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Bart Torfs (Bart)
Associate
From: Belgium
Posts: 5001
Good-day Gentlemen,

Today I spent a day in the ever enjoyable presence of Maurice Celis, proprietor of Ardennes Coticule.
There is a lot of news to be told.
First off, we made the final arrangements for the upcoming Coticule weekend. It will be an exciting event! More news about it, in the Coticule Pilgrimage thread. There is still room for more folks, also for those who have only time to attend on Saturday.

The other news that affects all of the current and future members of Coticule.be is that Ardennes decided to make some huge changes in price politics. Some background information: as you may or may not know, Ardennes exploits a quarry in Tier d'ol Preu and owns a mine at Regné. In the quarry, to put it simple, they've hit the bottom. There might still be raw Coticule for 1 year, 2 years, but not longer. There's a second terrain adjacent to the quarry, on which they can start back on top, but the thickness of the layers is uncertain. At Regné, there are vast amounts of excellent Coticule present in the underground, but none of it is readily accessible. The investments, needed to expand the mine with new galleries, represents a cost of - by rough estimate - 600 000 EUR. The subsequent sales of whetstones would easily cover it, but you can't sell hones that are located 80 meters below the surface.
So, Ardennes has 2 years to come up with the funds for making the investment in Regné. Or they can expand the quarry, which isn't exactly free either and with uncertainty about the resulting share of good sized Coticules.

At the same time, the annual demand for Coticules exceeds the availability by about half of what they are capable to produce each year.

The resulting business decision is easy to guess. Prices will rise. Significantly. Maurice kindly copied the new price list for me. They also decided (finally I might add) to discern between (some of) the layers. La Veinette and Les Latneuses will be most expensive - La Petite Blanche comes next - after that all natural combos that don't fit in these prior categories. The remaining layers will be the least expensive. In all categories there still will be a difference between "select" and "standard", grades based on thickness of the Coticule slice, absence of small voids, clean glue-lines, etc.
To give you guys some idea, a few examples:
- a standard La Grise of 150mm x 40mm at used to cost 42 EUR. On the new price list, it is listed for 60 EUR.
- a selected La Veinette of 200mm x 50mm used to cost 159 EUR. On the new price list, it is listed for 423 EUR.
- a standard La Veinette bout size 8 used to cost 42 EUR. On the new price list, it is listed for 70 EUR.

You may not like this news, but please think about it for a minute. The investment you already own just went up in price. Furthermore, you may all take my word for it that the people of Ardennes as working twice as hard as most of us for half the earnings. I for one are glad that they finally decided to ask a price that fits the efforts made in a civilized country, and will hopefully insure the world of future Coticule mining activity.

With the new price politics and layer differentiation, they have also decided to bury my Burton-series idea. Well, actually they more or less applied it to their entire stock, if you think of it.


And for some final news, that some of you might have been waiting on. I brought home a couple of very sweet Coticules. Together with the ones that I was currently assessing, they will soon go in the "new" Vault. It's the most amazing Coticule collection I ever saw. I will do my very best to open the new Vault as soon as possible. For those that plan to attend the Coticule weekend, Maurice agreed to a special discount for these gents that prefer to select their own Coticule from the stock at Ardennes, probably on top of the old price, but limited to one hone each. There will be plenty of opportunity to try them. I am not sure though if Chimay is very good for finishing. For drinking however... :D

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)
2010-09-10 22:54
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Torben Pedersen (torbenbp)
Advisor
From: Denmark
Posts: 1024
Well,thats good and bad news at the same time.

Good in the sense,that they finaly decided to differentiate different layers and their according prices. Personally I always wondered why the heck they sent me a perfect natural combo,for the price of a standard coticule...

The new and much higher prices will also force us to fully explore the potentials of rocks allready in posession and appreciate them much more.

And as you say Bart,perhaps the earnings of the employees will be more reasonable.

The bad news is, that coticules will available to fewer people due to the high price...not really sure if thats a bad thing,when I think about it.. At least it will stop quite a few people from stock pilling rocks.

Thats my "early morning not quite awake" thoughts ;-)

Torbs
Torben Pedersen
Moellevaenget 15 2th
7900 Nykoebing Mors
Denmark
"If it works dont break it..?"
2010-09-11 08:44
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Dr Ralfson Bwhahaha (tat2Ralfy)
Associate
Posts: 3610
Sweet Mary
You know I just sold my 200X60 Vienette for £160. and then think Maybe I should have waited a year :(

Oh well, apart from that I think that it is excellent news, and wish Maurice and Rob every success with there future plans, I know they certainly deserve it.

