F. Ghelfi, Birolleau & Cie (F.G.B.C.), Paris


1. F.G.B.C. = Ferdinand(o) Ghelfi, Birolleau & Cie.
2. Historical approach and Italian roots
3. Old Pictures from the store F. Ghelfi & Cie. at 7, Rue de Charlot
4. The Trademarks from F.G.B.C.
5. The Quarries from F.G.B.C.
6. Steige, possibly origin of the fine red razor hones ?
7. Products and services from F.G.B.C.
8. Razor Hones “Pierre aiguiser LA LUNE”
9. Classification of the “LA LUNE” and “Special Stones”
10. La Lune and Special Stones from other suppliers?
11. A  promise on quality!
The warranty card, or the “Bulletin de Garantie”
12. Combo Stones “Combinaison Stone” AD12 / AD20
13. Scythe Stones “Pierre a faux” made of Pierre Natural de Saurat
14. Arkansas Stones
15. other Stones made by F.G.B.C.
16. The F.G.B.C. “Prix Courant” / Price List from 1974
17. Unknown Products
18. F.G.B.C. on the bigger trade fairs?
19. F.G.B.C. and Manufrance
20. Collection and how to identify french stones

FGBC_Letterhead Pricelist


1. F.G.B.C. = Ferdinand(o) Ghelfi, Birolleau & Cie.

 “Manufacture & Montage De Meules, Pierres a Aiguiser et a Polir”
Production & Assembling of abrasive wheels, sharpening stones and polishing stones.
The company was founded from Ferdinand(o) Ghelfi in 1903, which then existed besides the company from L. & B. Ghelfi which was under control of Belle.

The following changes are documented:
F. Ghelfi & Cie., 7 Rue de Charlot, Paris (1916/1922)

F. Ghelfi & Cie., 47, rue de Saintonge, Paris (1933) – relocation
F. Ghelfi Birolleau & Cie., 47, rue de Saintonge, Paris (1974)
change of company name and owner

Besides these changes there are predecessor companies which for have a close connection to F. Ghelfi & Cie. I created a overview of those companies which you can find on the first part of the story here:

D. Giovannacci & L. Ghelfi “Établissements Belle”,
87 Rue Faubourg St. Antoine (M.P.O.P.)

2. Historical approach and Italian Roots

In concerns of my researches and to the predecessors companies its impossible to miss the connection to Italy. Doing more research of the Italian family names “Bardotti”, “Giovannacci” and “Ghelfi” i found a lot of evidence to the old towns PontremoliMulazzo and Montereggio (Mulazzo) in the historical region Luningiana. All of the families are well bonded together during many centuries which makes it somewhat complicated to get their connection easily together.

During the winter time it was very cold and the people suffered from hunger, many inhabitants had to sell goods on the streets. Many left their home and families and went down the Emilia-Romagna or the Lombardy.  They had to strife their life as street dealers and they sold icons/holy images also musical instruments and razor hones[1]

Luckily Jethro (Fikira) was interested to create a more detailed interpretation about the connection of the families and people being involved into that business during the centuries. That’s why i will leave out “too detailed” information and focus on general issues and pictures.

This is article can be found under:
Who were the People behind F.G.B.C. ?
written by Jehro (aka Fikira)

3. Old Pictures from the Store F. Ghelfi & Cie.
at 7, Rue de Charlot

During my research i found a old picture from the store of the brothers Ghelfi (ital.: fratelli, the brothers were Carlo, Constantino, Ferdinando, Lorenzo and Jean-Baptiste). The picture was taken from the times where their business was at 7, Rue de Charlot, Paris.[2] Also today the distinctive building structure can be seen.

