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Mystery hones... Let's see what you have

Haha!

But yep - there's a ton of variation in Idwals, far more so than Charnleys. Most CFs can finish a razor very nicely, but are a little bit rubbish for knives, but that's not the case with Idwala. At the top end some of them can probably finish a little finer than the finest Charns, at the bottom end they can be Washita-like.

The term 'Grecian' is an interesting one, and I'm not sure anybody knows the etymology of it in regards to whetstones. Though I wouldn't be surprised if it had something to do with their similarity to 'Turkish' stones. Historically it seems to have been used interchangeably with 'Llyn Idwal', but then also (as @Legion said) there was one particular company - James Howarth and Sons - that sold a particular type of Idwal under the name 'Grecian Hone'. And when I use the term I tend to use it to refer to this specific type.

They sit around the middle of the Idwal grit range, but are particularly fast. And they can be distinguished visually; it's slightly difficult to describe but they have swirly black patterns that seem to be below the surface, and so have a holographic 3d effect, which I've tried to capture in the vids below. These 'Grecian Hones' and the Penrhiw Hones (which seem to be a little coarser), would be my favourite types of Idwal.





Youtube resolution really is pretty shoddy isn't it! Perhaps this closeup will work better to show the holographic thing...


 
Haha!

But yep - there's a ton of variation in Idwals, far more so than Charnleys. Most CFs can finish a razor very nicely, but are a little bit rubbish for knives, but that's not the case with Idwals. At the top end some of them can probably finish a little finer than the finest Charns, at the bottom end they can be Washita-like.

The term 'Grecian' is an interesting one, and I'm not sure anybody knows the etymology of it in regards to whetstones. Though I wouldn't be surprised if it had something to do with their similarity to 'Turkish' stones. Historically it seems to have been used interchangeably with 'Llyn Idwal', but then also (as @Legion said) there was one company - James Howarth and Sons - that sold a particular type of Idwal under the name 'Grecian Hone'. And when I use the term I tend to use it to refer to this specific type.

They sit around the middle of the Idwal grit range, but are unusually fast. And they can be distinguished visually; it's slightly difficult to describe, but they’re very pretty, with swirly black patterns that seem to be below the surface, and so have a holographic 3d effect, which I've tried to capture in the vids below. These 'Grecian Hones' and the Penrhiw Hones (which seem to be a little coarser), would be my favourite types of Idwal.



My Grecian is about equal to a translucent Ark in fineness but it's slower, even with a refreshed surface.
 
Ok that’s helpful. It’s like “every square, diamond, rhombus and rectangle is a quadrilateral”. Just a pretty generic term. I guess that makes a Grecian a quadrilateral from ~Mine X, more or less.

I’d associated Idwals with the harder, denser almost Charley like bricks. I’ll loosen my definition.


Oh and the last thing I’ll say is to emphasise ^this^ point that David made above…

The variation in these stones is in no way surprising. The term ‘Llyn Idwal’ has indeed become a generic, blanket term for all of the grey-green novaculite honestones of northern Wales.

In reality they came from multiple quarries across a large area. And like many historic whetstones they would have been primarily mined for building purposes, I’ve seen a lot of Idwal-type rock in floors, walls &c.

I know of at least three quarries; at Llyn Idwal, at Llyn Melynllyn, and the Penrhiw Hone quarry at Moel Siabod. Though there will be numerous others too. I don’t for instance know exactly where the ‘Grecian Hones’ came from.

All of which makes them (imo) a far broader and more interesting type of whetstone than Charnley Forests, which came from 2 or 3 (?) tiny quarries next to each other. Depending on the specific stone; a ‘Llyn Idwal’ could be either finer or coarser than any Charnley, softer or harder, faster or slower, or anywhere in between.
 
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Old hone cleaned,flattened and polished by me ,provide good finish.
Can it be thuringian?
 

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Old hone cleaned,flattened and polished by me ,provide good finish.
Can it be thuringian?



It's certainly not a Thuri.

Best guess from those pics would be that it's a weird old Tam (which I think it probably is), or just something unknown (of which there are about a squillion).

If you can measure the specific gravity that would tell a lot... Also where you got it from...
 
Look's like a Wastikivi Finnish whetstone. Finnish as in Finland not finishing stone.

Doesn’t look anything like the Wastikivi I have! Though I understand there are two or three slightly different types…(?)


I got it from UK.

It’s a weird old Tam. Nice!

I think the magnification pictures might’ve actually confused people. If you look at the non-magnified pic, this is a Tam every day of the week:


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And here’s one NOS from the Dalmore estate that I’ve just snapped a pic of (and which will shortly be wending its way to @Eshebert):

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The other thing of course to consider about any of this, is simple balance of probability...

Who has ever bought a mystery ebay or flea market stone that's turned out to be a Wastikivi or a Loos or whatever? No one. The stones are incredibly niche, the only reason anybody has heard of them is because of G&H. And there'll be dozens of other Scandi sharpening stones not mentioned in G&H, some of which may be far more common.

For instance for a lot of the last 1,500 ish years - Norwegian Ragstone was the No.1 top favourite sharpening stone in Europe. Why? Because back in the day the Vikings got around a bit, and they took sharp things with them, which needed sharpening.

Tams have been quarried and produced as whetstones in large quantities for the last several hundred years. In a country that spent an awful lot of that time wandering about the globe deciding that they also rather liked the look of other peoples' countries.

If anyone comes across an old, unidentifiable, natural whetstone that's not from your own country... it is overwhelmingly likely to be from the UK (or possibly some other, more minor, c.19th-colonial-empire-building-nation).
 
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I have a feeling I am about to lose most of my Sunday to a Google rabbit hole deep dive into the history of Scandinavian sharpening. This is the kind of thing that gets you divorced.



Well I expect it’s on your list already, but just in case not, Baug’s seminal Outland exploitation and long-distance trade AD 700–1200 – seen in the light of whetstone production and distribution is an absolute *must-read* in the genre!

And fear not - I’m sure the wife will completely understand the essential importance of your research.


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