This is an untouched box of the legendary Hagoromo Fulltouch chalk, made in Japan circa 2014. The company closed down in 2015, and while a version of the chalk is now made in Korea, purists mourn the loss of the unsurpassable original - the finest blackboard chalk ever made. 1/
Mathematicians in particular revered Hagoromo for its unequalled legibility, usability and durability. Here, by @jeremyjkun, is a teary goodbye to Hagoromo. 2/
"I tried it. It was love at first sight. I couldn't believe such a thing existed," says math professor Satyan Devadoss. Since then, he's been a Hagoromo Fulltouch chalk convert." 3/…
"Hagoromo Fulltouch Chalk was at the very pinnacle of the chalk world. According to Conrad, its semi-mythical status, which prompted it to be hoarded by mathematicians before the company went out of business, comes from the fact it “flows nicely and lasts much longer”." 4/
Despite the availability of the Korean replacement product, there is still an ongoing market for vintage original Japanese-made Hagoromo Fulltouch Chalk, which now regularly sells for at least $150 per box of 72 pieces on eBay. 5/
"I didn't want to become a chalk dealer, but I did like the idea that I could be the, 'The first stick is free,' chalk dealer on the block in my department," says Max Lieblich, a mathematics professor at the University of Washington." 6/…
From the same CNN article: "Some call it the Rolls Royce of chalk, the Steinway of writing utensils. Some say it's unbreakable, others say it leaves no dust behind." 7/
More from CNN: "So, when Hagoromo announced that it was going out of business in 2014, it caused a rupture in the math community. "I referred to it as a chalk apocalypse," Conrad said. In a panic, mathematicians across America began stockpiling resources in preparation." 8/
This is the Korean facsimile product, much better in its own right than Crayola and other US-made chalks, but described by people who've used both as an "approximation" and "markedly worse" than the original pre-2015 Japanese Hagoromo Fulltouch product. 9/…
Hagoromo president Takayasu Watanabe: "I developed the production facilities by trial and error. For creating the materials for chalk, we modified a machine for mixing flour. For molding the sticks of chalk, we tweaked a machine for making roof tiles." 10/
"..The machines, which we continued to modify over more than 20 years, felt like our children. There's more to making our chalk than just the machines though. A precise ration of seven materials is mixed to ensure our chalk writes well. The recipe is optimized for our plant." 11/

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More from @incunabula

25 Apr
In the 90 years since its discovery the unique text of this papyrus (known as P. Michael.4), has defied simple identification. Known as the "Inundation" papyrus, it may be a fragment of an Ancient Greek novel. It describes the annual flooding of the Nile in poetic language. 1/5
"... An area thirty stades in circumference it embraces with Egyptian soil and weaves together with a piling up of black mud. Now this area is a promontory with Poseidon and Nile on either side. It seems to me that around this area human nourishment came into being...." 2/5
Merkelbach in 1958 identified it as a previously unrecorded section of the geographies of Hecataeus of Miletus (c. 550 - c. 476 BC.), the first recorded Greek geographer. 3/5
Read 5 tweets
23 Apr
Today is #StGeorgesDay. St George is one of the most important of all saints in the Ethiopian Church, revered for his martyrdom, and especially for his survival through repeated tortures - he was, above all, one tough 'ol boy.... 1/ #hardtokill
As we progress through this Ge'ez codex of the Life & Miracles of St George, despite multiple impalings, hangings, beatings, roastings and stabbings, St George remains still only mostly dead. And as "The Princess Bride" taught us, mostly dead is still slightly alive.... 2/
Sadly though, in the end actual decapitation was too much to bounce back from, even for St George.... 3/
Read 7 tweets
18 Apr
This is potentially a cultural tragedy happening as we watch in horror - I know this library quite well - if it has indeed been destroyed, the losses are incalculable, from incunables to priceless Africana.
This is the main Cape Town afternoon newspaper. Their ongoing coverage is here:…
As a young man, I spent many happy hours in the Jagger library. Aside from priceless early materials, this is one of the great repositories for archives & documents of anti-colonial and liberation movements in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa. This is irreplaceable material. Image
Read 28 tweets
14 Apr
The Tripiṭaka Koreana or Palman Daejanggyeong ("Eighty-Thousand Tripiṭaka") is a Korean collection of the Tripiṭaka (Buddhist scriptures), carved onto 81,258 wooden printing blocks in the 13th century. 1/
It is the world's most comprehensive and oldest intact version of Buddhist canon in Hanja script, with no known errors or errata in the 52,330,152 characters which are organized in over 1496 titles and 6568 volumes. 2/
Each wood block measures 24 centimeters in height and 70 centimeters in length. The thickness of the blocks ranges from 2.6 to 4 centimeters and each weighs about three to four kilograms. 3/
Read 22 tweets
12 Apr
"After the 15th century, Hebrew printed matter barely existed [...] until the 1800s."

This disgracefully, comically, ignorant new article on @atlasobscura by @K_Chernick should be withdrawn to avoid further embarrassment for all concerned.…
A good overview of the vast, enormous, gigantic, immense, mammoth, cosmically colossal range of Hebrew printing between 1500 and 1800 can be found here:
Aside from the bizarre misreading of the entire history of Hebrew printing, the article's fundamental premise is wrong: large wooden type in what the author calls "the ancient Levantine script" is not rare - you can buy buckets of it every day on eBay and elsewhere. 1/2
Read 15 tweets
2 Apr
A fragment from the Good Friday Liturgy from a sacramentary showing an expert late-stage development of Visigothic Minuscule, probably from northern Portugal, or just possibly Toledo, copied circa 1130-1170. 1/4
The two most immediately distinctive Visigothic minuscule letter formations are both used here:
1. the 'g' in egredientur on the recto and in agrestibus on the verso.
2. the 'z' in azymos on the verso. 2/4
The text is from the Vulgate: Hosea and Exodus from the Sacramentary for Good Friday. 3/4

Recto: Hosea [Oseæ] 6: 4-6.
Read 4 tweets

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