Here are some newer pictures from the old location of F. Ghelfi & Cie. at 7, Rue de Charlot, Paris, one is an actual shot, the others are from vintage postcards which i bought:

Here are some newer Google Street View pictures from the
old location of  F. Ghelfi & Cie. at  7, Rue de Charlot, Paris:

Here are some newer Google Street View pictures from the
old store at 47, Rue de Saintonge, Paris:

4. The Trademarks and Logos from F.G.B.C.

Actually there have been several “trademarks” or “main products” where logos have been created to promote the products sold on the market.  They show up partly on their own, sometimes combined on the products. These were the following:

Letterhead “La Lune”

La Lune_text_sw

F.G.B.C. in a circle:

F.G.B.C._Logo rund

Moonface , “Special Stone only for Good Razors”,
 Straight Razor and F.G.B.C. in a circle

Moonface in a rhomb “Pierre La Lune” exiger La Marque F.G.B.C.  (print from old envelope)

Pierre La Lune a Faux (print from old envelope)

La Lune_nice Moon_SW

Moonface in a square 
“Ne`demandez pas, l’une ou l’autre, mais…LA LUNE”
“Don’t ask for one or the other, ask for….LA LUNE”

5. The quarries from F.G.B.C.

This topic is more or less the most un-researched within the history of F.G.B.C. and its predecessors companies . All quarries which were under position of F.G.B.C. have been listed and documented on the old invoices and letterheads. Up to date it looks like that none of those quarries has been extensively researched and more or less only a bit or no information is available. Those were the quarries named on the letterheads:

La Nouvelle, La Vaûte, La Parisienne
(Gare Merviller-Vacqueville)

Neufmaison, La Boulaye
(Gare Pexonne)

Béménil-Bas, Bréménil-Haut, La Parisienne
(Gare Badonviller)

Its possible that there is a connection between their Trademark
“La Lune” and “Luneville”. In near range of Merviller (Quarry of the Birolleau Family) Chateau Luneville is situated.  So probably the use of the moon symbol is grounded on some personal experiences and memories.

Other approaches were made in France, so it is told that down Merviller (Lorraine) desert like conditions were existent in the past. Because of these conditions fine sand deposits combined with iron oxide built up very fine stone layers.[3] Also there is an entry about a quarry named “Carrière de grès Birolleau” down in Merviller which might be the quarry were the fine sandstone for Grinding wheels had its origin.[4]

6. Steige the origin of the fine red razor hones ?

Within the research i also asked Mr. Wilson if he would ask back some of the geological departments in France about the red fine razor hones sold as “LA LUNE”. Within this research we got a reply from the University of Nancy, department of geology.  Actually Steige was mentioned as a region where these stones might have their origin. Further more research revealed that near Steige sharpening stones seem to have been quarried, but no more details were known or documented.

Another type of slate stone known in this region is a schist type named “Schiste Lie de Vin de Steige”. The stone itself just from its chemical composition shows good properties to be a sharpening stone. It contains 59,3% quartz (SiO2), 22% aluminum oxide (Al2O3) and 7,3% iron oxide (Fe2O3). So if we ever can find a connection to the fine razor hones ? We’ll see in future!

7. Products and Services from F.G.B.C.

F.G.B.C.’s business was not only the quarrying and selling of the stones. They also focused on technical services in terms of building up complete machines of grinding stones.

Here is an older price list from the competitor company as it was
under L. Belle:

Besides these two core businesses they were importers of stones and abrasives from different countries all over the word.  Probably they focused on different businesses to offer a wider range of products and services, or to offer combined solutions on certain special applications.

They sold the following products: 
Arkansas and Washita Stones
Turkey Oil Stones (Pierre Du Levante, Pierre Du L’est)
Razor Hones “LA LUNE”
other razor hones / sharpening Stones

They also sold abrasives like silicium carbide, corundum, big grinding wheels made out of emery or sandstone (white, grey and red) and the fine razor hones which are known as “Pierre La Lune” and “Special Stone only for Good Razors”.

Besides these standard products they sold also razor strops and pastes to be used on the strops.


8. Razor Hones “Pierres a Aiguiser”

La Lune_text_sw

The razor hones sold as “Pierre aiguiser LA LUNE” are very fine razor hones which work the best when oil or a water/gylcerine solution is used. There are different interpretations within the razor scene how these stones should be used best. I yield the best results using glycerine/water mixture. The most important for me besides any interpretation is the proposal beeing made from F.G.B.C. as a seller of the stones.