Best regards
Ralfson (Dr)
We Are All Pioneers In Our Own Right.
The Infamous Coticule Crew
Pip Pip Old Bean
2010-09-11 09:10
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geruchtemoaker
Associate
From: Belgium
Posts: 693
iconBart:
Good-day Gentlemen,

I am not sure though if Chimay is very good for finishing. For drinking however... :D

Bart.

for the finishing i wouldn't know but I do know it's very good for drinking :thumbup: I just don't think it's save to play with our scary sharp razors when you drunk a few of them
The Bible and several other self help or enlightenment books cite the Seven Deadly Sins. They are: pride, greed, lust, envy, wrath, sloth, and gluttony. That pretty much covers everything that we do, that is sinful... or fun for that matter. - Dave Mustaine
http://www.artisanshaving.org
2010-09-11 09:18
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Matt
Associate
From: Poland
Posts: 1047
Well, that makes me a little sad I didn't get any of those super layers stones sooner. With all the rave on those Coticules and edges they produce I can't help thinking that those two La Dressantes I bought are somewhat inferior stones.

On the other hand, the shaves are pretty nice, but ...you know the feeling. Can't it still get a little better? :lol: :lol:

Good news for all the other folks who are not here with us is that they will have a clearer choice when picking a stone.

I wish things will go fine for gentlemen at Ardennes!

regards,
Matt
"Very interesting indeed :) I did something similar with cheese a while ago" - Dr Ralfson
2010-09-11 11:59
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Bart Torfs (Bart)
Associate
From: Belgium
Posts: 5001
Rest assured that attaining sharpness has nothing to do with the price difference between layers. Larger Coticules are more expensive too and they don't make any edge sharper than a small one can.
The prices difference are - in my book - cause by this:

La Veinette: most expensive, due to superior speed on slurry, combined with a better slurry limit.
Les Latneuses: most expensive, due to 2 Coticule sides, one with superior speed, also on water.
La Petite Blanche: 2nd expensive, due to superior speed on slurry, but with a slight lees keen slurry limit than La Veinnette
(note that slurry limit is irrelevant for the final result)
Combo Coticules: 3th expensive, due to the fact that it are 2 hones: a Coticule and a BBW

All others: La Dressante is too variable, but certainly offers hones that can be counted among the fastest, next to slower ones.
La Grise, and La Verte are generally just slower than the fastest Coticules. With halfstrokes, they're plenty fast for doing bevel work. La Grosse Jaune and La Grosse Blanche are not present at the depth they're currently quarrying. In the farther future we might see layers like L'Allemande and Les Petas reenter the market, since these are both fast as well, I would expect them to be in the higher price ranges.

icontorbenbp:

The bad news is, that coticules will available to fewer people due to the high price...

Considering that a standard 150x40 costs 60EUR on the new price list, and that it is all one needs for a lifetime of excellent edges on his razors, I think that Coticules remain one of the cheapest options available. My own favorite hone is a 40X175 Les Latneuses. Perfect size and perfect performance, and the best razor hone on the planet, in my humble opinion and not so humble experience. It now costs: 176 EUR. About the same as one high end razor. Or one high end shaving brush.

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)
2010-09-11 13:21
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chti_lolo
Posts: 376
I have contacted 2 times Maurice for a "La Veinette" coticule since July, and haven't had an answer yet. I understand why now: people at Ardennes have a lot of important problems to cope with and don't have a lot of time to answer to individuals.

The raise of price is surely a problem for newcomers but as a coticule is all one needs for a lifetime of excellent edges on his razors it is still a good investment.
The good point is that they will differentiate the layers so it will be more easy to order from Ardennes.

But it might be interesting to make another classification of layers in the coticule vault: something taking more into account the skillness of the user and its need. As a newbie when I read Bart's comment, I will immediately go for something like a La Veinette or Les Latneuses. But with the new prices, I will certainly not put 400 Euros for a first coticule. At present, my need is for an easy stone to learn honing (I have no experience at all in honing) and to maintain or to make shave ready the razor (or surely in the near future, razors) I shave with. So a hone that takes ten minutes more than another to get the same result is not an issue for me.
To give a more accurate illustration, my main hobby is cycling. When I start cycling, I explained what I expected from a bike to a friend who had a lot experience, and considering my physical ability, he advised me a 300 Euros bike. Then when I got more experienced in cycling, I changed my practice and bought a more expensive bike, more dedicated to some days trip. And now, as I'm not able to do week-end trip, I have bought an even more expensive confortable race bike for one day long ride. All three bikes would have been a good choice for the beginner I was, but 300 Euros was enough for what I expected from a bike when I was a beginner.

It seems also that there will be more differences between selected and standard coticule. I thought that till now the difference were just cosmetic. Will there be difference in honing performance?


Regards

Laurent
2010-09-11 16:09
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Torben Pedersen (torbenbp)
Advisor
From: Denmark
Posts: 1024
iconQuote:
torbenbp:
The bad news is, that coticules will available to fewer people due to the high price...

