Most Expensive Natural Whetstones...

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cotedupy

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I was thinking about this the other day, because in my mind I've always had jnats as rather expensive in the world of natural stones, but they're probably not really, I don’t imagine...

Japanese stones are very often cut in sizes that would be gargantuan for other types of natural stone. I imagine that even some very fancy jnats might work out quite favourably in terms of $ / g in comparison to some other things; Tam O'Shanter, Water of Ayr, Coticules, Translucent Arks, Thuringians, &c. I might run some numbers on this sometime if I'm feeling particularly bored one day, but in the mean time for a bit of fun: what do people reckon are the most expensive natural whetstones out there in terms of price per gram?

The prices that WoA x TO'S Dual Hones seem to fetch could put them up there? A Salm Coticule would be higher though perhaps? Or maybe a nicely boxed old Escher? Or Saxonian? How much would a Fiddich River fetch if ever anyone wanted to sell one? Or are smart jnats still top of the table after all?


[I'm gonna exclude; mega rare 'one-off' type stones like a jnat with some bizarre pattern that they find once in a lifetime, or 'Thomas Jefferson's Coticule', stuff that's completely unbuyable like Moughtons, as well as Lydian Stones because they're just silly.

Also - I am not trying to get into questions of 'value for money' as that will depend on a billion other things like personal preference, rate of wear, blah blah blah. Just a price per weight or volume thing. ]
 
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I think JNAT’s occupy a stratosphere in price that other stones are just levels below. Here is what’s on Yahoo Auctions Japan right now: Sorted high to low

I’ve seen bidders pushing prices into the high $2000 range. It really makes me wonder, what do you actually get for that much money? It would be strange to call in love with a $3k rock that you can’t afford if it makes your $150 rock feel like junk. Just my personal feeling, JNAT’s are kinda in their own world.

Anyways, I’ve wondered this same question for everything outside of JNAT’s. Premium Arks can get pricey but they come in decently large sizes. Other stones are both smaller and more rare, so great question. What is, gm for gm, the most coveted type of whetstone?

I would guess an Escher…?
 
I think JNAT’s occupy a stratosphere in price that other stones are just levels below. Here is what’s on Yahoo Auctions Japan right now: Sorted high to low

I’ve seen bidders pushing prices into the high $2000 range. It really makes me wonder, what do you actually get for that much money? It would be strange to call in love with a $3k rock that you can’t afford if it makes your $150 rock feel like junk. Just my personal feeling, JNAT’s are kinda in their own world.

Anyways, I’ve wondered this same question for everything outside of JNAT’s. Premium Arks can get pricey but they come in decently large sizes. Other stones are both smaller and more rare, so great question. What is, gm for gm, the most coveted type of whetstone?

I would guess an Escher…?

Oh interesting Yahoo JP link, ta!

A 5x2 Barber's Delight Escher selling for $700 has got to be pushing some of the fanciest of those jnats I'd have thought in terms of $/g...? A boxed Escher Saxonian could probably we worth a similarly crazy amount. And the 'Fiddich River' stone I imagine as well, though it's probably starting to push into the levels of unobtainable stuff that I initially disqualified...

As you say - it's largely about scarcity at the end of the day, rather than efficacy.
 
As a special bonus q. What do people reckon is pound for pound the most expensive synthetic stone in the world?

(I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this btw, but may be wrong, so interested to hear people's thoughts...)
 
As a special bonus q. What do people reckon is pound for pound the most expensive synthetic stone in the world?

(I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this btw, but may be wrong, so interested to hear people's thoughts...)

Not sure but the Suehiro 20k has to be up there?
 
As a special bonus q. What do people reckon is pound for pound the most expensive synthetic stone in the world?

(I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this btw, but may be wrong, so interested to hear people's thoughts...)

Whetstone? I bet there are some industrial stones/wheels that would make your eyes water...

For the domestic cutlery/knife market... probably vitrified diamond or CBN?



for a bit of fun: what do people reckon are the most expensive natural whetstones out there in terms of price per gram?

You have a broader knowledge of American and European stones than many of us! But like you... I tend to think of JNats as being comparatively expensive. I think on average this is true for accessible stones?? Renges, bench size uchigumori and suita don't fall into the category of unimaginably rare... Yet these and other fancy JNats can pull >$1000 prices. But there is a spectrum hey? If you dont want interesting or collectible stones, they can be much cheaper. We might even be playing in the cheap end! I think natural stones in the nihonto world are in a higher price bracket again?