F.G.B.C. never announced the stones to be used with water, they were always announced to be used with oil. Additionally the results with water are in my point of view not comfortable enough. Additionally the stones sold as “Pierres Belges de Lorraine et du Levant” which is the same slate as the purple La Lune stones should be used with oil

9. Qualities/Grades of the Razor Hones

Many of those stones can be found with rectangular stamps. If the stamps are still visible depends on the condition of the ink. Sometimes they are only visible very faint, sometimes you only see the letters because the areas around the stamp dries faster then the are were the stamp was printed on. The stamp itself shows a rectangular frame where the quality/grade of the stone is printed inside. The qualities were:

Some examples how those stamps do look like:

Normally those stones were stamped in the qualities with fine, very fine and extra fine. In January 2016 the first time a stone was sold on Ebay
(Art. No. 221991500339, in size 17×4,2x2cm, 400gr.) which showed a comparable stamp. But this one wasn’t stamped as usual, it had a stamp with the wording “RAZOR HONE” in french “PIERRE A RASOIR”. I actually believe this was one of the newer stones which were sold from F.G.B.C. on the market. 

10. “LA LUNE” and “SPECIAL STONE ONLY FOR GOOD RAZORS” from other Suppliers

Actually we are not sure if F.G.B.C. was the only seller of the fine
“LA LUNE” and “SPECIAL STONE ONLY FOR GOOD RAZORS” slate stones. Its possible that the quarry owner also sold their products to other suppliers. So ist not clear up to date if the stones being sold from Manufrance (“Pierres Belges de Lorraine et du Levant”) or the Stones sold as “Pierre de L’est bleue” were sold from F.G.B.C./Giovannacci to other sellers or from the quarry owners directly.

Theory No. 1 – regional quarrying operations
Especially on the french market serveral stones appeared which might get connected to the LA LUNE and SPECIAL STONES. Beside of those stones, there are often stones appearing without any stamps or any label. I myself got one in very unusual size (18x9cm) which seems that they have never been offered in these sizes officially. So my first theory is that they might have been sold also regionally which is nothing unusual compared to other types of natural hones.

The second theory is, that it might be that also F.G.B.C. just bought these stones from another company or quarry owner and sold these under their trademark. That could explain that also others might have bough these stones from the quarry owner and sold these types of stones under their own trademark.

The third theory is just that to a certain time the stones from F.G.B.C. haven’t been labelled or stamped!  Its hard to prove those theories either combined or each standing by its own, but i think these are realistic theories. We will find out some time in future!

10.1. Pierre aux Croissants (S.D.P.)

We are today not sure if the stones labelled as “Pierre aux Croissants” are from a competitor or from a follow up company of FGBC. In concerns of this specific topic there are three theories up to date.

S.D.P. could have been used for Societé de Distribution et de Promotion

Theory 1: Societé de Distribution et de Promotion
It showed an additional Logo with a Cirlcle and the shortcuts S.D.P. (Societé de Distribution et de Promotion) which could stand for a trading or distribution company or just a cooperation Partner who had the rights to sell their quarried stones under that Special Trademark. This has to be further more researched!

Theory 2: J. Delaunay
Another trace is a company which had also a abrasive business in Paris. J. Delaunay also used a moon with a face in their Tradmark, so this might be a hint towards the Pierre Aux Croissants stones.

Theory 3: Connection to Severin Robert Droescher
The Ghelfis had a longer business with Severin Robert Droescher (S.R.D.). So there is a chance that S.D. stands for Severin Droescher, right now i don’t know what the P could stand for.

10.2. Pierre de L’est Bleue

Also there are exiting stones with a totally different label, which was shown on Razorandstone from Modine. I asked Modine if i can show the pictures here, so here they are! This one was labelled
“Pierre de L’est Blue”.

10.3. Pierre Aiguiser LA LUNE (T&T)

Those stones appeared in France with the typical La Lune Label. Additionally the stones as the wooden box showed another logo or trademark which is a double Flag with T&T.

