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.

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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.

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August 19, 2007

C-Mon Day

Rooney small style 1 brush
Trumper's Almond shaving soap
Hand American strop
5/8 C-Mon Special #1 stainless
Taylor's of old Bond Street Bay Rum aftershave

The problematic C-Mon has finally been brought to heel.  Great shave with no irritation.  The Trumper's Almond is a nice (though odd-smelling) shaving soap, and this particular soap and bay rum aftershave combine to produce a really intoxicating post-shave aroma.
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August 18, 2007

Friodur Day

Rooney small style 1 brush
Truefitt & Hill Luxury Shaving Soap
Hand American strop
5/8 Henckels Friodur


The Friodur is a NOS vintage razor, and a lovely shaver.  Friodurs are like that...
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August 12, 2007

From the halls of Montezuma...

Rooney small style 1 brush
Penhaligon Blenheim Bouquet soap
Hand American strop
6/8 Clauss USMC straight razor
Pinaud Clubman aftershave

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August 06, 2007

TIPTLE day

Rooney small style 1 brush in finest badger
Truefitt & Hill Luxury Shaving Soap
Hand American strop
5/8 Thiers-Issard "Pierre Thiers Limited Edition"
Pinaud Clubman aftershave

This particular Thiers-Issard is a limited run of roughly 400 blades that they found in the back of their warehouse a few years ago.  They were hand-forged by the company's founder Pierre Thiers in the late 1800s from Sheffield steel, and had apparently been set aside and never used.  These razors are an odd thing both by vintage or modern standards.  For one thing they are all slightly different, which is consistent with hand-forging but still strange in an era where these things were mass-produced the way Mach 3's are today.  But some consistent styling elements include:

- the barber's notch at the end of the blade (in a variety of sizes and positions)
- a bellied blade with an "S" shaped spine, the scalloped jimping on the bottom of the shank (you can clearly see this in the photo)
- the double-ground but only half-hollow blade (most double-ground blades are paper-thin in the middle of the blade, but on these razors the sides of the blade are only slightly dished in despite two passes on the grinder)
- the small duck-tail tail on the razor

Also in an odd turn for Sheffield steel, these razors seem to have a very high carbon content and take an extremely fine edge.  Most Sheffield razors of that vintage aren't terribly hard - they will take a good edge but won't keep it very long, but they are easy to hone.  Razors in that era from the other major steelmaking regions like Solingen, the USA, and Eskilstuna (Sweden) tend to be much harder than Sheffield razors.  But this TI razors, made from Sheffield steel, is a standout performer even compared with the best modern razors using the best modern steel.

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August 05, 2007

Friodur day

Rooney small style 1 brush in finest badger
Trumper's Violet soap
Hand American strop
7/8 Henckels Friodur
Murray & Lanman Florida Water

I've been fussing around with a stainless C-Mon the last few days and decided to switch things up with the greatest of the stainless razors, the Henkels Friodur.  This particular razor is sporting a set of Oryx horn scales, but more importantly it takes and holds an extremely fine edge - this razor has needed honing only once or twice in the last few years.
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