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A collection of straight razors , I guess !

I feel that I have to admit that I am becoming a collector , this may sound strange as I am writing this on i Knife Collector and this is ...well the place for collectors .

I have never really collected anything before , in the past I have always had a pocket knife and sometimes two or maybe three but never anymore than that.  I have had knives since I was eight or nine , something like that anyway and I can hardly remember a time when I didn't look in shop windows at knives . When I went on holiday with my parents they would ask if I wanted a "bucket and spade" for playing on the beach but I would end up looking at penknives in shop windows . They were usually rather small and cheap often with the name of the resort on the handle , I am told some people collect these now and I could see a sort of period charm about them . I have seen them for sale in antique centres and sort of recollected owning them as a child . Of course what I really wanted was something more akin to a Bowie Knife but as with all children I knew how far that I could push things and Bowie Knives had to wait till I was a little older , around ten or twelve I think . Strange but I am 63 now and would be arrested if I was found walking around with the sort of knives that I had at twelve years old .

Well now to come back to my confession , three years ago on my sixtieth birthday I ordered my first knife from the States . A GEC Cody Scout in black micarta , model 72 and it ticked all the boxes in a knife for me at that time . It was the sort of knife that I had wanted for years but without having access to a PC I hadn't known that such knives existed . A couple of years before that I got a PC for the first time and just before my sixtieth birthday had discovered on Youtube the videos of how GEC make their knives , I was smitten , these were the sort of knives that made my world revolve and I just had to have one . Sixtieth birthday who could complain , I had not bought anything online at the time and buying that knife felt like a big step and from the States as well !!!!

One knife that was all , I had only ever wanted one good knife . Opinels had been the best knives that I had come up with ,  good carbon steel , inexpensive so if you lost it then it wasn't a big deal. Losing knives was something that I had to consider as I had lost just about all of them apart from some I had given away and rather a lot that had proven to be pure junk .

Well this GEC was to be my one and only GREAT knife that I would carry from now to dropping off the perch . Rather a lot to choose from though when you  look at the number of models produced by GEC , good job I didn't know of the existence of Queen , Case or any other makers . So after a great deal of worry and stress the knife turns up in the UK and... "Happy Birthday"... thanks to the GEC and a little malt whisky it was as well .

I have a few knives now though I expect that most on iKC would think my collection modest .   When I had bought just a few knives it began to dawn on me that my sharpening skills were lacking .  I could put a bit of an edge on a knife and had done so for years but when you start to buy good quality knives with the intention of using them  then it would seem wise to learn some sharpening techniques . So I did , youtube is great for that , I know some poor fools who think that youtube is all about talking cats and have no idea what a fantastic resource it is !  Having learned to sharpen I was returning to the house after putting an edge on a Fallkniven when I tried shaving arm hair , as you do , what a revelation it took that hair off like a razor !... and damn it all I was smitten again !

I could just buy a razor from eBay and try to sharpen it up see how I get on , right yeah course you can , there is a pattern emerging here I think . Just one razor learn how to sharpen it boost my skills etc.

I have eleven working razors and have started to look at different types of razor ,  things that I didn't know existed until recently . Up until buying a frameback razor it was possible to argue , with less and less conviction admittedly , that I needed one or two extra's in case I didn't have time to sharpen one in a morning and then i would have a spare . However when you start to look at razors from a collectors point of view then it becomes rather difficult to argue that you are not collecting them .

So here I stand ,  I am at last willing to admit that I am indeed a collector of straight razors  .

So the idea of this blog is to give me a place to witter on at length about my new-ish  found obsession with cutthroat or straight razors . The other blog I will try to restrict to shaving stuff and this one will I hope be about the way you can build a collection of straight's at little cost . It has to be "at little cost" because I have limited spare cash and was brought up in Lancashire in the fifties when nobody had any spare cash .

So next up a little about the different types of razor to be had on eBay.

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Comment by John Bamford on May 28, 2017 at 10:32

Dale my friend just look at these lovely shaving soaps , if you could smell them you would want to shave .

There really aren't that many when you see them outside of the shelf that they live on . Ten I reckon and if two of them weren't quite large , one kilo blocks , then it would seem to be an inconsequential amount . In fact having proved to myself that I relly have so few I feel there could be room for one or two more .

As for what makes them different Dale soaps come in two main categories creams and hard soaps , though there are sort of semi hard soaps like in the large packets above . Creams are easy to use , the hard soaps are a little more tricky to lather but tend to be of a higher quality , perhaps .  None of this makes a great deal of sense just as learning to use a straight razor with all the trouble and expense with sharpening etc does . It is just making a chore into a pleasure , the latest one I bought is a rather nice French artisan soap with a rose scent that I thought would be rather... sort of Victorian in nature and well suited to a razor made in the eighteen hundreds .