Considering that a standard 150x40 costs 60EUR on the new price list, and that it is all one needs for a lifetime of excellent edges on his razors, I think that Coticules remain one of the cheapest options available. My own favorite hone is a 40X175 Les Latneuses. Perfect size and perfect performance, and the best razor hone on the planet, in my humble opinion and not so humble experience. It now costs: 176 EUR. About the same as one high end razor. Or one high end shaving brush


You`re quite right Sir Bart..though I did never pay that kind of money for a razor or brush :rolleyes:

But a coticule will last more than a lifetime,and I hope to hand it over to my boys. One of them allready picked a razor! A bit early as they are both 9 years old,but a good start...:thumbup:

Torbs
Torben Pedersen
Moellevaenget 15 2th
7900 Nykoebing Mors
Denmark
"If it works dont break it..?"
2010-09-11 17:35
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gary haywood (garyhaywood)
Advisor
From: United Kingdom
Posts: 1678
bart does that mean we will get a special discount on the old price or the new?
gary haywood
2010-09-11 20:47
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Bart Torfs (Bart)
Associate
From: Belgium
Posts: 5001
Laurent,

I believe the difficulty level of Coticules is largely overstated. Honing razors requires the ability to make stable honing strokes. That has nothing to do with Coticules as such. Some people catch on with it almost immediately, others need to practice many hours. I sometimes compare it with learning how to ride a bike. It's easy for someone who can do it, and impossible for someone who never learned.
Once that skill is acquired, Unicot is equally easy and straightforward on all Coticules.
Dilucot is a different story, because it demands that you figure out the exact pace of dilution, and how to optimize keenness during the finishing stage. For doing that, it is my opinion that La Grise, La Verte and La Veinette are easiest. But the difference is only minor. When people struggle with honing, the problem is in the first place usually in their honing stroke, in the second place: inefficient stropping of the freshly honed edge, thirdly: giving up too soon during the finishing stage.

iconchti_lolo:

It seems also that there will be more differences between selected and standard coticule. I thought that till now the difference were just cosmetic. Will there be difference in honing performance?

No, the difference between standard and select will be the same as before: based on thickness of the Coticule slice, absence of small voids, clean glue-lines, and other cosmetic issues that have no direct influence on performance.

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)
2010-09-11 21:54
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Bart Torfs (Bart)
Associate
From: Belgium
Posts: 5001
icongaryhaywood:
bart does that mean we will get a special discount on the old price or the new?

I don't really know. Maurice said "discount". I would think it's on the old price, because the new price list isn't operational yet. I did ask when the new prices will be introduced. He said "as soon as possible". I think the fact that he granted me permission to break the news, indicates that they will make the change very soon.

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)
2010-09-11 22:00
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gary haywood (garyhaywood)
Advisor
From: United Kingdom
Posts: 1678
i hope after the 26th
gary haywood
2010-09-11 22:11
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rayman
Advisor
From: United States
Posts: 499
iconBart:
Laurent,

But the difference is only minor. When people struggle with honing, the problem is in the first place usually in their honing stroke, in the second place: inefficient stropping of the freshly honed edge, thirdly: giving up too soon during the finishing stage.


Bart.


My observation in working with others trying to learn how to hone has been just a bit different. I find most beginners move from the bevel stage to quickly. Generally the blade might seem ready to move on, but because of the inexperience they don't yet know it isn't. Consequently, when they arrive at the finish stage, the edge never reaches complete sharpness. Sort of like laying the foundation to a house with blocks, but not putting enough mortar between them.

Another issue I see is when the blade is sharp on part of the edge and not on other parts. This happens to me occasionally and the cure seems to be to go back and start over. Of course this has to do with the foundation again, but some folks can't accept it, and continue to try and finish an edge that is not ready to finish.

The last and most important is, as you say, the stropping. This is where most beginning honers overlook a crucial part of honing. If your stropping skills are no better than your honing skills, you are almost doomed to failure.

Ray
2010-09-11 22:23
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gary haywood (garyhaywood)
Advisor
From: United Kingdom
Posts: 1678
very well explained ray. i have found the same thing when a certain area is not quite up with the rest of the edge i tend to start again and rework from start. second time round is much better.
gary haywood
2010-09-11 22:28
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Dr Ralfson Bwhahaha (tat2Ralfy)
Associate
Posts: 3610
I couldnt agree more with you both, thats part of the reason I always try to stress that before you move onto refining the edge, you have to get that bevel set bang on, and its surprising just how sharp you get the edge without moving from the bevel setting stage.
I believe thats where the BBW side of a combination stone can really help.

Regards Chaps
Ralfson (Dr)
We Are All Pioneers In Our Own Right.
The Infamous Coticule Crew
Pip Pip Old Bean
2010-09-11 23:19