This fine, vintage Charnley Forest stone is one of the most mysterious looking hones in the collection. It’s an olive green with maroon streaks in it and is about 11″ long by 2″ wide. As I cleaned and lapped it, the telltale honing marks revealed the previous owner’s honing style of using the edge of the stone about 1″ in from the end and then turning the stone around and honing the other side of the blade the same way. I believe he was right handed. The box looks like mahogany and this stone came to me from England.
The two rather unremarkable looking stones are from Eidsborg, Norway. The quarry there was in continuous production since the 1200s and only recently closed. These are the stones used by the Vikings. They hung them around their neck as Vikings didn’t have pockets. They heat treated these stones to improve their honing qualities and the stones were carried along trade routes throughout the Neolithic Age. The lighter colored stone is the raw stone and the dark grey stone has been tempered. Eidsborg is just west of Telemark which is famous for inventing cross country skiing. There is a museum in Eidsborg and they have photos of what look like stacks of cordwood but which are stacks of split stone mined from the quarry. Quantities of these stones were imported to the U.S. over 100 years ago as scythe stones and can still be found commonly at yard or estate sales. These stones came from the museum but they are no longer able to supply them.
The two stones to the left are a yellow-green Escher mounted on a paddle and a Belgian Yellow Coticule. I’ve put them side by side for color comparison. These are some of the finest hones in the world for honing straight razors and microtomes (a knife used to section individual cells in cellular biology). The Eschers are no longer mined as the quarry ran out but limited supplies are occasionally available as someone finds a boulder in the mine tailings and cuts it up into New Old Stock (NOS) stones. These stones are finishing stones in the 8000+ grit range.
This stone is a “bout” which is an odd-shaped Belgian Yellow Coticule with beautiful figure which is similar to the grain in wood. The figure is purely cosmetic and has no effect on the honing qualities. The Belgians make “bout” (pronounced BOO) as they are a family quarry which doesn’t waste good stone just because it won’t fit into the usual rectangular form factor. The bout are Select grade, mounted on slate, and marketed by the square inch. The stone above is about 12 sq. inches.
This fine, vintage Belgian Yellow Coticule photo was submitted by Jon Grace. Note the veins and other figure in the stone. These are often mistaken for fissures or cracks but in the Select grade are usually just veins.
stone Pike quarried in New Hampshire. The stone is actually a gray color. Pike imported natural stone from Norway and Belgium
prior to being bought out by the Norton Co. of Worcester, MA around 1930. At that time Pike was made the sales arm of Norton and
the importation of natural stones ceased.