1672-1822: Artificial Ancient Granite and Marble

I'm actually pretty excited about this little discovery. I think it could explain how people in the past moved and shaped objects like these:
I also think that this could explain how our "antique" statues made out of "solid marble" were really made. It could also explain why 99% of all our "ancient" statues, busts, etc, were "discovered" in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Artificial Stone
I did not go beyond the official Wikipedia Article pertaining to the narrative compliant history of the artificial stone production. Why would I? Wiki is the tool to give us the official version, and as such, the information provided has to be properly reflecting TPTB position on the issue.
  • History:
    • One of the earliest artificial stones was the Coade stone (SH Article), a ceramic created by Eleanor Coade (1733–1821), and produced from 1769 to 1833.
      • not an artificial granite
    • Later, in 1844, Frederick Ransome created a Patent Siliceous Stone, which comprised sand and powdered flint in an alkaline solution. By heating it in an enclosed high temperature steam boiler the siliceous particles were bound together and could be moulded or worked into filtering slabs, vases, tombstones, decorative architectural work, emery wheels and grindstones.
      • Developed around 1844
      • not an artificial granite
    • This was followed by Victoria stone, which comprises finely-crushed Mountsorrel granite solid surface and Portland cement, carefully mixed by machinery in the proportions of three to one and cast in moulds of the required shape. When the blocks are set hard the moulds are loosened and the blocks placed in a solution of silicate of soda for about two weeks for the purpose of indurating and hardening them. Many manufacturers turn out a material that is practically non-porous and is able effectually to resist the corroding influence of sea air or the impure atmosphere of large towns.
    • Most later types of artificial stone have consisted of fine cement concrete placed to set in wooden or iron moulds. It could be made more cheaply and more uniform than natural stone, and was widely used. In engineering projects, it had the advantage that transporting the bulk materials and casting them near the place of use was cheaper than transporting very large pieces of stone.
      • not an artificial granite
  • Engineered stone
    • Engineered stones are the latest development of artificial stones, it was invented in the early 1980s and have since been continuously developed by the Italian company Breton S.P.A.'s late founder Marcello Toncelli and marketed as Bretonstone.
    • Engineered stones are a mix of marble powder, resin, and pigment cast using vacuum oscillation to form blocks. Slabs are then produced by cutting, grinding, and polishing. Some factories have developed a special, low-viscosity, high-strength polyester resin to improve hardness, strength, and gloss and to reduce water absorption.
    • There are two major varieties of engineered stones based on the main composition of its aggregates (stone powders), marbles and quartz. The process is more or less similar except in certain details, however the two product have different commercial applications.
    • Engineered marbles are most commonly used as flooring for large commercial projects. Engineered quartz is widely used in the developed world for counter tops, window sills, and floor and wall coverings.
    • The vast majority of engineered stone companies are located in Greater China, India, and its birthplace in Italy.
KD: Essentially, the narrative tells us that our artificial granite:
  • was not developed until 1980's
  • uses resin
  • has marble powder mix (and I assume granite, or whatever other powder as well)
  • was given a cool name of "engineered stone"
Artificial Granite and Marble


Source + Extra Source
Above we have an example of the production specifications as recorded in 1839. I do not know who this Mr. D'Harcourt was, or where he received this education. This information is relevant but not for this little article. We are after the date here.

I have a strong belief that our Mr. D'Harcourt did not invent the method he patented in 1839. One of the reasons for it is this 1822 publication titled:
The above 1822 pub specifically talks about multiple issues related to the Artificial Granite. And while you can follow the link on your own I wanted to point out one specific issue with artificial granite as described in the above pub.



I was not educated enough to know what this "desquamation" was (I hope I was not the only one), so I naturally turned to Google for answers:
  • Desquamation, commonly called skin peeling, is the shedding of the outermost membrane or layer of a tissue, such as the skin.
  • Desquamation - Wikipedia
Today, the proper term for stone desquamation is exfoliation. For granite we have this:
  • Exfoliating granite is a granite undergoing exfoliation, or onion skin weathering (desquamation). The external delaminated layers of granite are gradually produced by the cyclic variations of temperature at the surface of the rock in a process also called spalling. Frost and ice expansion in the joints during the winter accelerate the alteration process while the most unstable loosen external layers are removed by gravity assisted by runoff water.
Exfoliation aka desquamation process is also known as spalling:
  • Flaking (also called spalling) in natural stone is generally an indicator of sub-florescence, a condition in which mineral salts are carried into the stone by moisture and accumulate beneath the stone’s surface, creating stress within the pores of the stone. This condition can be particularly damaging if the stone experiences freeze-thaw cycles, since the moisture and salts will freeze and expand, building up even more pressure within the stone.
KD: At some point I thought that exfoliation was indicative of a stone being artificial. I was wrong, and it is now apparent that both artificial and natural stone can experience exfoliation.
  • At the same time we can conclude, that based on the available information, the earliest text-proven production of the artificial granite happened no later than 1822. This date is based on an amateur Google Ngram research of mine, which suggest that with additional efforts the date could be pushed father back in time.
How good were those 19th century artificial stone makers? May be the below excerpt could give us an idea.

