combs,
hairpins, and figurines.
During the Medieval period buttons and beads
appear in Europe. Then with the advent of candles, there came a need for
candle holders and antlers were used for that purpose as well. Before
long, hand held candle holders lead to hanging candelabras. They adorned
castles throughout many countries including Germany, England and
Today antler chandeliers are as popular as ever. Their timeless beauty transcends styles and trends
Associated with aristocracy, antlers have adorned European castles and hunting
lodges for centuries. Today, furnishings and accessories made from antlers are
featured in fine homes throughout the world and are a reflection of grace and elegance.
Antlered Deer, Elk and Moose and most other antlered animals shed, or drop, their antlers
each year, and in their place grow new ones. These sheds are like fingerprints, and are as
unique as the animals that shed them. The beauty in every antler is what inspires our art.
Antlers are strong and solid and are art by themselves. Antlers are bony outgrowths that develop from and are attached to two protuberances called pedicles on top of the skull. While antlers are growing they are covered by a furry skin covering called velvet. The growing antlers and the velvet are supplied with oxygen and nutrients by a network of blood vessels. Growth and hardening of the antlers is completed in late July or August.
In August, increased production of testosterone cuts off the blood supply to the antlers and velvet. The velvet dies, dries up, and peels away. Further removal of velvet from antlers occurs during the rut. Among the testosterone-induced rut activities of the male, which begin in late August or September, is the thrashing of antlers against sapling trees and shrubs which rubs off the velvet and polishes the antlers while staining them. Next time you are hiking in the woods, you may see some signs of some antlered animals on trees where the bark is rubbed off.
The reduced daylight of winter diminishes testosterone production; this causes the shedding, or dropping, of antlers. Mature males shed them in February-March and younger males may retain theirs until May depending on what part of the country you live in. New antlers begin to grow within days after old ones drop.
Antlers are the fastest growing tissue known in the world. Caribou males and females both grow antlers; this is the only member of the deer family that this occurs. Horns and antler are not the same, true antler is calcified tissue. Horn, found on sheep, goat antelope and buffalo, are actually hairs growing off the head of these animals and "mold" into the form of the horn. Most horns do not shed. Antlers are a renewable resource and shed-horn hunting is a common activity throughout the world, providing antlers to many markets without causing harm to the animal. An adult moose can carry a 60 pound set of antlers.