Does the Rosetta Stone count??
 
Oh interesting Yahoo JP link, ta!

A 5x2 Barber's Delight Escher selling for $700 has got to be pushing some of the fanciest of those jnats I'd have thought in terms of $/g...? A boxed Escher Saxonian could probably we worth a similarly crazy amount. And the 'Fiddich River' stone I imagine as well, though it's probably starting to push into the levels of unobtainable stuff that I initially disqualified...

As you say - it's largely about scarcity at the end of the day, rather than efficacy.

Your question got me thinking….. what happens if you remove the rare expensive stuff like NOS, and original box etc, and you are left with just the mean or average Ark, Escher, CF? Even the average JNAT when divided by weight is not crazy expensive. What then has the highest average price per gm?
I would love to see the work up on that.
 
Suehiro 20k

vitrified diamond or CBN?

All good guesses, which I'm sure would be near the top of the list (though I don't know what CBN is?), but no... By weight the synth that I'm thinking of is perhaps 4x the price of the Gokumyo 20k or vitrified diamond. And, curiously, is bought almost exclusively by people in Australia...


Does the Rosetta Stone count??

No, it does not. Nor the Elgin Marbles, the Philosopher's Stone, the Ark of the Covenant, petrified pieces of the True Cross, or anything else you're trying to flog on BST! ;)
 
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Even the most expensive jnats I see around top out at about $4-5k.. and that’s almost always for a brick sized one. Divide it down and remove the novelty of it being huge and I suppose it’s really not that bad - I’d say I paid within that ballpark per gram for a much smaller uchigumori, albeit worth the price of admission in my books.

With jnats there seems to be a relatively large collectors market (or at least That I’m exposed to), placing high value on unique appearance or rarity. To boil it down to price per gram would personally be difficult for me.

The price of shapton glass 30k has always amazed me, whether it’s really that expensive in the high end synth market, I’m not sure.
 
The price of shapton glass 30k has always amazed me, whether it’s really that expensive in the high end synth market, I’m not sure.


Ah yeah good point - that's probably more expensive than the Gokumyo 20k I imagine.

Ever used one? They're interesting stones.
 
Keep in mind that the actual stone thickness of most of the vitrified diamonds is only 3 mm, the bulk of the weight is just backing. If you don't count that they are decidedly on the expensive side per gram.

Ah is that so, I didn't know that. They'd certainly have to be right up there then!


What then has the highest average price per gm?

If I'm allowed to break one of my own rules... Lydian stones cost about 2.2 euro per gram from memory. 😬😬😬
 
If you remove any maruka etc. stamps from Jnats.

I think the finest ones are the most expensive AKA Escher, with visible stamps in big size they fetch the most money by weight, by far.

SirCutALot
 
If you remove any maruka etc. stamps from Jnats.

I think the finest ones are the most expensive AKA Escher, with visible stamps in big size they fetch the most money by weight, by far.

SirCutALot
I would agree with this. You get into the really expensive Japanese stones, the "generational" ones and they are big thick (not uncommon to see 1-2 kilo) rocks. A puny little labelled Escher maybe 1/10th of the size and fetch similar sums.

This isn't meant to be any kind of exhausting data set. I was just curious so I thought I would share my findings. These are completed US eBay items the past 6 months.

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On the old forums or maybe here, Jon talked about seeing jnats in Japan that were the price of a new Honda Civic, so like $30,000 USD +, like a 3 ft wide karasu or something
 
On the old forums or maybe here, Jon talked about seeing jnats in Japan that were the price of a new Honda Civic, so like $30,000 USD +, like a 3 ft wide karasu or something
That's where it gets really tricky beyond just as a mental exercise. And since they are sold across so many different sites and countries. Local exchange rates, customs, taxes, and shipping have a huge effect on the market value too. Jnats clearly set the bar for overall could get the most out of a single stone. But that karasu that costs as much as a civic might be too large to fit in a civic. 😆
 
Keep in mind that the actual stone thickness of most of the vitrified diamonds is only 3 mm, the bulk of the weight is just backing. If you don't count that they are decidedly on the expensive side per gram.

That is my thinking!! Surely only ten's of dollars for a backing plate (at worst)... and then 100's of dollars for 100-200g of abrasive??


though I don't know what CBN is?

Cubic boron nitride....

