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Basil
From: Canada
Posts: 65
Howdy all,

I've been enjoying reading all that I can in this wonderful forum about our loved coticules.

Since this newfound thirst for knowledge I've been trying to find what I can about the different layers. Is there anywhere that would give a breakdown of how the layers are named, and how many known layers there are?

Also I know I could do some research in the vault but what about coticule characteristics? What has everyone read that they can look and a stone and say it is this layer because of these markings?

Pretty much I just want to learn as much as I can and hopefully someone can help.

Thanks in advance.
Happy Shaving

Basil
2011-04-03 02:09
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Emmanuel Giannoulakis (Emmanuel)
Advisor
From: Greece
Posts: 942
Hi Basil. I believe you will learn much here. In this forum the knowledge is given generously, especially to the person that thirst. I would like to keep informed my other mates that Basil is my compatriot living in Canada and i am happy for that.
Βασιλη εχεις τους χαιρετισμους μου.
Best regards
Emmanuel
Emmanuel Giannoulakis
from Athens Greece
2011-04-03 22:03
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Basil
From: Canada
Posts: 65
Thank you for the warm welcome Emmanuel. Sometimes I wish my family never left from Greece. Especially when I have to deal with cold Canadian weather!

As for the thirst for knowledge I try to read all that I can from the forums. Maybe one day I'll be as informed as the members are here.
Happy Shaving

Basil
2011-04-04 01:23
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Bart Torfs (Bart)
Associate
From: Belgium
Posts: 5001
Identifying Coticule layers is a bit like identifying mushrooms.
We could sketch up a sort of taxonomy, but without proper experience, misidentification is very likely, all the more when one can only go by pictures. That said, I'm not one to withheld information, so her goes:

Start with reading this thread, it contains information about the Ol' Preu quarry.

I am following the numbers of the layers as they are listed in that thread. We have to start at number 4, because the first 3 are depleted, 4 is becoming rare, and 5 extremely rare at that particular location. Since Ardennes is currently only extracting Coticules at that location, there are no specimen available from other layers.

4. La Grosse Blanche.
Pale colored Coticule layer, that turns deep brown when exposed to (sun) light for a prolonged time. Black manganese lines and dots may be present. Sometimes brown needle-spots, spread over part of the surface, resembling pores (although the surface is non-porous).
Slurry has a characteristic soapy texture. Speed on slurry is fast to moderate. Speed on water generally very slow, but the presence of said brown spots predicts a faster behavior on water. Usually much "slurry dulling", but mellow, skin friendly edges when finished on water.

iconNote:
5. La Grosse Jaune (presumably called La Gros Grés by Dumont)
Coticule has a yellowish gray color that turns ochre yellow when wet. Presence of a grainy-looking pattern (although completely smooth to the touch), that is finer than that of La Grise (see there) and more reminiscing of wood pores than of wood fibers. On slurry this is one of the slower layers. On water the stones are slow, with a "magnetic" draw that resembles the "hybrid' side of Les Latneuses. Slurry has a consistency as if a lubricant was add. La Grosse Jaune Coticules are among the easiest to get perfection during the final honing stages.


6. La Dressante
6a. La Dressante au bleu
Always a combo with BBW. separation line sharply defined, and often curved. Coticule has a coffee-with-cream color, a bit darker than the rest of La Dressante. Possible presence of black manganese lines and dots. Possible prescence of red or orange lines. Surface of Coticule is not patterned, some bluish blotches may be present.
Speed on slurry is moderate, about in the middle of the spectrum. Slurry dulling is mild. Speed on water is slow (some discoloration of the water after a set of halfstrokes).

6b. La Dressante Upper Layer
The part of La Dressante that is not connected to the "lower" BBW part, hence mostly glued to slate. The most variable of all layers. Color can vary from pale to pink. Hues sometimes present in one stone. Manganese lines and dots possible. Manganese hairlines seem to predict very fast performance on slurry. Red, orange and yellow lines possible. Red lines seem to predict (relative) fast speed on water.
No surface pattern.
La Dressante upper layer has a clear feedback that transitions from textured on slurry to almost icy on water.
Speed can vary from moderately slow (rare) to fast (very common) and occasionally very fast.

7. La Veinette.
A very narrow layer, always bonded to BBW (unless the BBW is defect and they have to glue to slate).
Creamy Coticule part, no surface pattern. Often manganese lines or dots. BBW caries short or longer white stripes at the lateral side, parallel with the separation line. Abrasive properties very consistent throughout the layer. Moderately fast on slurry and (relative) moderate to slow on water, which means that it will darken the water before the end of one set halfstrokes. No much slurry dulling, which makes them easy to use. Typical feedback, grainy feel on slurry that evolves to a slight draw on water.

