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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