The sound of the gavel signifies the commencement or adjournment of a Senate meeting, and is used throughout the meeting to call for order in the chamber. The gavel is made of ivory and has an intricate carved center band. It is uniquely shaped; it has no handle. The government of India presented the gavel to the Senate in 1954 after the old gavel splintered during a debate. At the start of each day’s session a Senate Page carries a small mahogany box, which houses both the original Senate gavel and the gavel in current use, into the chamber and places it on the presiding officer’s desk.
The earlier gavel was in use by 1834, and according to one account, Vice President John Adams used it to call the first Senate to order in New York City on March 4, 1789. That gavel has silver plates affixed to either end.