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Japanese finds

M.B. Naegle

Titanium
Joined
Feb 7, 2011
Location
Conroe, TX USA
With the Hydraulic vise: I have a few milling vises built in similar fashion and love them. Two made by Saunders in England, and the other has no name but I suspect it's an old Hilma or other German/Swiss. I've never had to take the screw mechanisms apart on them so I don't know how complicated they are, but the design makes for an incredibly smooth operation that puts a ton of force into the clamp with little effort.

Thanks for the thread. Its fun to see what's around "over there", more than what gets brought in for our market over here. I don't want to derail your thread with the politics of it all, but I've always admired how the Germans and Japanese went from the ashes of war to being THE world leaders in so many aspects of technology and manufacturing.
 

Bakafish

Aluminum
Joined
Feb 21, 2022
Location
Tokyo Japan
Do you know any Katakana? I have a very old sharpening stone that I use for razors with some (what I was told is probably) Katakana that looks like it was done by hand with a brush; always wondered what it said. I think it's quite a ways pre-WW2, due to the fact that the saw marks on the sides appear to be made with a hand saw rather than a rotary cutter.
That's a mix of characters, Katakana and Kanji which are Chinese characters. Japanese use 3 different character sets, 4 if you count latinization called Roma-ji, and two different ways of reading the ~2000 Kanji characters they adopted from the Chinese character set. As near as I can tell (and I'm not in any way qualified) that script is "サー上大ビキ" but a native would likely do a much better job of understanding it. One of the possible readings of the Kanji characters '上' is upper and '大' usually means great or large. Pretty sure boasting it is a top quality grade stone. But the Katakana character set is typically used to differentiate foreign words, so I suspect this is talking about the origin or type of the stone itself, using a foreign term. I just don't know much about this very specialized market. As you well know, wheatstone's, chisels, planes, saws and hammers are all traditional goods that have industries that are generational and often hundreds of years old. They are all collected and can be astonishingly expensive, but are also easy to counterfeit, misattribute or overvalue.

As far as dating anything based on the method of manufacture or processing, I'd caution you to not make any assumptions. Japanese do not tamper with a process in the name of efficiency, tradition will almost always win, especially with these sorts of items. Being hand sawn and chiseled is precisely why these are valued, and no one is going to quickly change that process in the name of selling more stones in a market that is steeped in tradition and reputation. I'm not at all implying that yours isn't old or valuable, just you would need a professional in the field to recognise that handwriting, the source of the stone itself and the quality of the sample to evaluate the age. For these 'traditional' stones, I doubt very much the tooling used to quarry them today is any different than it was 300 years ago, although I'll state again I'm not an expert in this field.
 

eKretz

Diamond; Mod Squad
Joined
Mar 27, 2005
Location
Northwest Indiana, USA
That's a mix of characters, Katakana and Kanji which are Chinese characters. Japanese use 3 different character sets, 4 if you count latinization called Roma-ji, and two different ways of reading the ~2000 Kanji characters they adopted from the Chinese character set. As near as I can tell (and I'm not in any way qualified) that script is "サー上大ビキ" but a native would likely do a much better job of understanding it. One of the possible readings of the Kanji characters '上' is upper and '大' usually means great or large. Pretty sure boasting it is a top quality grade stone. But the Katakana character set is typically used to differentiate foreign words, so I suspect this is talking about the origin or type of the stone itself, using a foreign term. I just don't know much about this very specialized market. As you well know, wheatstone's, chisels, planes, saws and hammers are all traditional goods that have industries that are generational and often hundreds of years old. They are all collected and can be astonishingly expensive, but are also easy to counterfeit, misattribute or overvalue.

As far as dating anything based on the method of manufacture or processing, I'd caution you to not make any assumptions. Japanese do not tamper with a process in the name of efficiency, tradition will almost always win, especially with these sorts of items. Being hand sawn and chiseled is precisely why these are valued, and no one is going to quickly change that process in the name of selling more stones in a market that is steeped in tradition and reputation. I'm not at all implying that yours isn't old or valuable, just you would need a professional in the field to recognise that handwriting, the source of the stone itself and the quality of the sample to evaluate the age. For these 'traditional' stones, I doubt very much the tooling used to quarry them today is any different than it was 300 years ago, although I'll state again I'm not an expert in this field.

