Idar-Oberstein Agate Handles

Posted by – July 2, 2013

Most crochet hooks were made out of common materials so it is a treat to come across a crochet hook with a semiprecious agate handle. The agate handles were manufactured in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, from agate mined in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Historically there were agate deposits at Idar-Oberstein and water power to help work the stone. Local workers became experts at cutting, grinding and polishing the stone. When agate deposits began to play out about 1800, hunger caused many of the workers to emigrate to South America. In 1927 some of these Germans discovered agate deposits in Rio Grande do Sul. The expertise for working agate still remained in Germany and beginning in 1834 raw agate was shipped to Idar-Oberstein as cheap ballast on ships returning empty to Germany. Manufacturing items from Brazilian agate continued until World War II.

Crochet hooks with agate handles were made using the same methods used for bone handled hooks from the mid to late 1800s. A metal collet glued to the bone or agate held a removable steel needle in place. Crochet hook manufacturers who wanted a higher priced line of hooks probably just ordered handles from Idar-Oberstein manufacturers to fit the metal parts they were already using. Some of the hooks were further embellished with silver and the hooks also came in boxed sets with multisized hooks. A lovely gift then and now.

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