8. La Petite Blanche.
The second one of the narrow layers, always bonded to BBW.
Pale creamy color, no surface pattern. Characteristic blue line running at the lateral side of the Coticule part. Often purplish parts in the BBW near the transition line. Manganese lines may be present. Abrasive properties very consistent throughout the layer. Fast on slurry and (relative) moderately on water.

9. Les Latneuses.
A twin layer, consists of one "hybrid" part, sandwiched between 2 Coticule parts. Delivers combination stones "hybrid"/Coticule, and Coticules glued to slate. Hybrid side helps identification. Coticule is coffee-with-cream colored, manganese lines and spots possible. Sometimes orange-brownish lines. Also more pink colored Coticules with lighter yellow lines and dots. These are strikingly fast on water.
One side of Les Latneuses has series of blue hairlines running laterally in the Coticule part. This side is moderately fast on slurry. The other side has far less occurrence of these blue hairlines, and is very fast on slurry. Speed on water of Les Latneuses is variable throughout the layer. Coticule sides have in their feedback distinct textured aspect. The hybrid side is moderate speed on slurry, and has a different feedback, that is often described as "magnetic" on water only.

iconNote:
10. La Nouvelle Veine
Thicker layer that allows several slices of Coticule to be cut. Pale creamy color, often blotched with hazy blue spots. No real pattern as seen on La Grise, La Verte or La Grosse Jaune. Typical are a series of faint blue hairlines running in the lateral side of the Coticule part, parallel with the separation line (or glue line). Abrasive properties on slurry vary from slow to fast, depending on which part of the layer you got. It appears that on one side near the adjacent BBW, the layer is fast, while the stones bonded to the opposing BBW are slow. La Nouvelle Veines with a gradual transition to BBW are fast. The ones with a prompt transition are slower. Glued specimen can be anything in between, but generally are fast. On water, La Nouvelle Veine Coticules are slow to very slow. Fast-on-slurry La Nouvelle Veines exert much slurry dulling and require precise dilution to yield perfect results. They have that in common with La Grosse Blanche. It appears that these stones oblige the user to get it right, in which instance they deliver outstanding, mellow edges.


11. La Grise
Thicker layer that allows several slices of Coticule to be cut with consistent properties throughout the layer. Color mostly warm (yellowish) gray, but cool (bluish) gray occurs as well. Presence of a grainy-looking pattern (although completely smooth to the touch), that is reminiscing of wood grain. Natural combination stones mostly have a gradual transition to the BBW. Many La Grises are glued to slate. Speed on slurry centers around moderate, sometimes a bit faster, but usually slightly slower. Speed on water is (relative) slow, which means that the water will show signs of darkening after a set of halfstrokes, but not with regular (low pressure) X-strokes. La Grise Coticules have a glassy feel on water only, and mild slurry dulling. They are easy to yield good keenness.


12. La Verte
Thicker layer that allows several slices of Coticule to be cut with (mostly) consistent properties throughout the layer. Color is of a distinct greenish gray hue. Natural combination stones have a gradual transition to the blue of their BBW part. Presence of a grainy-looking pattern (although completely smooth to the touch), that is reminiscing of wood grain. They are both in look and feel related to La Grise, albeit La Verte Coticules are generally harder. Speed on slurry centers around moderately slow. They are faster on water than La Grise, which makes them excellent touch-up hones, and they can make up on water for neglected work in earlier honing stages.


13. La Veine aux Clous
Only 2 specimens tested so far. These were quite soft, slightly porous with an open texture that gave them a granular feedback. Very slow on slurry, with a lot of extraneous slurry release during the honing process. Bevel correction capabilities were limited, finishing, when performed under a running tap (to counteract the auto-slurry release), was on par with what I expect of a Coticule edge. This layer is - to my knowledge - not commercially exploited, but for completeness sake, and because it has a name, I am sharing this information for what it is worth. I repeat that I only tested 2, nearly identical, specimens of this layer.
Then the light shone, trumpets sounded and I got to the other side, where men shave with smiles on their faces, razors pop hairs, and a continuous choir singing «~~Keen and Smooth~~» is heard everywhere. (Matt)
2011-04-04 01:30
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Basil
From: Canada
Posts: 65
Wow Bart. Thanks for such an awesome post. This was exactly what I've been l been looking for!
Happy Shaving

Basil
2011-04-04 01:42
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altshaver
Posts: 90
Thanks for the very informative post, Bart. With regards to the La Veinette vein, I have read that some hones from this vein actually have a "hybrid" side attached to the Coticule side of the hone as opposed to having the Belgian Blue Whetstone side. Is this true?
2011-04-04 05:36
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Bart Torfs (Bart)
Associate
From: Belgium
Posts: 5001
iconaltshaver:
Thanks for the very informative post, Bart. With regards to the La Veinette vein, I have read that some hones from this vein actually have a "hybrid" side attached to the Coticule side of the hone as opposed to having the Belgian Blue Whetstone side. Is this true?

