February 02, 2008

TI Worked Back 6/8, with barber's notch and thumb notch

I've been shaving with this razor for the last few months straight.  The Trumper's Violet soap was the lather of choice this morning.

TI Worked Back

Posted by: mparker762 at 08:01 PM
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November 22, 2007

Robert Williams Day

Rooney small style 1 brush
Penhaligon Blenheim Bouquet shaving soap
Illinois #127 strop
Pinaud Clubman aftershave

and this lovely thing ...
RW_Hammered_Shank.jpg
... a hand-forged Robert Williams razor.  I got him to leave the forging marks on the shank and spine just because it's so cool looking.  There's a thumb notch, jimping on the top and bottom of the shank, and jimping on the tail, and the spine is diamond-shaped.  The scales are buffalo horn, tapered near the pivot for extra comfort.  The swayback spine and blade are a feature found on some vintage razors that I find makes for a more comfortable shave.  The blade is foggy because it's cold outside (natural lighting cuts down on the glare problem), and I didn't bother letting the blade cool down to ambient temperature before I snapped the shot.

Posted by: mparker762 at 01:36 PM
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November 10, 2007

Happy Birthday Marines!

Today's shave was a tribute to the Corps, on their birthday.

Rooney small style 1 brush
Truefitt & Hill Luxury Shaving Soap
Illinois #127 strop
Clauss USMC razor
Harris Face milk

The Corps seems to have made two major straight razor purchases, both from Clauss and both of the same type of razor.  One batch had the USMC etched on the blade, and used plain carbon steel.  The second batch had the USMC stamped on the reverse side of the shank, and seems to have used chrome-plated carbon steel.  I believe the unchromed batch probably dated to the Spanish-American war, and the chrome-plated batch to WW1 (the marines having learned the value of rustproofing in the extended Philippine campaigns).  I have two USMC razors, one from each production run.

This morning's razor is from the earlier Spanish-American war production run.  It's pitted and ugly, but still shaves great.
Old_Clauss_USMC.JPG

My other USMC razor is below the fold:
more...

Posted by: mparker762 at 09:15 PM | Comments (7)
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October 28, 2007

Thiers-Issard Wheat Berry day

Rooney small style 1 brush
Trumper's Almond shaving soap
Illinois #127 strop
5/8 Thiers-Issard "Wheat Berry" with ebony scales
Taylor's of Old Bond Street Bay Rum aftershave

The Thiers-Issard company is one of only two remaining large-scale straight razor manufacturers in the west.  This particular razor gets its name from the distinctive worked pattern on the spine that resembles wheat berries.

TIWheatBerry_TrumpAlmond_TaylBayRum.jpg

Posted by: mparker762 at 09:28 AM
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October 03, 2007

...to the shores of Tripoli

Rooney small style 1 brush
Truefitt & Hill Luxury Shaving Soap
6/8 Clauss USMC razor
Illinois #127 strop
Pinaud Clubman aftershave

These razors show up surprisingly often on ebay, much more often than razors from the other service branches.  So far, all of the USMC razors I've seen have been made by Clauss and are of a common model and size, but they seem to be from two major production runs.  I've got one from each batch - the earlier version is plain carbon steel and my example is heavily tarnished and has clearly seen some hard use.  The later version is chrome-plated carbon steel and mine looks to be mint.  I'm guessing the unplated one was made  for the Spanish-American war and the chrome plated one is early 20th century, probably WWI production.  Both the salt air from shipboard life and the humidity in the Philippines would have been hard on an unprotected razor, and explains why the notoriously thrifty Corps would have sprung for the expense of chrome plating on their second batch.

These razors are stoutly built and surprisingly heavy for their size (about 30% heavier than similar razors in my collection).  It wouldn't surprise me if the Marines had included some combat ability in the specifications.

Clauss_USMC.jpg

Posted by: mparker762 at 10:44 AM
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September 17, 2007

DePew Day

Rooney small style 1 brush
Penhaligon Blenheim Bouquet shaving soap
Hand American strop
5/8 DePew's "Perfect Razor"
Pinaud Clubman aftershave

This razor is a real oddity among straight razors, and is thus fairly collectible.  Mr. DePew was clearly proud of his design - he went to the trouble of both patenting it and stamping this on the razor ("DePew's Patent June 6 1882").  Unfortunately this doesn't really explain why there were never any other razors like it in an era where patents were routinely ignored.  The overall length of the razor is similar to other razors of the day, but this razor has a very short blade (about 1" shorter than other razors), a very short shank, and a very long tail (commonly called a "monkey tail").  The short shank only affords room for your thumb and forefinger to grasp the shank, so the other three fingers must rest on the extended tail.  The extended tail thoughtfully provides room for them to fit, but since the razor is controlled from the shank and not the tail they don't do any good back there.  The "Perfect Razor" winds up being a fairly precarious razor to use in practice.

Strangely enough, it shares the short blade and monkey tail design with the ultra-modern Japanese straight razor, the Feather "Artist Club" - though that razor uses a normal-length shank that allows a more natural hold.

DePews_Perfect_Razor.jpg


Compare with the modern Feather:
Feather_Burmashave_Williams.jpg

Posted by: mparker762 at 08:59 AM
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September 15, 2007

Dovo Day

Rooney small style 1 brush
Penhaligon Blenheim Bouquet soap
Sears Craftsman horsehide strop
Dovo Bergischer Lowe razor
D. R. Harris Face Millk

This is one of my favorite razors:

Bergischer_Lowe.jpg

This razor is still being made by Dovo in Solingen Germany, and it can easily hold its own against the best of the vintage razors.  The steel is actually Swedish carbon steel, and has been hardened and tempered very well so this razor will take and hold an extremely fine edge.  It shaves better than my Dubl Duck Wonderedge, and about as well as my Puma Gold or my Sta-Sharp razors, and has always been easy to sharpen.