T&T Logo or Trademark

10.4. Pierres Belges, De Lorraine et Du Levant

Those stones appear in a very nice wooden Box on top the Logo of MF Manufrance St. Etienne Manufacture Francaise D’Armes et Cycles. The ones i’ve seen so far re-sample the PURPLE LA LUNE stones. The sawmarks on the sides and the coloration makes it easy to identify thos stones as “LA LUNE” Stones.

Another documented case where stones have been officially mislabelled. Actually i believe that during these times the belgian Stones have been

11. A  promise on quality!  The warranty card,
or the “Bulletin de Garantie”

F.G.B.C. was concerned to give a promise on the quality of their products, surely with the intention to convince their customers and create a long binding to them. The “Bulletin de Garantie” was delivered with the fine “LA LUNE” and “SPECIAL STONES”.

Bulletin de Garantie – Pierre Naturelle extra extra “LA LUNE”

Bulletin de Garantie (french original)
“La Pierre à huile à rasoirs naturelle “LA LUNE” ne peut être comparée à aucune autre. La finesse de son grain, sa  pureté minéralogique permettent un aiguisage rationell et parfait, SANS DOMMAGE POUR L’ACIER.  Une sélection rigoureuse de la matière première, provenant des meilleures carrières, une main-d’oeuvre spécialisée, utilisant des procédés millénaires font de cette pierre, LA PREMIERE MARQUE INCONTESTÉE du MARCHÉ MONDIAL.

N.B.  – Soucieux des vos interests, votre fournisseur habituel vous conseiller a la marque “LA LUNE”. Seule pierre pouvant donner une satisfaction absolute. la Perfection dans la qualité !”

Warranty Card (englisch translation)
“The natural oil stone for razors “La Lune” cannot compared to any other stone. The fineness of the particles and his mineralogical purity enables efficiently and perfect honing without any damage to the steel.

The careful first choice from the best quarries, specialized workforce and long established methods make these stones uncontested to the Number Ones trademark of the world.

N.B.  – Soucieux des vos interests, votre fournisseur habituel vous conseiller a la marque “LA LUNE”. This stone will satisfy you. Perfection in Quality!”

12. Combination Stones “Combinaison Stone”

12. Combination Stones “Combinaison Stone”
These are ones of the most interesting combinations stones being around. The stones were sold as “Combinaison Stone” under the article numbers AD12 (120x60mm) and AD20 (200x50mm). The stones are glued on a midsection of wood. Each side of the wooden box has a lid. Sometimes the lids were labelled with stickers or both wordings “La Lune” and “New Master Stone”  were printed or punched inside of the lids.

13. Scythe Stones “Pierre a faux” made of Pierre Natural de Saurat

It seems that already in the earlier times there was a cooperation between F.G.B.C. and one of the older quarry owners who marketed the shale sandstones . The Quarry which is in the region of the Pyrenees down the Valley of Saurat. One of the more known Families running the business over three generations was the Cuminetti family. In 2006 the quarry was taken over form Mr. Alain  Soucille who still runs the business to these days. The scythe stones appeared under the names of many different companies and under all kinds of different trade names and qualities.

Their page of Mr. Alain Soucille can be found here:

14. Arkansas Stones from F.G.B.C.

As being a big importer of all kinds of sharpening stones also  F.G.B.C. did import Arkansas Stones from the United states of America. Actually a lot of the companies dealing with sharpening stones and their supplies did this during the 19th century. They imported the stones and sold them on the local market under their own trademark. A very nice example appeared in 2015 and could be bought from a member of a German wet shaving board. Many thanks to Jörg (Jollo74) who did agreed that i can use this pictures here!

15. Other Stones made by F.G.B.C.

15.1. New Master Stone
F.G.B.C. has, as many other suppliers and producers of abrasives, used the trends to produce and sell men made stones. These stones were made out of Silicon Carbide D48.

15.2. R.C. La Lune “Extra-Fine”
Another “Special Stone” which was produced from F.G.B.C.. It reminds me a bit of the stones which have been produced from JGES and were named “Reform Brocken”. It is impossible to proof from which material/abrasives these stones were made. It is possible that for one of those sides dust from “LA LUNE” stones has been used. 

