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  1. #1
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    Default american hone co




    i acquired this hone from an old friend of my grand mothers while cleaning out his home after he died many years ago. i have no idea why, but tonight i picked it up (never used it before) to finish off the edge on my kershaw knife and just got the feeling there was something special about it. can anyone tell me anything about it at all? i found one on ebay selling for $99, identical in every way, but the ebay one has some chips in it but it has the box.

    the only markings on it are what you see on the top of it, but it is incredibly smooth.

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    It's Nice To Be Nice JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Welcome to SRP. That is what is known as a 'barber hone'. Used by barbers to touch up a razor that was slightly falling off in sharpness until they could get around to honing it on their regular hone. Good for touching up razors. Not sure if it is ideal for knives. Won't hurt the knife but it might wear the hone, although they are pretty hard.

    We don't allow appraisals here but IMO anyone who lists one of those at a hundred bucks is an optimist by far. Check out the SRP Wiki here for our beginner's guide if you have any interest in straight razor shaving.
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    im not trying to break any forum rules here or anything. its just that the info i founf about the company led me to believe this may be slightly rare.

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    It's Nice To Be Nice JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by classicaddict View Post
    im not trying to break any forum rules here or anything. its just that the info i founf about the company led me to believe this may be slightly rare.
    American Hone Co ended up in Monrovia, Iowa. I think they were in upstate NY before that. They made a large variety of barber hones. Finally went out of business when the use of straight razors by barbers went into decline. They made a good hone but I don't think they are rare. I may be wrong though. I was wrong once before.
    “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” attributed to Ian Maclaren, circa1897

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    American Hone Company was a side business to the Success Barber Supply Company/ Perfecto Products Co. which seems to still be in business in Moravia, Iowa.

    The reason the razor hone division went out of business is because that particular job was entrusted to just one person. Apparently this elderly woman was the only one who knew the formulas for manufacturing the hones and she died sometime around Christmas of 2004. Unfortunately she never recorded the methods or formulas, and didn't have an apprentice, so all of that razor hone knowledge went to the grave with her. An interesting note is that she supposedly learned the art of hone making from Franz Swatty (the Swatty hone) himself. Kind of a shame.

    I have some of their hones (barber hones) and I think they are very good quality hones. American hone made several kinds of barber hones. I believe that much of the remaining NOS hones were bought up, and then sold, by an SRP member Tilly(?) IIRC.

    The one you have looks similar in style to a Swatty synthetic razor hone. Maybe a carborundum hone, not sure. If it's very smooth as you claim, it may be a slow cutting synthetic hone. Should be a good one. You might consider selling this one to a straight razor user as there are probably more suitable, current production knife hones available for your Kershaw. Vintage barber hones in good shape are harder to find.
    Last edited by honedright; 02-09-2011 at 03:39 AM.

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    Forum mogwai thebigspendur's Avatar
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    yes, they made most of the barber hones you see with a whole variety of names reflecting different razor companies. When Tilly bought up the stock she also bought the dies to put the names in them and she sold those off too.
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    Hones & Honing randydance062449's Avatar
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    The lady's name was Lois. The company in Olean NY was sold in 1950(?) to Mr Johnson of Perfecto Products /Success Barber Supply who was a barber along with his oldest son and also operated a barber & beauty supply business at the time in Moravia,Iowa , lock, stock & barrel. The supplies and equipment were shipped via railcar. An employee from Olean was sent to Moravia to teach for a period of 4 months. Got this info from Charles Johnson, the current owner, the youngest of the 2 sons.
    Yes, she did take the knowledge of the process with her.
    Last edited by randydance062449; 02-10-2011 at 02:20 AM.
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    what Dad calls me nun2sharp's Avatar
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    It always seemed odd to me that nobody bothered to write this stuff down!
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    Actually I'm not sure the formula was not written down. I used to buy Frictionites, Super Punjabs, and the smaller hones that Lois used to make with Nason and Hoffritz stamped on them for myself, oboe students and professionals all over the world. I used to get a case of twelve or so at least once a year. Our knives are extremely hard, and these were the only man-made ones that could put a decent edge on them. Japanese waterstones are useless; ceramic is expensive and usually not the right size; and black hard or even translucent Arkansas have gone through the roof. So it was with great sadness that we learned of her passing. The story I was told some two months later was that they had indeed tried to follow her instructions, but could never get the fusion process to work - they kept separating. And so the remianing stock was all sold to a supply house on the East Coast - probably Tilly as mentioned above.

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    Hones & Honing randydance062449's Avatar
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    Actually, there is a box of recipe cards that lists the ingredients for each hone but the process was not written down. I now own the recipe cards.

    The fine side of the Frictionite and the Super Punjab used the same material but that natural abrasive is no longer available.

    Quote Originally Posted by DDHautbois View Post
    Actually I'm not sure the formula was not written down. I used to buy Frictionites, Super Punjabs, and the smaller hones that Lois used to make with Nason and Hoffritz stamped on them for myself, oboe students and professionals all over the world. I used to get a case of twelve or so at least once a year. Our knives are extremely hard, and these were the only man-made ones that could put a decent edge on them. Japanese waterstones are useless; ceramic is expensive and usually not the right size; and black hard or even translucent Arkansas have gone through the roof. So it was with great sadness that we learned of her passing. The story I was told some two months later was that they had indeed tried to follow her instructions, but could never get the fusion process to work - they kept separating. And so the remianing stock was all sold to a supply house on the East Coast - probably Tilly as mentioned above.
    Randolph Tuttle, a SRP Mentor for residents of Minnesota & western Wisconsin

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