January 21, 2018
By Claire Sumner, Conservation Technician
This recorder is made of “black slate” argillite. Argillite can be found in a multitude of colors, but the black slate variety is only found at one quarry on the island of Haida Gwaii in British Columbia. The argillite was not quarried in large quantities until the 1800s when carvers began to produce objects for commercial sale. In 1941, the quarry was made a mineral reserve. Now, argillite can only be quarried with the permission of the Haida people Argillite is an incredibly soft stone, which makes it attractive to carvers, but it can be a challenge for collections care. Argillite scratches easily, so extra attention needs to be taken to avoid unnecessary handling during conservation and when creating storage and display mounts.