Yes, it is true. I have one home for assessment at the moment.
You have to realize that my descriptions are generalized. I can't predict it when individual stones will escape what I've written. Right now, at the current quarrying location, Ardennes is extracting the lowest curve of the deposit. It appears that the layers are coming much closer together at the bottom of that curve, some layers even dissapearing and other mixing together. I've seen the weirdest stones I ever saw during my last visit at Ardennes, not matching anything I ever saw, both vintage or extraction of the last decade. This doesn't mean that the layers are gone. The quarry occupies only a section of the deposit, they can expand it in Westwards direction if they wish, and they also own a mine several km to the North that taps in another Coticule deposit.
If they expand the quarry, we'll see more Coticules from the layers we already know. If they however reopen the mine, we'll see Coticules with properties that deviate from what we know. I've had the honor of testing a few rare samples (Vault n°2 - a La Grise from the Regné mine and Vault n°37 - a La Dressante from the Regné mine). They were strikingly similar to their respective cousins of the Ol'Preu quarry. Regné contains a couple layers that are not present at Ol'Prey (and vice versa). I was able to test a small sample of a layer called Les Petas. A most interesting experience. I really hope they will once mine these layers again.

In the next Vault addition, I'll have a description of the one of these "hybrid" La Veinettes.

Kind regards,
Bart.
Then the light shone, trumpets sounded and I got to the other side, where men shave with smiles on their faces, razors pop hairs, and a continuous choir singing «~~Keen and Smooth~~» is heard everywhere. (Matt)
2011-04-04 23:49
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whitebar
From: United States
Posts: 33
Bart, Your posts in this thread are a wealth of information about the currently mined coticule layers at the Ol' Preu quarry. This really should be a sticky so it can easily be found in the future. Thanks for sharing this with us!
2011-04-05 05:54
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Matt
Associate
From: Poland
Posts: 1047
Tremendous posts, Sir Bart, hats off!

I like the part about mushrooms. :)

cheers,
Matt
"Very interesting indeed :) I did something similar with cheese a while ago" - Dr Ralfson
2011-04-05 09:30
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Bart Torfs (Bart)
Associate
From: Belgium
Posts: 5001
I updated my first post to complete the information (the new additions are marked as "note").

The general idea is to turn a better written version of this text into a permanent article, with proper illustrations.
Nevertheless, this "layer mapping" is not completed yet for all the listed layers, in particular not for more complex layers like La Dressante and La Nouvelle Veine.
Futute amendments will be in order.

Kind regards,
Bart.
Then the light shone, trumpets sounded and I got to the other side, where men shave with smiles on their faces, razors pop hairs, and a continuous choir singing «~~Keen and Smooth~~» is heard everywhere. (Matt)
2011-04-05 15:04
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Basil
From: Canada
Posts: 65
I must say Bart I love reading your posts.

I keep coming back to this to read up on certain details from the layers.

The more I read though the more I feel like they are pokemon, gotta have them all! Lol
Happy Shaving

Basil
2011-04-20 15:17
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Loric
From: United States
Posts: 44
I also wanted to thank Bart for this set of posts. This put a lot of puzzle pieces in place for me!
So many razors so little time...
2011-04-23 06:29
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Michael Scharf (MichaelS)
From: Belgium
Posts: 16
Great posts Bart, thank you!
MichaelS
2011-05-19 12:31
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Loric
From: United States
Posts: 44
Some people refer to the two sides of Les Lat, top and bottom. Is the top the slower or faster one? I know I'v tried both, but aside from one being faster, I dont know what to call them.
So many razors so little time...
2011-10-04 00:35
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Bart Torfs (Bart)
Associate
From: Belgium
Posts: 5001
iconLoric:
Some people refer to the two sides of Les Lat, top and bottom. Is the top the slower or faster one? I know I'v tried both, but aside from one being faster, I dont know what to call them.


I don't know that either. As Coticules are sedimentary rock, they indeed were once formed from the bottom up. But geological activity has resulted in the layers now running in a series of vertical curves. As explained, Les Latneuses consists of 3 parts. We know the "hybrid" part fits in the middle, sandwiched between a fast band and a slower band. I like to refer to them that way: "fast band" and "slower band". I have no idea about their original order top to bottom.

Kind regards,
Bart.
Then the light shone, trumpets sounded and I got to the other side, where men shave with smiles on their faces, razors pop hairs, and a continuous choir singing «~~Keen and Smooth~~» is heard everywhere. (Matt)
2011-10-04 20:51