Pine forests and gemmage

The pine forests were natural in the Landes. On the contrary, in the Double, they came from the pine reforestation of the beginning of the 20th century due to the numerous fires.

The gemmage was introduced in the Dordogne around 1850, notably in Montagnac la Crempse in the Berthinie area. Then it was developed in the 1920s by training silviculturists in this technique and by setting up gem distillation plants in La Roche-Chalais, Le Fleix and Saint-Jean d’Eyraud as close as possible to the forests, in conjunction with a softwood soap factory in Bergerac in the 1930s. Perigordine gemstone disappeared in 1954 when the French market was opened to European gemstone products.

The resin tree obtained the resin by peeling the pine by vertical bleeding or « care ». The resin flowing out of it to heal the wound was collected in a small pot placed at the bottom of the care. The gathering or harvest, which consisted of emptying the pots into the squares and then into a barrel, took place 4 to 6 times a year between March and November.

This resin was then heated and distilled to separate the turpentine from the arcanson or rosin.

Illustrations :

– Postcard of the Grand Claud pine forest in Saint Vincent de Connezac in the 1930s (Collection Henri Brives)

– Postcard of the Bernard softwood products factory in Fleix in the 1920s. SHAP’s icon library

– Cover page of the 1838 book by M. Mauny de Mornay’s forester, a complete guide to the cultivation and exploitation of wood and the manufacture of coals and resins ©Musée André Voulgre