Artificial Marbles
As far as marbles go, we have some even older information. I did not find the entire book from 1672. You can give it a try using this link here: 1672 Book

Some of the above types of artificial marbles are actually pretty old. It's important to understand the difference between "their" stacco, and our "modern" one.
  • Ancient Stacco uses:
    • Stucco has also been used as a sculptural and artistic material. Stucco relief was used in the architectural decoration schemes of many ancient cultures. Examples of Egyptian, Minoan, and Etruscan stucco reliefs remain extant. In the art of Mesopotamia and ancient Persian art there was a widespread tradition of figurative and ornamental internal stucco reliefs, which continued into Islamic art, for example in Abbasid Samarra, now using geometrical and plant-based ornament. As the arabesque reached its full maturity, carved stucco remained a very common medium for decoration and calligraphic inscriptions. Indian architecture used stucco as a material for sculpture in an architectural context. It is rare in the countryside.
    • In Roman art of the late Republic and early Empire, stucco was used extensively for the decoration of vaults. Though marble was the preferred sculptural medium in most regards, stucco was better for use in vaults because it was lighter and better suited to adapt to the curvature of the ceiling. Baroque and Rococo architecture makes heavy use of stucco. Examples can be found in churches and palaces, where stucco is mostly used to provide a smooth, decorative transition from walls to ceiling, decorating and giving measure to ceiling surfaces. Stucco is an integral part of the art of belcomposto, the Baroque concept that integrates the three classic arts, architecture, sculpture, and painting.
  • Modern Stacco - Modern stucco is used as an exterior cement plaster wall covering. It is usually a mix of sand, Portland cement, lime and water, but may also consist of a proprietary mix of additives including fibers and synthetic acrylics that add strength and flexibility. Modern synthetic stucco can be applied as one base layer and a finish layer, which is thinner and faster to apply, compared to the traditional application of three-coat stucco.
Artificial Marble in General

1853 Mining Magazine
I am not going to dig in these artificial marbles. You can help yourself out using this link here - plenty of books to look at. Here is just a few:
Below you can see a small cutout, which I think is pretty telling. As you can see, having artificial marble columns cast using molds was nothing special for the "common people" living in 1736. As a matter of fact they were surprised to see columns made with real marble.

Synthethic Opal - Opals of all varieties have been synthesized experimentally and commercially. The discovery of the ordered sphere structure of precious opal led to its synthesis by Pierre Gilson in 1974.
Synthetic Sapphire - In 1902, the French chemist Auguste Verneuil developed a process for producing synthetic sapphire crystals.
Synthetic Amethyst - Synthetic (laboratory-grown) amethyst is produced by a synthesis method called hydrothermal growth, which grows the crystals inside a high-pressure autoclave. Synthetic amethyst is made to imitate the best quality amethyst. Its chemical and physical properties are the same to that of natural amethyst and it can not be differentiated with absolute certainty without advanced gemmological testing (which is often cost-prohibitive).

KD: Sounds like there is a whole lot we do not know about our not so distant past. Really, why would you spend time to quarry some 800 ton slab of granite, transport it to a city, and then spend time shaping, and lifting it. Apparently our so-called ancient forefathers were not as dumb, as our pseudo historians want us to think. They simply produced enough of the elusive artificial granite and avoided the below non-sense.

Also, with most of our "ancient" statues and busts discovered in the 19th century... are we still supposed to believe that for 2,000 years they were waiting to get discovered?
  • Filippo Baldinucci (1624-1697) said the following, "Bernini liked to boast that in his hands marble could become as impressionable as wax and as soft as dough." Bernini's marble does indeed seem to mutate into other substances: fibrous rope; brilliant steel; locks of hair.
  • Bernini’s son Domenico, surely recording his father’s own analogies, also singled out the greatest prize of the artist’s chisel as his victory over the hardness of marble, rendering it “pliable as wax…. obedient to the human hand as if made of dough - pasta.”