James, I’m going to also post this separately since it seems like and interesting topic in itself.
, which looks very much like EMERY CLOTH
– I haven’t seen or heard of it in years – is a very fine abrasive cloth that I occasionally used in my machinist days of yore. I can’t recall why I would have used it instead of EMERY CLOTH
except that it may have come in a finer grit, but emery comes pretty fine also.
I never knew the origin of the names EMERY CLOTH/PAPER
or CROCUS CLOTH
, but I looked them up and here’s what I found:
[~ 1485]: A fine-grained mineral consisting typically of corundum mixed with magnetite or hematite, used powdered, crushed, or consolidated and because of its great hardness used for grinding and polishing. [from Middle English, from Old French emeri, emeril,
from Late Latin smericulum,
from Greek smyris
, powdered emery. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary
, Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary)
Cloth (also sometimes paper) covered with emery-powder, to be used for polishing or cleaning metals, etc.(Oxford English Dictionary
: 1) A dark red powdered variety of natural iron oxide [[ferric oxide]], Fe2O3, used as an abrasive for polishing (American Heritage Dictionary
). 2) The name is applied to the peroxide of iron obtained [[artificially]] by calcination of sulphate of iron, and used as a polishing powder. (Oxford English Dictionary
A very slightly abrasive cloth which contains the mineral ‘crocoite,’ lead chromate, PbCrO4. The mineral was named in French in 1838 by Berthier crocoise
, from Greek krokoeis
, saffron-colored, from krokos
, saffron (crocus is another name for saffron, an orange-red condiment consisting of the dried orange-colored stigmas of Crocus sativus
and used to color and flavor food); altered by Dana in 1844 to crocoisite
, and in 1868 to crocoite
(American Heritage Dictionary, Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Oxford English Dictionary
Note: From the above it appears that the composition of the substance on ‘crocus cloth’ may vary.
<1858 “Navy Yard , Boston, June 16, 1858.— F. K. Sibley, Esq.—Dear Sir: Having given your EMERY CLOTH and CROCUS CLOTH a thorough trial, it gives use pleasure to inform you that I consider it the best article that I have seen.”—‘Scientific American’ New Series, Volume 1, Issue 4, 13 July, page 63>
<1861 “Fine flour of EMERY-CLOTH is the best article to clean the exterior of the barrel. / To clean the lock.Wipe every part with a moist rag, and then a dry one; if any part of the interior shows rust, put a drop of oil on the point or end of a piece of soft wood dipped in FLOUR OF EMERY; rub out the rust clean and wipe the surface dry; then rub every part with a slightly oiled rag. / To clean the mountings.—For the mountings, and all iron and steel parts, use fine FLOUR OF EMERY-CLOTH. For brass use rotten-stone moistened with vinegar, or water, and avoid oil or grease. Use a hard brush, or piece of soft pine, cedar, or CROCUS CLOTH.”—‘Rules for Dismounting the Rifle Musket, Model of 1855’ in ‘Military Dictionary’ by H. L. Scott, page 41>
<1875 “Town of Waltham Manufactures: EMORY and CROCUS CLOTH; Number of Establishments – 1; Capital invested – $1,000; Value of goods made and work done – $4,55o”—‘The Census of Massachusetts: 1875,’ page 107>
<1881 “(Advertisement) Proposals for Ordnance Stores and Supplies. . . quantities of stores and supplies of the following kinds as may be required during the fiscal year mentioned [[July 1881 to June 1882]], all to be the best quality and subject to inspection, viz: Lanterns, paulings, jacks, burlaps, cords, cotton, waste, hemp and manila rope, sewing silk, thread, twines, hay, corn-meal, bran, oil-meal, oats, straw, horseshoes, locks, nails, screws, spikes, copper and iron tacks, bridle and harness leather, lumber, shingles, lath, candles, coal, gasoline, burning oil, bath brick, brooms, CROCUS CLOTH, EMERY CLOTH, emery paper, soaps, sponge, tripoli, roofing, sheathing, and wrapping paper. Alcohol, glues, lard, neatsfoot, sperm, and linseed oils, paints, putty, turpentine, varnishes, tin cans, wheel grease, brushes, rasps, files, spirit levels, and gutta percha.”–‘New York Times,’ 8 June, page 6>
<1933 “Polish the inside of the holes and the tip of the stylus at least once per series, using the fine ‘CROCUS CLOTH’ which is obtainable at hardware stores.”—‘Science,’ ‘The Measurement of Steadiness: A New Apparatus and Results on Marksmanship,’ 5 New Series, Vol. 78, No. 2022, September, page 286>
(quotes from newspaper and magazine archives)
1) In the 1881 quote, I think, but am not certain, that ‘paulings’ might refer to ‘tarpaulins’; ‘tripoli’ is a porous, lightweight, siliceous sedimentary rock used as an abrasive and a polish; ‘gutta percha’ is rubberlike gum made used as a dental cement, in the manufacture of golf balls, and for insulating electric wires, etc.
2) For the 1861 quote above ‘flour emery’ is discussed in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
: “The emery after being broken up is carefully picked by hand, and then ground or stamped, and separated into grades by wire sieves. The higher grades are prepared by washing and eleutriation [[‘elutriation’: The process of elutriating; a decanting or racking off by means of water, as finer particles from heavier—Webster Dictionary, 1913
]], the finest being known as "FLOUR EMERY."
(quotes were found in newspaper and magazine archives)
Ken – March 16, 2007