I believe a few people in the knife world have dabbled with it? It is a very hard abrasive but it is softer than diamonds. The reason it is used in industrial applications is that it is thermally more stable than diamond. If diamonds get too hot, they can break down. Some woodworkers use CBN grinding wheels for maintaining their tools. They run cooler than aluminium oxide... but likely hotter than diamonds can handle? As I understand it, this is their primary benefit... there may be subtle reasons CBN is good for a whetstone... but at low temperatures surely, harder diamonds are forever 🎶...


And, curiously, is bought almost exclusively by people in Australia...

Oh geeze... this is going to annoy me now... the stump-jump whetstonery-roo?? 🤷‍♂️


No, it does not. Nor the Elgin Marbles, the Philosopher's Stone, the Ark of the Covenant, petrified pieces of the True Cross, or anything else you're trying to flog on BST! ;)

Stonehenge?? Sankara stones?? Emma Stone?? Kidney stones 😲
 
Hmm Kidney stones can get up there...

This is an interesting topic as I don't normally weigh any stone. Except a jnat. Well and some arks for SG testing...
 
So then, to put @Luftmensch out of his misery and answer the little side game about the most expensive synthetic whetstone in the world, I give you...


THE NORTON RAZOR HONE!!!


$_57.jpg




Strapped in? Ok...



This stone surfaces from time to time, usually in the US, and gets bought for quite astronomical amounts of money by members of the Australian 'Racing Axe'* community. Who (for reasons I am yet to fully understand) have got it into their heads that nothing can surpass this particular kind of small Norton Barber's Hone to give them the kind of truly elite edge required for axe racing at the highest level.

The last one that came up on ebay earlier this year went for just shy of $1200. A relative bargain - they've nudged close to 2k in the past.


Screenshot 2022-04-25 122954 (1).png





* Nope I didn't know what competitive axe racing was either. Google it - it's barmy!
 
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So yes - the most expensive (afaik) synth in the world is a combi. Cos combis kick ass.
 
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So then, to put @Luftmensch out of his misery and answer the little side game about the most expensive synthetic whetstone in the world, I give you...


THE NORTON RAZOR HONE!!!


View attachment 184096



Strapped in? Ok...



This stone surfaces from time to time, usually in the US, and gets bought for quite astronomical amounts of money by members of the Australian 'Racing Axe'* community. Who (for reasons I am yet to fully understand) have got it into their heads that nothing can surpass this particular kind of small Norton Barber's Hone to give them the kind of truly elite edge required for axe racing at the highest level.

The last one that came up on ebay earlier this year went for just shy of $1200. A relative bargain - they've nudged close to 2k in the past.


View attachment 184097




* Nope I didn't know what competitive axe racing was either. Google it - it's barmy!
I remembered that you told me those axe dudes were crazy about something but I couldn't remember which particular item. This is an absolutely unfathomable obsession. Talk about a hype train. At least Eschers and Jnats and vitrified diamonds are unique in the kind of performance and consistency or beautty they can bring you for the price. Razor hones that must be nearly identical compositions from other brands are available on eBay all of the time for under $20 with shipping. They are not rare or hard to find. And I have sharpened all manner of things with them including several axe blades. I find razor hones to be pretty useful for putting a super fine edge on something that already has pretty good geometry. Axe blades are very soft. You can sharpen them to a near mirror polish with pretty much anything very quickly. A metal file, sandpaper, orbital sander, angle grinder, belt sander, oil stones, water stones, razor hones, natural stones, the sidewalk, bottom of a ceramic plate, etc. I think a razor hone would be too slow for repairing any kind of damage even on a very soft axe, but I can see that it might be very quick for polishing the faces in between axe "racing" whatever the hell that is. But so would literally any other decent vintage barber hone or modern fine SiC or AlOx based whetstone. Razor hones are usually just really compacted SiC. The particles aren't that fine compared to a Thuringian or a Jnat but they are compressed and baked with a firm binder of some sort to give a fine finish with a soft hand. I like them for pretty much any kind of quick sharpening job except for razors to be honest. They are just kind of pointless for me for razors because naturals and modern synthetics are so much better. But if I find one in a flea market I am for sure going to ship it to you to sell on Australian eBay for me. :p
 
With natural products, as things get bigger they get more expensive non-monotonically.

2 kilo rocks, especially ones that are pure at that size, will necessarily carry a higher per gram cost. From that perspective, I would expect those Eschers to absolutely dwarf even huge generational stones from desirable mines.

I don't think I've ever paid over 2 dollars per gram for a JNat and I own some stones that easily cleared the 4 digit mark.
 