16. F. Ghelfi, Birolleau & Cie. Prix Courant “Price List from 1974”

In 2014 FERDI (a member of Coupe-Chou Club and SRP) finds an old price list from F.G.B.C. from the year 1974 and shares it thankfully with the community. That was a really important step to become an overview of the prices and the products F.G.B.C. sold on the market.

After talking back to FERDI he wanted to support the Razorlovestones Project. I really wanted to show that price list here in that company profile. Also here a big thank you to FERDI for the permission to use the price list here ! 

17. Unknown Products
During the last years several different products appeared which were not mentioned in the old Prix Courant / Pricelist from FERDI. There were f.ex. a “Pierre a Rasoir Naturelle LA LUNE” and “Double Face Extra Extra”. And the stone which i mentioned earlier with the ink stamp “PIERRE RASOIR”. Then there were those Razor Hones and Belgium Coticules with the double half moon labelled “Pierre Aux Croissants”.

Probably those products were sold by competitors or from predecessor companies of F.G.B.C.. Either those could have been sold in a time frame before or after the price list from 1974.

18. F.G.B.C. on the bigger trade fairs?
Looking back from today we are sure that the Ghelfis’ and their predecessors companies were also active on the bigger trade fairs. This is visible on some of the older Letterheads, besides this there are some old entries. F.G.B.C. received the following medal:

1894: London International Exhibition, Crystal Palace
1895: London International Exhibition, Alexandra Palace
1904: International Fair in Florence,  Big Price and Gold Medal

19. F.G.B.C. and Manufrance
A french catalog company called “Manufrance”, which is still existent today, sold the Stones from F.G.B.C. during a certain time frame. So sometimes we find stones from F.G.B.C. which shows a MF “Manufrance Saint-Étienne” lable which was glued on the stones. Actually till today it wasnt possible to find a reference to these stones in the old Manufrance catalogues.

20. Collection and how to identify french stones
These are most of the stones from my collection which i got from France. Buying stones in France will also bring up very different types mostly out of Europe. I experienced to find the following types of stones in order of their appearance:

Thuringian Stones
Washita / Arkansas Stones

Sometimes UK Slates in black and violet appear, also with a certain regularity Llyn Idwal Stones. So this makes it not too hard to compare the rare French Razor Hones with those types.

Sometimes it happens that a black/grey or grey/brownish stone appears. They show up a comparable glittering. In most cases these are a Pierre Naturelle de Saurat. These are also sold today with a lablel marked “Pierre à Menuiser”. These stones are less fine then the razor hones. I would rate them in between 4K-8K, some might be finer.

The main identifiers for the fine razor hones is in my point of view the type of metallic / bronze appearance of the stones. Talking about the violet/purple variant of the stones they will show up with a typical pattern and will have a bronze look. Talking about the blue/green metallic stones you will see that these show a metallic glittering in the light. The color ranges from a lighter grey-blue towards a blue-green, its also possible the greener areas appear in the stone. These show also the typical pockmarks which looks like little cracks (0,2-0,5mm) in the middle of these cracks you can see a darker spot.

From left to right:
Pierre Naturelle de Saurat (120x60x20mm)
Pierre Naturelle de Saurat (140x70x18mm)
Blue Metallic Razor Hone (140x70x22mm)
Pierre La Lune Combinaison Stone AD12 (120x60x18mm)
Special Stone only for Good Razors (180x45x22mm)

Pierre La Lune Combinaison Stone AD20 (200x50x25mm)
Violet/Purple Razor Hone (165x95x15mm)
Pierre La Lune (120x60x22mm)
Pierre La Lune (100x50x22mm)
Pierre La Lune (90x32x20mm)

Chronology of used Documents and Pictures:

Bardotti, Ghelfi & Cie. Pricelist
106, Rue de Faubourg, Saint-Antoine, 106

D. Giovannacci & L. Ghelfi Pricelist 01.01.1893
84, Rue Du Faubourg, Saint Antoine
Steamplant: 61 Rue de Charonne
Succursales in New York und London

