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"New" coticules


Well-Known Member
Hi all,

there are still quite a few places that sell cotis these days. Before I found this place I was many times close to buing one. I still my go for one but maybe you folks can provide some info on these rocks.
I'm talking about these "standard" light beige colored stones with slate backing. Some times they are divided in select and standard. But all of them look the same in terms of color and surface homogeneity.
Just like this one :, or like the stones shown on ardennes-coticules.

I was wondering what's the story about these stones. Are they really all alike or will they be as individual as the ones in the vault? Where do they come from, who mines them? Is it a lotteria if I order one off the net? Are there quality differences among these stones and among the known suppliers. And what can be said about their sharpening capabilities, how do they compare to la Latnese, la Grise, and the rest?

Blue Dun

EDIT: OOps, placed this thread in the wrong sub-forum. Mod, could you please move to "coticule tavern"?
Hi Blue Dun,

There remains only one company that's still mining Coticule, and that's Ardennes Coticule. All coticules sold worldwide by various vendors all come form that one source. So are the Coticules in the Vault, who are in no way different than the Coticules that are commercially available. If you order at Dick, The Perfect Edge, Ardennes Coticule or any other place, you'll receive a fully serviceable Coticule. Could be La Grise, La Verte, La Nouvelle Veine, La Veinette, La Petite Blanche, La Grosse Blanche, La Dressante. These are the veins that deliver 99% of the current Coticule production. There are a few others layers that may be harvested in the foreseeable future, but today only occasionally turn up when they found a raw chuck that was out of reach with the ancient mining methods. Those layere call Les Petas, Les Latneuses, L' Allemande, La Veine aux Clous, and I may forget a few others.

That doesn't mean that I would call buying a Coticule a lottery. Sure they all have a bit of character of their own, but they all have a magnificent razor's edge in them. That is, because they use a quite unique natural abrasive medium: spessartine garnets, which look like this under magnification:

That's something entirel different than the spiky fragments of most other hones. If we would define the difference between a Coticule edge and that of another type of hone as 100% than the variability between different Coticules would only occupy a range of 5% maximum.
Differences between Coticules are not so much in the final outcome than in the peculiarities to get there: speed on slurry is one of the most variable properties, but the physical length of the hone is at least an equally big factor on the time it takes to remove some steel.

All that said, synthetic hones are more consistently the same obviously. We're dealing with a natural product here, and small variances are to be taken for granted. In the future Coticules will be sold with a properties label and a layer name, at a bit of extra cost. But in the end, an unlabeled one will provide edges that are just as good.

Kind regards,

just the kind of information I was looking for! Thanks a lot :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

One more thing about "new" and vintage coticules ...

Like with many other items of daily use you hear often that what is available today is not what was it used to be the past. Just recently I talked to a guy in a knife shop with several generations of experience (allegedly). When we came to talk about cotis he started the same song: "Ya know, in the early days these rocks were sooo much different. We tried some newer ones but they just weren't the same. So today we still hone on the ones grandpa left to us ..."

Personally, I'm sceptical about everything being better in the early days. There's so much glorification with that and if you look closer you'll find that most was not better at all. However, many of you guys have older and new cotis so I'd be interested in your personal experience ...
It's absolute bollocks. Coticule layers run vertically into the underground. Mining starts on top, and just evolves down. Obviously, the deeper you get, the more expensive is becomes, to the point where it may be no longer economically feasible to extract. But the properties of the layers are just the same. I have compared enough vintage Coticules to recently mined ones and there was zero indication about any quality differences.
There were more mining sites in the past, with more layers being accessed, and there also was a much larger classification system, that mainly favored faster Coticules as "better", although there are literature sources that indicate that some sharpening professionals (who use to travel barberahops) utilized fast Coticules for the bulk of the work and slow, "hard" Coticules for finishing. (according to Ch. Gaspard, in L'Industrie de la pierre à rasoir dans la région de Sart-Lierneux)

The sharpening methods found on all depend on the user's skill to apply the principles correctly. If that premise is met, the resulting edges will all be within a narrow landing zone. If the premise is not met, the results will suck as hard coming off a vintage Coticules as they would suck off a new one.

Kind regards,