School equipment

These objects from our collections are old school equipment; slate pencils, a slate and school desk.  A writing slate is a thin piece of flat material used as a medium for writing.  The slate material itself, a stony substance, is a metamorphic rock created by the recrystallization of the minerals in shale from clay to parallel-aligned, flat, flake-like minerals such as mica.  Slate pencils are made from broken slate which was put into a mortar run and pounded into small particles.  These are milled and made into stiff dough which was kneaded, rolled and subjected to hydraulic pressure after which are then laid on boards to dry.  Once the slate has been superheated in a kiln, the pencils are smoothly pointed and packed into paste-board boxes.

The word desk comes from the Modern Latin word desca, ‘table to write on’, from the mid-14th century.  It is a modification of the Old Italian desco table, from Latin discus dish, disc.  The word desk has been used figuratively since 1797.

If you have information about these objects that would be useful for our catalogue, contact the museum on 0800 111 323 or, Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki Heritage Collection, 1988.036.4 (writing slate), 1991.107.1 (slate pencils), and TN.0019.55 (school desk).

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