Saturday, October 19, 2013

So Marmoreal!

So many celluloid pencil cases are of "marble" design that I wanted to ponder marble a little.  The word comes from the Greek word marmaros, meaning "shining stone."  It was a symbol of immortality in Greek mythology, but in reality, marble is not that hard, it is soft enough to sculpt, and is prized for statuary. It can be eaten away by acid rain and pollution.  Pure marble is white; it is metamorphosed from limestone (calcium carbonate, thus the acid problem), but when things like minerals, clay, silt, and sand are layered with the limestone, colors and swirls of pattern are produced, as in these examples, below.

Fascinating patterns and colors were formed out of celluloid to mimic marble, and fairly successfully, too. Things that are marble-like are called "marmoreal."  Below are two Sheaffer Balance pencils of grey marble with red veining, from 1934-35.

This American News Company marble is yellow-gold with grey veining.

Two more Balances in black and yellow-green marble are shown with an unidentified all-white marble pencil.

An earlier Sheaffer bell-top pencil from the 1920s (below) shows a fine-textured type marble in emerald green, very attractive on this large, weighty, rear-drive example.

Of course, there is also this kind of marble, named for the stone they resemble, but made of glass.

And finally, the biggest marble of them all.

Something to ponder.

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