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Period Slates and Slate Pencils

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See how slates and slate pencils were made long ago, and how our rough slates are made today.

Our Rough Hard Wood Framed Slate shown with
Rocky Stone Slate Pencil

Sharon from Lorenzo State Historic Site In New York writes of our "rough slates"... "I just wanted to let you know that the slates and pencils arrived yesterday and they look wonderful. We have our first “immersion class” today so it was perfect timing. Our schoolmarm is most appreciative!"
From Laura Watt, Heritage Interpretation, Grey Roots Museum & Archives, Owen Sound, ON. writes of our machine made slates... The slates look amazing, thank you, I can’t wait to use them in our program! And thank you for allowing us to arrange for an in-person pick up!

Real Slates

We are very proud to offer two different slates in our line up. Our Rough Slates and Machine Made slates are both suitable for museum programming, but the rough slates have an older and slightly more period look to them. Neither have the words "Made in ........" on them so they are suitable for museum work while others are not.

Rough Slates - FINALLY available again! - approximately 21.5 by 27 cm. (7 3/4 inch by 9 3/4 inch size.) outside measurements. Just holding one of these in one hand you will immediately feel the difference. They are much rougher and heavier than the highly polished slates you normally see with frames made from hard wood. Thus, they look more like they would have at a time when sanding equipment was expensive and hard to find. The slate is also slightly loose in the frame making them more durable. They look almost exactly like the one in the lower left "Historic" photo. We caution that these slates are rough and unpolished so we generally recommend you use the machine made slates for gift shops. These are particularly good for the earliest settled areas of North America.

Machine Made Slates - approximately 19.5 by 25cm. (8.5 inch by 10.5 inch size.) outside measurements. We now offer a line up of less expensive machine made slates from the same factory. These are also more period than slates from other manufacturers today due to no text on them. The frame is more finely sanded to give it a more "polished" look, but there is no actual finish on it. Less weight means less expensive shipping for gift shops. These may be more appropriate for "Later period museums" or if you already have a number of them from another manufacturer that you wish to match, then these MIGHT match better.

To clean printing from slates Our Manufacturer mentions the following... "there is a finishing coat on slate boards. Normally use only dry cloth to clean them but sometimes you can clean a slate with water too as long as you don't rub it hard."

Real Slate Pencils

We now have two types of slate pencils available. One is made from traditional slate, and one from what is called Rocky Stone.

New slate pencils from Rocky Stone. (See photo bottom right.) These great slate pencils made of stone make a mark more like a very thin chalk, but slightly wider than the more traditional slate pencils. Writing or printing with these is just as easy as writing or printing with chalk. These allow slates to be used for a much longer time without getting scratched etc. The marks (letters) also come off of the slate much easier with a rag, sleeve, or what ever, just as in the old days. A few people who are not familiar with these might see them as non traditional although they actually were used in older times right until today. They do break easier than pencils of slate, but the two pieces left after they break are actually quite durable as a long chalk breaks easily into two pieces but produces two pieces of very durable useful material. These are light beige colour. There is no wood around them. These are not made from a "Manufactured Material". We highly recommend these new pencils for very young visitors to your historic school.

We also carry the pencils made from grey slate stone material. (See top and bottom pencils in photo below.) These are slightly less apt to break. However, these are much harder for kids to use. They scratch the slates to make them almost unusable very easily, and still break very easily as well. These are a medium to dark grey in colour.

Many museums now order both types from us, and use the Rocky Stone pencils for very young visitors and the grey ones for adults.

A Slate Story

My father often told of using a slate in school just as they were being phased out. He got smart one day and realized that the teacher always asked them to write down the words in spelling in the same order as they were given in their text book. So, before school he wrote them all down on his slate ahead of time. Didn't work though. Never asked him the punishment but it was likely severe! Even in my days, two spelling mistakes meant two hits with the strap, etc. (lol)

Slate Pencils Made From

Slate Pictures to Copy
St Nicholas, vol 6,
December 1878
From "Antiques of American
Childhood" By
Kathryn Morrison McClinton

2 Slate Pencils made of slate
and 1 made of Rocky Stone

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Page last modified on April 20, 2015, at 12:26 PM