The diamond-shaped spine is machined into an attractive scalloped pattern then gold plated. The scales are buffalo horn, and are mostly black with some grey figure that unfortunately doesn't show up in the photo.  The strange tip shape is a concave or spanish-style point, and it makes it a bit easier to shave underneath the nose.  Like many vintage Pumas - some of which were subcontracted to Dovo - this razor has a rubber grip on the shank; unfortunately it is a bit of a maintenance hassle to keep rust from forming under the grip.

Posted by: mparker762 at 09:55 PM
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September 13, 2007

Waterville Day

Rooney Brush
D. R. Harris Almond soap
Hand American strop
5/8 Waterville

Although this grand old razor can't hold quite the edge of his more recent brethren he still handles like a dream and delivers a fine shave anyway.  A really great razor.

more...

Posted by: mparker762 at 03:42 PM
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August 27, 2007

Wade & Butcher day

Rooney small style 1 brush
Trumper's Rose shaving soap
Hand American strop
Wade & Butcher 8/8 razor "The Celebrated Hollow Ground Razor for Barber's Use"
Pinaud Clubman aftershave

WBCelebrated_TrumpersRose.jpg

Continuing yesterday's Rule Brittania theme is the justly famous W&B "Celebrated".  Wade & Butcher was by far the most prolific of the Sheffield razor manufacturers, and were exported throughout the British empire and the U.S.A.  Their razors marked "Celebrated" are fairly collectible today, as they were W&B's finest razors made at the peak of that company's existence.  There were at least four different W&B "Celebrated" razors that I am aware of:  The "Celebrated Hollow Ground Razor for Barber's Use" (pictured), the "Celebrated Hollow Ground Razor for Gentleman's Use" which is similar-loooking but much more hollow ground, the "Celebrated Razor for Barber's Use" which was a wedge-style razor, and the "Celebrated India Steel Razor".  These razors were made in a variety of sizes; I've seen them as small as 5/8ths of an inch and as large as 10/8ths of an inch.  This particular example is 1" even, and was probably the most common size in the "Barber's Use" model lines.  It shows the grinding ribs of a double hollow ground razor, but these are very shallow - in profile it's nearly a wedge, and this makes the razor very heavy.  This style of large, heavy wedgy razor is commonly nicknamed "meatchopper" or simply "chopper", due to its similarity to a meat cleaver.

The original razor would have had wooden or vulcanized rubber scales, but this razor has been fitted with some very attractive Giraffe Bone scales by Robert Williams.  Although the giraffe bone scales are heavy, they actually help improve the balance of the razor when shaving, making it feel lighter and more maneuverable than the original trim.

WB_Victorian_Cross.jpg


This razor would have probably been made in the 1860's - earlier razors were the wedge type grind, and later razors were much more hollow ground.  In the detail photo to the right you can just see the Victoria Cross on the blade underneath the word "use".




The brown rectangle below the soap bowl in the top photo is a barber's hone.  This one is a Dubl Duck combination hone; the brown side is the fine-grit side, and the other side is a light-gray coarse-grit side.  This razor needed a bit of a touch-up before shaving so I gave it about 20 laps on the brown side before shaving, and that seemed to do the trick.

Posted by: mparker762 at 08:34 AM
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August 26, 2007

Wade & Butcher day

Rooney small style 1 brush
Trumper's Violet soap
Hand American strop
8/8 Wade & Butcher frameback razor
Pinaud Clubman aftershave

WBFrameback_TrumpersViolet.jpg

This particular razor is an extremely old fellow.  Wade & Butcher made razors from 1818 - 1890, so it's well over 100 yrs old.  Instead of being hollow-ground, this razor has flat-ground sides with the spine left thick, so it looks sort of like a sharpened "T" in cross section.  The frameback style largely went out of production in the late 1830's as improved grinding methods were developed.  Another detail that helps date this razor is the way the blade tapers from the far end  (the toe) back towards the shank end (the heel).  This tapered style of blade was common before the 1830's when blades were ground out of triangular pieces of steel.   This particular razor also lacks the characteristic "VR" mark of razors manufactured during the reign of Queen Victoria.  Though precise dating is difficult, the combination of tapered blade, frameback grind, and lack of Victorian markings would seem to indicate that it dates back to the reign of William IV or possibly the first few years of Victoria's reign.

Whatever its age, it is an incredible razor - far and away my favorite Sheffield razor.  Later Sheffield razors seem to be made of softer steel, and take a different-feeling edge that may be due to the use of cast instead of forged steel; this is the only Sheffield razor I own that compares favorably with Solingen or American razors in terms of sharpness and edge retention.  When I got it off of ebay it show very few signs of having ever been used.  There are a few spots of corrosion on the blade that look like alkaline etching from shaving lather, but the bevel is as narrow as my razors that were purchased new.

The brush and soap are also British, though thankfully of much more recent vintage.  The respective firms are both old respected establishments.  George Trumper opened his barber shop in 1875, and R. A. Rooney started making brushes in the 1700's.  All in all this morning's shave is a nice homage to British shaving from the days when the sun never set on the British Empire.

Posted by: mparker762 at 09:21 AM
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