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By JohnPW
I've got this Norton Abrasives Arkansas (hard white)Pocket Stone, seems to be new old stock. It's very small: 50x20x6mm.

Does anyone know how old it is?

The label on the stone is a transfer/decal, the colours are very bright. Some clues that might help are:

"Pike" brand name on stone and box,
"Behr Manning, Troy, NY, USA (division of Norton Company)" on box.

It seems Norton bought Pike and Behr Manning in the 1930s. And Saint-Gobain bought Norton in 1990.

I found this quote about a different Norton Hard Arkansas stone on the web but I don't know if it's accurate:
stone was cut, packaged and sold sometime between 1931 and the mid 1950s, the label shows both the Pike and Behr Manning logos
Last edited by JohnPW on 08 Feb 2018, 18:26, edited 2 times in total.
By D_W
I don't have hard data for you, but I'd suggest that the quote you provided is in the ballpark. Much later than that, and the labeling was norton/behr manning and in blue, and later yet, no label.
By Cheshirechappie
I was going to suggest that you don't date that on the grounds that it looks a bit stony-faced, but I thought better of it.

It's Novaculite, which was laid down during the Devonian period (420-360 million years ago), but it may have been subjected to some metamorphism since then.

So it's quite old. Entitled to it's bus pass, anyway.
By CStanford
As somebody else implied, given the geological era in which these formed I'm hard-pressed to understand how 50 years difference in when they were mined matters at all. I've been told that the mines didn't play out of quality material, rather the market more or less collapsed. Assertions to the contrary are just internet lore and marketing.

If you live in the Hot Springs, Arkansas area, and enjoy an outing, you can find perfectly acceptable material just lying on the ground if you halfway know where to look. You'll need to cut it and flatten it though.
By D_W
Despite that assumption, Norton's recent offerings haven't been the best fine stones. However, the dans fine stones are as good as any I've seen from any era or maker. Dan said there is no shortfall of that material coming as long as the market supports the cost of going as deep as needed for the better material.
By CStanford
Don't know. I have an 'old' (hell, they're all millenia old) #1 Norton Washita 8x2x1 and it has a very distinct good and bad side. Came with one of those old labels barely adhered to it. That it was mined a while back is indisputable.
By D_W
If it's different on both sides, that's probably why it's a #1. The #1s that I've had (two of them), one was identical to a lilywhite (I'm guessing they had all good stock at the time they were processing, but needed to fill #1 orders with lilywhite quality stuff - still have to make those price tiers, even if everything is good). The other was mottled on one side and more clear on the other (but it had a label, so I didn't try the back side). What's bad about the bad side, or is it just different?

You're talking about washitas and arkansas stones interchangable, but they're different. There is an old pike write-up on google somewhere that they're showing guys pushing carts out of mines (or following them) and they say that the pike washita mine comes out in giant clear sections. That's the mine area that Roy Underhill talks about being able to take stone off of the surface. I don't think it would run out in a few hundred years, but Norton thinks it isn't worth opening, and let's be honest - there's not much of a market. They'd sell $80 stones quickly at first and then none again. They're an industrial abrasives company, anyway - why would they want to fool with cutting stones. Now, Norton's stock for fine stones (arkansas, washita) has always been a lot more difficult to work with (to get a clear stone with no inclusions). They probably waste 10 times the stone volume of a finished 8x2 stone, but maybe that's just what they have in their mine.

I said something to that effect to someone who has been in the dan's factory, and he said that the black and trans material that dans has comes out in large uniform bricks that they can cut without as much processing. I think they just have better material to start with, but Dan also said the key is spending what it costs to go deep enough for the better stock, so it sounds more like a mine to mine thing.

I can't imagine that it's worth the trouble for Norton to keep selling natural stones when they make their money with manufactured goods and can control the process better. If they disappear, it doesn't sound like Dan's is going to run out of stock they can get unless the price drops.

The only two natural stones that I'm aware of actually depleting are the old upper-mine stones from some of the japanese mines (there are still lower strata stones) that have been open for several hundred years. Surface stone can't be used for that, either - if it goes through freeze and thaw cycles, it's junk. And, the true escher stones. There's plenty of other stone material in thuringia, it appears, but it's all darker and coarser. Escher closed when they ran out. Maybe there's more near it, but nobody has gone to the trouble of finding it (though scam artists still sell the junk they're pulling out as "original escher" or other names). There was still enough demand for the stones when the mine ran out that someone tried to set up a subsequent company sintering the dust from processing the original stones, but they're apparently no good.
By CStanford
Fifty stones arranged on a table with no identifying markers, you wouldn't be able to tell a "Dan's" from a Norton, from a Magnet Cove Stone, Co., one from a Hiram Whittington mine, and on and on at a rate higher than that indicated by chance.

Otherwise, what you are suggesting is that a firm like Norton would go out of their way to reject a vein of high-quality material in order to keep quality at some arbitrary low(er) level. Perhaps Dan's has a very high rejection rate compared to everybody else who've ever been in the business, but I doubt it very much. Marketing hype and ad copy. There are four pages' worth of Dan's Whetstone Co. products offered on Amazon. Norton has two. Sharpening Supplies Co. online regularly has a stockout on Norton hard and translucent stones. Dan's may be less a 'boutique' operation than you think.

Interesting links: ... one%20Rock ... tryID=4129
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By nabs
an interesting potted history of sharpening stones - including plaudits for Arkansas and Washita stones - is here: ... &q&f=false

I reproduced the images for brits in case they can't see the book

Also an account from 1898 that explains Pike had a practical monopoly on the production of these stones and how the 'foreigners' (that's us lot , bar the Americans) were finally cottoning on to how good they were. About time, too!



The Mineral Industry, Volume 6, 1898
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By nabs
and a bit more relevant to the OPs question, this Norton catalogue from 1935 shows the same label design, but there is no mention of 'pocket' stones.

interesting to see that man-made india stones cost the same as the best washita, and that Hard Arkansas are 5x the price (reflecting the cost involved in cutting them?). ... 5/mode/2up