From what I understand, it changed in about the WW2 era. Possibly due to the war and the aftermath providing a lot of assistance and opportunity for upgrades to the equipment used in all trades. Even very old stones from that time used a sort of large circular saw to cut them to roughly rectangular shape. Before that the stones were sawed with a blade using reciprocal motion like an old hand wood saw might use. Before that, they were chiseled. That information is from some historical videos I've seen as well as firsthand information from a couple vendors who regularly travel to and deal with the sharpening stone miners and sellers in Japan. So far no one has been able to definitively tell me what my stone says. Possibly no one will. I purchased it directly from an eBay seller in Japan probably 10 years ago. Another clue to its age was the traditional wrapping that was on the stone, which is washi paper that is subsequently coated in cashew lacquer. It was pretty clearly VERY old. Also a real pain to remove...

I don't particularly care what it is worth. I plan on using it until I'm gone. Then wherever it goes, it goes. I will eventually probably either give it to my son or someone else if he has no interest. I have around 15 or 20 of these from various Japanese mines. I collect old antique sharpening stones, so I have quite a few.

Edit: here is a link to a video showing one of the old miners demonstrating the older reciprocal sawing method vs the more modern method. Relevant bit starts at ~4:55.

 
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Bakafish

Aluminum
Joined
Feb 21, 2022
Location
Tokyo Japan
Another clue to its age was the traditional wrapping that was on the stone, which is washi paper that is subsequently coated in cashew lacquer. It was pretty clearly VERY old. Also a real pain to remove...
This to my mind would be a better indicator of the age, although we're talking about million year old stones here :giggle: As I said, I'd be shocked if there are not still stones cut with a reciprocating saw today, for traditional or aesthetic reasons, and it took quite a while for post WW2 recovery to penetrate these sorts of industries.

They are certainly desirable items, just the knowledge to navigate and classify them seems like a lifetime endeavour. I use Shapton stones myself, I just couldn't deal with the deep dive I would need to do to try and accrue a natural set. But you should document your collection here in a thread and share what you know. Someone out there knows what stone that is, and someone else knows that person and will someday read this. They say the best way to solve a quandary on the internet is not to ask the question, but to give the wrong answer. I'm sure someone will correct my ignorance. :LOL:
 

eKretz

Diamond; Mod Squad
Joined
Mar 27, 2005
Location
Northwest Indiana, USA
This to my mind would be a better indicator of the age, although we're talking about million year old stones here :giggle: As I said, I'd be shocked if there are not still stones cut with a reciprocating saw today, for traditional or aesthetic reasons, and it took quite a while for post WW2 recovery to penetrate these sorts of industries.

They are certainly desirable items, just the knowledge to navigate and classify them seems like a lifetime endeavour. I use Shapton stones myself, I just couldn't deal with the deep dive I would need to do to try and accrue a natural set. But you should document your collection here in a thread and share what you know. Someone out there knows what stone that is, and someone else knows that person and will someday read this. They say the best way to solve a quandary on the internet is not to ask the question, but to give the wrong answer. I'm sure someone will correct my ignorance. :LOL:

Oh I have done that already. At places where it is more likely someone would know - straight razor shaving message boards - sharpening sections. There are all sorts of guys at those sites who are into Japanese stones. Nobody knows so far. What it might say is really more a curiosity to me at this point.

As far as the collection, it would be too much to go over. There are certainly well over a hundred stones. From Arkansas to Coticules to Thuringians to Silkstones to Japanese natural stones to little synthetic barber hones and old India stones from the turn of the century and on and on. Even some that I cut myself. I also have Naniwa, Suehiro and Shapton hones, as well as a handful each of DMT and Atoma diamond plates. Most of those were used to try out on razor edges and see which I liked best. I settled on Arkansas (black translucent - looks sort of light gray but passes light) and Japanese stones as my favorites.
 
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pat pounden

Aluminum
Joined
Jul 4, 2019
Oh I have done that already. At places where it is more likely someone would know - straight razor shaving message boards - sharpening sections. There are all sorts of guys at those sites who are into Japanese stones. Nobody knows so far. What it might say is really more a curiosity to me at this point.

As far as the collection, it would be too much to go over. There are certainly well over a hundred stones. From Arkansas to Coticules to Thuringians to Silkstones to Japanese natural stones to little synthetic barber hones and old India stones from the turn of the century and on and on. Even some that I cut myself. I also have Naniwa, Suehiro and Shapton hones, as well as a handful each of DMT and Atoma diamond plates. Most of those were used to try out on razor edges and see which I liked best. I settled on Arkansas (black translucent - looks sort of light gray but passes light) and Japanese stones as my favorites.
funny ....given the avatar! (razor sharpening)
 








 
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