a new bone?

dyed bone

The Library Preservation blog mentioned a very cool Martha Stewert branded bone folder, made from melamine.  I also picked up a nifty new bone from a flea market, but haven’t been able to identify the material it is made from. The coloring appears to penetrate the thickness. It has the density, rigidity and pore structure of bone.  But the mottled appearance and seams on the edges could indicate tortoise shell which has been laminated.  Or it might be some kind of horn.

Cobbler’s Bones

 

bones

    Hirth & Krause, Dealers in…Leather and Findings. Shoe Store Supplies, etc. Grand Rapids, MI: 1890.( p. 46) 

Kevin Driedger , who writes the interesting Library Preservation blog, posted a useful comment a couple of months ago, wondering if I was making an erroneous assumption about how a Turkish bone was used.  I guessed it was used for marking.  Lately while reading a old supply catalogue for the shoemakers I realized it that shoemakers have two distinct types of bones, termed scratch bones and slick bones.  Now I’m convinced that the Turkish cobbler’s bone I wrote about is a scratch bone.  Turkish shoemakers now make European style shoes, not Ottoman.

Judging from the catalog descriptions, it seems the scratch bones (similar to a scratch awl?) were used for marking, and slick bone was used for burnishing or smoothing.  I wonder if the right angles on the left end were also used to scratch a line?  This shape, seems to have served as the template for the most common shape that bookbinders use, with one flat and one rounded or pointed end.

Below is a slick bone that I purchased with some other shoemakers tools.  It is thicker than most of the cow bone folders that are commercially available to now, and has a pleasing natural shape.  The facets of the somewhat crude shape are highly burnished, suggesting it was used with a far amount of force or speed, the accumulation of glue residue and deep scratches give it a gorgeous patina from use.

cobblers-bone

Turkish Bone Folder

It’s hard to imagine a simpler and more utilitarian tool than a bone folder, but shape of the folder below is unmistakably Islamic or Turkish looking.  I’ve never seen a tip like this on a European or American bone. It amazes me that such a simple shape can embody the complexities of national identity.  It closely resembles a minaret or arch.  This one was purchased from a cobblers supply store in Istanbul, is made from a fairly dense (cow?) bone, rapidly fabricated with many deep scratches. 


      

 

 


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