Lots of the expensive stuff is driven by collector value. Pretty jnats, labeled Eschers, ect.

The thing that has always fascinated me about all collecting fields is that the expensive stuff does not have to be rare at all. Collectors want examples of what all collectors already have. Where as an example of something truly rare or never seen before could be almost worthless.
 
Might also add here that we seem to be looking through the lens of eBay, which basically just matches stones according to label. With natural stones, there are good ones and then there are amazing individual stones (cut just perfectly from the grain of the rock formation, perfectly composited, no inclusions, etc.) and if we were local and trying out the stones, we'd be astonished at the occasional one and be willing to pay so much more. With a few of those running around, it boosts the prices that people are willing to pay for the rest, but the really high prices for the one-of-a-kind stones rarely make it to public view. Like great diamonds, they trade under the counter. I've seen Japanese dealers who encounter an astounding Jnat call some chefs or collectors or knife makers that they know and people come to try it out in a back room. So there's a quality of stone that we don't typically get to see that defines the top and to some extent supports high end stone price inflation. There are things that have been intensely collectible but which technology has finally depreciated (old Leica 35 mm film M-series cameras and 1970s Italian steel frames, to name just two) and when demand shifts (with digital cameras and with frames with greater tire clearances and carbon fiber) discover the differences between the 98% and the 2% rarified top among those items, the 98% depreciates down to a respectible level; I'd expect stones to do the same.
 
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I remembered that you told me those axe dudes were crazy about something but I couldn't remember which particular item. This is an absolutely unfathomable obsession. Talk about a hype train. At least Eschers and Jnats and vitrified diamonds are unique in the kind of performance and consistency or beautty they can bring you for the price. Razor hones that must be nearly identical compositions from other brands are available on eBay all of the time for under $20 with shipping. They are not rare or hard to find. And I have sharpened all manner of things with them including several axe blades. I find razor hones to be pretty useful for putting a super fine edge on something that already has pretty good geometry. Axe blades are very soft. You can sharpen them to a near mirror polish with pretty much anything very quickly. A metal file, sandpaper, orbital sander, angle grinder, belt sander, oil stones, water stones, razor hones, natural stones, the sidewalk, bottom of a ceramic plate, etc. I think a razor hone would be too slow for repairing any kind of damage even on a very soft axe, but I can see that it might be very quick for polishing the faces in between axe "racing" whatever the hell that is. But so would literally any other decent vintage barber hone or modern fine SiC or AlOx based whetstone. Razor hones are usually just really compacted SiC. The particles aren't that fine compared to a Thuringian or a Jnat but they are compressed and baked with a firm binder of some sort to give a fine finish with a soft hand. I like them for pretty much any kind of quick sharpening job except for razors to be honest. They are just kind of pointless for me for razors because naturals and modern synthetics are so much better. But if I find one in a flea market I am for sure going to ship it to you to sell on Australian eBay for me. :p
I think the racing axes are ran a little harder and nobody is saying what they are using for steel other than "tool steel". I wouldn't be surprised if they are doing a different heat treat based on species chopped but I don't know. They are ground different based on the wood.

Here locally we have the largest population of Basque folks outside of their home land. I have been fortunate enough to witness some of their competitions, but it was many years ago. I think they are the best axe men in the world and have a long tradition of axe racing. Where as most other racing is a sprint theirs are a marathon. Sometimes their competitions are a mix of other events as well. Bets are placed on the competitors and can be changed at anytime if both party's agree.



I knew that some Norton razor hones went for crazy money I just didn't know which ones.

Cotedupy, is it just a certain Norton that brings the big money? Pretty sure I seen one the other day.
 
I have two Tasmanian racing axes, one directly from Tasmania... The whole axe head is made out of O-1 tool steel.
The handle is pinned to the head with a roll pin for safety.... I think soft is not in the description of either
this axe or a replica forged in England.
 
As a special bonus q. What do people reckon is pound for pound the most expensive synthetic stone in the world?

(I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this btw, but may be wrong, so interested to hear people's thoughts...)
Well, as long as you don't include the base, Triple B super vitrified 1k.
 
I have two Tasmanian racing axes, one directly from Tasmania... The whole axe head is made out of O-1 tool steel.
The handle is pinned to the head with a roll pin for safety.... I think soft is not in the description of either
this axe or a replica forged in England.
So do you know why the Norton embossed combi sharpening hone is so coveted? What properties could it have that make it such a great match to competition axe things?
 
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