D. Giovannacci & L. Ghelfi Cheque 31.01.1894
84, Rue Du Faubourg, Saint Antoine

D. Giovannacci, L. & B. Ghelfi Cheque 25.11.1897
84, Rue Du Faubourg, Saint Antoine

D. Giovannacci, L. & B. Ghelfi
Office and Storage: 84, Rue Du Faubourg, Saint Antoine
Steamplant: 61 Rue de Charonne
Succursales in New York und London

D. Giovannacci & L. Belle Invoice 06.06.1903
84, Rue Du Faubourg, Saint Antoine
Steamplant: 61 Rue de Charonne
Usine Hydraulique a Cartaro pres. Mass (Italy)

L. Belle Cheque 18.03.1909
87, Rue Du Faubourg, Saint Antoine
(CI-Devant 84 mème Rue)

L. Belle Succr Letter 28.12.1916
D. Giovannacci, L. & B. Ghelfi
87, Rue Du Faubourg, Saint Antoine
(CI-Devant 84 mème Rue)

F. Ghelfi & Cie. Cheque and Invoice 20.06.1922
Maisons F. Ghelfi & Cie. et Birolleau réunies
47, Rue de Saintonge, Paris (Annexe, 7 rue de Charlot)

F. Ghelfi & Cie. Letter 21.04.1922
Maisons F. Ghelfi & Cie. et Birolleau réunies
47, Rue de Saintonge, Paris (Annexe, 7 rue de Charlot)

F. Ghelfi & Cie. Invoice 12.05.1922
Maisons F. Ghelfi & Cie. et Birolleau réunies
47, Rue de Saintonge, Paris (Annexe, 7 rue de Charlot)

L. Belle Succr Envelope 27.06.1923
Maison D. Giovannacci & L. & B. Ghelfi
87, Rue Du Faubourg, Saint Antoine
(CI-Devant 84 mème Rue)

F. Ghelfi & Cie. Letter 12.12.1925
47, Rue de Saintonge, Paris (Annexe, 7 rue de Charlot)

L. Belle Letter 29.03.1926
D. Giovannacci, L. & B. Ghelfi
87, Rue Du Faubourg, Saint Antoine
(CI-Devant 84 mème Rue)

F. Ghelfi & Cie. Invoice 12.12.1925
47, Rue de Saintonge, Paris (Annexe, 7 rue de Charlot)

F. Ghelfi & Cie. Letter 30.10.1933
47, Rue de Saintonge, Paris (Annexe, 7 rue de Charlot)

Établissements Belle (Veuve Valentin Ghelfi Propriétaire)
Letter 22.08.1935
D. Giovannacci, L. & B. Ghelfi
87, Rue Du Faubourg, Saint Antoine
(CI-Devant 84 mème Rue)

F. Ghelfi Birolleau & Cie. Invoice 11.06.1952
47, Rue de Saintonge, Paris

F. Ghelfi Birolleau & Cie. Letter
47, Rue de Saintonge, Paris

F. Ghelfi Birolleau & Cie. Pricelist 01.04.1974
47, Rue de Saintonge, Paris

F. Ghelfi Birolleau & Cie. Letter
47, Rue de Saintonge, Paris

Pictures from Mr. Wilson 13.10.2015
84, Rue du Faubourg, Saint Antoine

Picture Gallery:


[1] http://iltirreno.gelocal.it
[2] Adriana G. Hollet – “Monteregio Pozzo E Parana”, Page 152
[3] http://genetk.overblog.com
[4] http://www.culture.gouv.fr

Many thanks to:
Alan (Mr. Wilson), Jethro (Fikira), Peter (Hatzicho), Jean (Ferdi), Mike (Modine), Jörg (Jollo74), Nicolas (Vierge de Fer), Craig D. and Andrea G. Hollat.

Without your work or contribution the article would not be that detailled and informative as it is now!

Pictures used by permission of:
Andrea G. Hollat
Craig D.
Hatzicho (Peter)
Jörg (Jollo74)
Mike (Modine)
Nicolas (Vierge de Fer)


© text and pictures

created: 02.02.2016 / edited: 09.01.2020