Comment by D ale on May 26, 2017 at 19:08

Well John .. I have to agree on one point for sure.

Shaving is a chore .. to the point .. I've sported a full beard for the last 40+ years.
When in the military .. I "had to" shave every day. It became a chore .. 'n then some. I quit a few days before I got out ..&.. haven't shaved since.

.

So Sue thinks you've enough soaps to last a lifetime. He he .. somebody told me that about knives once. What is it that makes them different ? Certainly more than just the scent ..or.. no. Do they effect the shaving process differently? Do they add sort of a lubrication to the process ?

.

ONE TIME in boot camp I did not shave in the morning. I and 3 other individuals were handed very dull disposable razors & made to "dry shave" in front of the company that morning.

!! ouch !!

Comment by John Bamford on May 26, 2017 at 12:31

My collection of razors has stalled of late , due to the need to get a comprehensive collection of sharpening equipment . However I have a confession to make razors need to soap to complete the required task . A lot of people would be satisfied with a nice soap or maybe two nice soaps just so that a change could be made at the weekend . 

That collecting bug seems to be getting a firm grip of me and I have promised to count the soaps that I have needed , perhaps on Sunday .. Sunday is a good day for counting soaps .  Sue seems to think that I will not live to use up the supply and whilst that seemed a little harsh at the time there maybe a kernel of truth in there somewhere . Will take a picture later so that others can see the follies of age and infirmity !!

Having got that off my chest I can at least say that shaving brushes I can take or leave and have so far restricted myself to only three .

Comment by John Bamford on January 28, 2017 at 15:20

Well it is a strange thing but I have around twenty razors and they all feel different . 

It is not that I am becoming an expert razor person , not at all .

It is just a fact that straight razors all behave and feel different , I would not have believed this without having experienced it .

Why for instance should a straight from Sheffield be so smooth , just as everyone says . After all it is just a piece of sharpened steel , just as a razor from Solingen or a razor from the US is a piece of sharpened steel .

I don't know the answer to this question only that everyone says that Sheffield makes smooth razors and when you try one ..... well it is true .      Not a little bit true but blindingly true and so staggeringly smooth that it can leave you at a loss to explain it , and yet there must be an explanation .

This doesn't mean that my Sheffield razors do a better job at shaving the whiskers off my chin . What it does mean is that the shaving of the whiskers is such a pleasant experience that it makes you ponder on the question of why ? 

I am not claiming this as a matter of national pride or anything like that . What I am claiming is that Sheffield made in the mid 1900's the most pleasurable shaving razors that have been made and since then we have only gone downhill to the state that most men find shaving a chore rather than a pleasure . Isn't that a shame .

Comment by David Mullins on December 19, 2016 at 17:23

Great story! I have collected things most of my life. First knives, then guitars, then firearms and tractors and now back to knives. Never an expert on anything though. It's just fun.

Comment by John Bamford on November 25, 2016 at 12:37

Received the last of the ivory handled razors from Malcolm Carpenter yesterday , less than twelve hours after buying it online . These razors are quite sharp out of the box but I gave them a little touch up and was rewarded with the best shave of my life they are uncannily smooth on the skin !!

Comment by John Bamford on November 23, 2016 at 9:14

I received the other Sheffield razor today and though it looks similar on the photo it is very much lighter than the first one .

Well you see Malcolm Carpenter had one more similar razor left and I was feeling guilty about it being left on the shelf ,.....so I have ordered that one as well . Should be here on Saturday and then there will be three !!

Comment by John Bamford on November 21, 2016 at 12:04

A picture of new razor and an old advert for the razors ,


This advert was from 1871 , I do love these old ad's !
Comment by John Bamford on November 21, 2016 at 8:02

As the UK is poised to ban the sale of antique ivory , or so they say on the news, I thought I really ought to buy another razor from Mr Carpenter before it's too late  . So a second John and William Ragg is on it's way , a Paragon this time ,  though it does look rather similar to the Napoleon .

Will have to look for a nice box or something similar to keep them in , especially if I can find the funds to buy the third one that is available !! 

Comment by John Bamford on November 14, 2016 at 13:14

I should have put a picture on here of my latest razor , bought from Mr Carpenter . It's a Napoleon brand by John and William Ragg made in Sheffield in the 1860's and boast's Ivory handle scales , and I love it to pieces .

Haven't used it yet purely because I wanted to make sure that I was happy with my sharpening before attempting this one . I figure that I am getting there now so will sharpen it next week when I have a bit of time away from work .

I have to admit to really liking the ivory scales even though I wouldn't be so happy about buying one with new ivory on. The elephant has been dead for a long time now though so I don't feel so bad !

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