Ivory collection left for others to enjoy

Ivory collection left for others to enjoy

Jim Kunkle worked with Tri State Tool for over 30 years before he retired a few years ago, 25 of those years spent working here in Alaska and living in Nikiski. He recalls being in Seward when he bought his first five cared ivory pieces, “From then on I guess I got the fever and it was just buy, buy, buy. Some of the carvers I got to know personally like the guy from Savoonga who did those dog teams, he’s dead now and I haven’t seen anyone can carve like he could, it’s an art that isn’t being equaled anymore,” Kunkle recently told the Dispatch while visiting his collection with his grandson who lives in Washington D.C. When Kunkle retired to his great-grandfathers 76 acre farm in Pennsylvania a few years back he insisted the collection stay in Alaska as a collection. One of his favorite pieces is caribou herd being attacked by a wolf pack, “Look at that wolf going for the throat of the caribou, it looks like it’s really happening its so life like, you don’t see that kind of detail anymore,” he said.

The Kunkle collection has some 90 pieces that Jim has put together over the last quarter century, “The ivory is from Alaska, the carvers are Alaskan and the scenes are of Alaska. People in Pennsylvania like horse and buggies and don’t know anything about a dog team, I like Alaskans and visitors here to see this Alaskan art,” he said. According to Tami Murray, executive director for the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and visitor center the collection has had a few homes, starting out at First National Bank in Kenai, “Kunkle would stop by himself to make sure the water dish was full in the case, (ivory needs humidity or it will crack). After a few years it was moved to the Kenai Cultural Center and in October of 2013 it was moved here to Soldotna. Jim calls the visitor center a few times a month to check on his collection and to chat about what is happening in Soldotna, he loves Alaska but his heart is in Creekside Pennsylvania on his family farm. He visits every couple years, spending a few weeks catching up with friends while coming into the visitor center daily (if he can) to visit with the collection. He can remember details about each piece, who he purchased them from and why. It’s fun to talk with ‘Kunkle’ his stories about his collection and his time in Alaska are amazing. We’re happy to have it here to share with visitors, it tells an Alaskan story that I hope will never be lost,” said Murray.

Ivory collection left for others to enjoy
Ivory collection left for others to enjoy

More in News

Assembly President Brent Johnson asks questions of representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during a joint work session of the School Board and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough to enter contract for asbestos flooring abatement in 3 central peninsula schools

The work will be done at Kenai Central High, Kenai Alternative High and Sterling Elementary schools

Alaska State Troopers logo.
1 dead, 3 missing after boat capsizes near Seward

Alaska State Troopers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard of an overturned vessel around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday

Kenai Central High School stands under clear skies in Kenai, Alaska, on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough approves contract for KCHS parking lot rehabilitation

Soldotna-based Foster Construction will be awarded the bid of $648,997 to complete the project

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital to host Cancer Survivor’s Day event

The event will take place Sunday, June 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks to the joint Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday.
Carpenter gives wrap up on session as he nears end of House term

Carpenter is seeking election to state Senate District D

(from left to right) Jachin Sanchez, Carter Lemons, Rowan Mahoney, Adelyn McCorison and Taylor Rickard graduated from Ninilchik School on Monday, May 13, 2024 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Photo provided by Mattea Peters-Williamson
Ninilchik graduates 5 in 2024 commencement

The school held the ceremony Monday, May 13

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee adjourns

The committee will deliver recommendations to school board in July

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out corroded insulation outside of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 in Soldotna . (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna Elementary awaits action on approved bond

Almost two years after public OKs bond, borough asking for more time

Most Read