Writing slates

When I started school and we learned how to write we were using writing slates, probably because you can practise again and again without wasting paper. They were not really made of slate, instead they were a bit like a laminated piece of paper, just that the plastic used is much harder and that the surface was not smooth. A few months ago I found my old writing slate again, together with the sponge to clean it and the pencil to write on it.

The sponge came in a container that could be closed – nice when you want to transport it, but not nice if you do not let the sponge dry out from time to time, as the old water will get smelly. The pencil was a “Heft und Tafel” (exercise book and chalkboard) pencil from A.W. Faber-Castell. As the name suggests they can be used on slate and on paper. You can still get the “Heft and Tafel” pencils today. I bought the white Goldfaber pencil you can see in the photo in April 2010 from Bürobedarf Jäcklein in Volkach for € 1 (~$ 1.38; ~85p). Even the writing slate Scolaflex is still available from Brunnen. Mine is from the late Seventies, just like the blue pencil. It has lines on one side to help getting the cap height and baseline right and is plain dark green on the other side.

Writing slates from proper slate are still available for a reasonable price. I just bought this school writing slate (see photo) from Inigo Jones for £ 3.25 (~$ 5.25; ~€ 3.80). It even comes with a slate pencil. Unfortunately I was not able to find out whether the slate is real Welsh slate.

Price: April 2010, Exchange rates: November 2010

Lexikaliker has a nice photo of a writing slate (Google translation) .

8 thoughts on “Writing slates”

  1. Amazing! Thank you for showing these interesting items from your past. – I am suprised to hear that the flexible slate is still available, and I am tempted to get one 😉

  2. Fascinating, thank you for sharing this. I really enjoyed reading about these less known (at least to me) writing media!

    So how does a “Milchgriffel” pencil differ from a “Heft und Tafel” pencil?

  3. Thank you for your kind comments.

    Gunther, I think the Welsh slate is really good value for money, in case you are tempted 🙂 I guess the flexible ones are still used in some schools if Brunnen is still selling them.

    Stephen, agood question. I think in reality the is no difference, but the Milchgriffel is mainly for slates, while the name of the “Heft and Tafel” pencil implies that it can be used on slate and on paper.

  4. Thanks for sharing – I had almost forgotten how it feels – and especially how it sounds to write on a slate with a slate pencil (griffel).
    I have known the Heft und Tafel pencil for some years – but with the current quality in blackboards (laminated wood) and exercise books, it doesn’t make much sense – it can hardly be seen, and writing in white on white paper?
    The blue one might work, though – I’ve never seen that one before, do you know if it is still available?

  5. memm, it won’t surpise you that I already have a traditional slate (albeit not an old but a new one). I also have some slate pencils, including the newer “Heft & Tafel” and a vintage paper-wrapped one from J.J. Rehbach.

    Today I came across a “Scolaflex” with the old “Heyda” logo. I have learned that Heyda, founded in 1902, was taken over by Brunnen in 2006, and last year the Heyda production facilities were closed. As a slate, the “Scolaflex” is better than the traditional slate since it doesn’t have the raised wooden frame.

    Henrik, the white pencils can be used on black paper or cardboard – this looks quite nice, e. g. for an unsual greeting card. Besides that, it can be used with these mugs that have a blackboard-like coating 😉

  6. Thanks for listing these – I can’t think of where you could get these in the US. We didn’t have them when I was learning to write in the 60’s. We used cheap pulp paper.

  7. Pingback: pencil talk » Caran d’Ache Jass chalk pencil

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