The following interesting letter was published in Plastics in February 1940.It was was written by a M. Forres of M.I.O.M. (Manufacture d'Isolants et Objects Moules).
When I wrote you that the plaques published in your June issue were manufactured by our firm about the year 1910 I was guessing that date from an old catalogue of our firm, published about that time, which is still in my possession and which shows these plaques - as well as other articles made from “bois durci”.
Upon consulting in our library an old treatise of the art of moulding, the “Nouveau Manuel Complet du Mouleur”, by Lebrun and Magnier, republished in 1917, I found, however, that the invention of “bois durci” goes back to the year 1855, when the inventors, Lepage and Talrich, got a French patent on that subject. Later, a certain M. Latry bought these patent rights and went ahead with the manufacturing and selling side of the problem. I am enclosing a copy of the French text to which I am referring.
One of our former directors told me recently that our firm, founded in 1898, bought the business of M. Latry between 1898 and 1901. The moulding of “bois durci” - with the old moulds taken over from M. Latry - went on until about 1907 or 1908, when the blood/wood flour mixtures were gradually replaced by mixtures of natural resins and wood flour and, later, by synthetic resins and wood flour, although the old trade-mark “bois durci” was still applied to these mouldings of a different composition. During the War 1914-1918, similar plaques showing Joffre, Foch. etc. - were moulded by compressing ordinary wood flour, without any addition, in blue-hot steel moulds. After 1920 these artistic mouldings disappeared entircly from our catalogues.
The chief outlet for mouldings in “bois durci” were plaques and ornaments for the furniture trade and especially for pianos, artistic inkstands and ash-trays, etc.
The Beethoven series included similar plaques of Rossini, Meyerbeer, Gluck, Handel, Mendelssohn, Auber, Wagner, Mozart, Haydn, etc.
I am told that, among the old moulds taken over from M. Latry there exists still one representing a rather young Queen Victoria - it seems that the corresponding plaques were on sale at the “Exposition Universelle” of the year 1867.