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Well I am starting this blog to record my return to an older type of shaving . Like most of us I at present use the ubiquitous supermarket disposable razors , and have done so for , well I don't really know how long . When did these disposable and cartridge type of razors come about ? I guess I have been shaving regularly since I was around 16 which ,as I was born in 1953 , make it around 1969 when I started . I have a memory a very faint one I admit , to having a razor that twisted to open and receive a double edge blade of the kind that came in little rectangular boxes . I remember that the  blades came wrapped in paper and the used blades were posted into a slot in the back of the box . Now that is all I actually remember of these things and as soon as the more modern types , disposables came out I started using them. Well you would wouldn't you how many teenagers want to do things as their Fathers do most of us wanted to look modern I guess , well I did anyway .

So where is all this rambling leading to , I am glad you asked !  As I am getting somewhat better at sharpening knives My poor weak mind seems to be taken with the idea of buying a straight razor from an antiques centre ,something from the 1880's to around the demise of the Old Queen , in 1901 I think . I admit that I only knew the date of Queen Victoria's death from watching my favourite John Wayne film The Shootist . So the thought of going from a modern razor to an inexpertly sharpened cutthroat  is for me a daunting prospect and unusually good sense has prevailed and instead of leaping straight back to the end of the nineteenth century perhaps the 1950's may be a better place to start .

I have now checked out a few video's on YouTube and have found that the razors that I remember from my youth are indeed called DE or double edge . In fact this whole retro shaving lark is alive and kicking without me knowing anything about it . Youtube is awash with helpful young fellows scraping the whiskers off their finely honed chins with razors that they certainly don't remember from the first time round . Mind you I have learned an awful lot more about shaving than my Father ever taught me ,I guess it must have been him that showed me the ropes though I don't remember the lesson .

So I now have an Edwin Jagger DE89 razor and am waiting for those fine folks at Amazon to deliver the rest of the not inconsiderable amount of gear that it seems I must have . A styptic pencil ,what a word from the dawn of history , anyway I have forgotten to order one so in the short term things may get bloody !! The razor looks nice and I am thinking that it is probably of a lot higher quality than I would have had in the late sixties. I would likely have had an old one of my Dad's to start .

I hope to return to this blog in the future , blood loss allowing , and record my return journey to the shavings of my youth and hopefully back in time to the days of the Old Queen and a wonderful straight razor . Got to get through my lack of a styptic pencil first , can't imagine what a young girl in the chemist will think if I ask for one of those .

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Tags: ., DE, Ramblings, Razors, Shaving, Time, Travel

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Comment by John Bamford on February 20, 2017 at 14:12

Well it has been a year now since I wrote the first part of this blog , how quickly time does pass !
My wish was to return to an earlier way of shaving and in the past year that is just what I have done . Learning to use a DE razor again was really no trouble at all and they are a whole lot better to shave with than the multi blade disposable type , which seem to be an unnecessarily complex and expensive answer to a question that no one asked .
The next step that I wished to achieve was to buy , sharpen and learn to use a straight razor from the time of Queen Victoria . I am happy to now have several razors from that era and have managed to get them back into use .
So to finish off this blog a brief summary of this process may be of help to anyone else who wishes to follow this path .
Well learning to use a DE is easy and a good introduction to the old fashioned way of shaving . However using a straight razor is a little more demanding to start with and there is a definite learning curve to be negotiated ! However as long as you go slowly and steadily then there is nothing to be afraid of .
Sharpening a razor , now that is probably a more tricky area to approach . The reasons why are because of the sheer amount of information available online these days . Without youtube learning this sort of thing would be tricky , however with youtube it is very easy to get lost in the sheer amount of conflicting views . I have bought an awful lot of sharpening gear over the past year and although I don't begrudge it in all honesty I could have managed with a lot less . Sharpening a razor isn't as difficult as the terribly earnest guys on some of the forums would have you believe , but you do need a set of sharpening stuff which is a whole lot finer than you might have for your knives .
Anyone who wants to have a go at this way of shaving and are willing to take my advice then to save a lot of time and effort simply buy a sharp razor and a pasted loom or paddle strop.
Not all razors are sharp from the maker just as is the case with knives . So buy a razor from someone who guarantees to sharpen it for you and you will be able to maintain the edge with a pasted strop for long enough to get used to the art of using an open razor . You could do that with new equipment for around £100 in the UK and a good deal less if you use ebay and know someone who can sharpen . Got to be a guy who is used to razors though !! I am sure that the price would be somewhat less in the States . If I knew then what I know now the whole operation could have been done a lot cheaper , wouldn't have been as much fun though.
Oh yes the answer to the question I get asked most frequently is, I have cut myself three times and none of them were at all serious just about the same as I used to do with a disposable .

Comment by Jan Carter on December 27, 2016 at 20:11

I am still just amazed at the number of older razors, still in fantastic shape out there.  I suspect there must have been many razor collectors early on (1920-1940).

John, I was imagining the noise the thinner razor is making, I don't think I would like that.  Seems using one of these razors should be a time of peace and tranquility..unfocused could be rather bad

Comment by John Bamford on December 27, 2016 at 12:27

Thanks Dale , and your kindness helped the collection to grow in quality !

Comment by D ale on December 27, 2016 at 12:22

It's been a good year for you, John .. congrats !!!


I went back & read this thread .. very nice !!!

Comment by John Bamford on June 17, 2016 at 17:00

Thanks Jan , it has been an interesting trip that only started in February . I have learned what appears to be an awful lot about razors and sharpening in that time , though I am sure there is a long way to go . If this helps others to see that it isn't as scary as you may at first think and if I can revive some old razors that craftsmen made some years ago then anyone else could do the same .

Comment by John Bamford on December 27, 2016 at 12:20

You are right Allan , an unfortunate choice of words !!

Comment by allanm on December 27, 2016 at 12:04

Ha! I know what you mean by "as long as the razor is in good nick" - but I see nick, and razor in the same sentence and think of my neck and face, and I'm somewhat of a coward ... :-) 

Comment by John Bamford on December 27, 2016 at 11:32

Thanks Allan you are becoming my go to guy for information on our mutual differences if you know what I mean .

You would have little trouble with razor sharpening if you were to turn your hand to it . The angle is built in as long as the razor is in good nick . All you really need is a bunch , or even two stones, that are fine enough and a light touch . The light touch can be tricky when you are used to sharpening knives , on a razor you are not really going to take off a lot of steel  and the old ones aren't using any super steel anyway . Then get stropping on a leather and the job is a good one , it just gets better from there really .

I have said it before but knives are rather more complicated ,  different uses , different steels , varied angles etc etc  !!

Comment by allanm on December 27, 2016 at 10:37

Definitely a nice looking tin John - and a good looking razor. I hope that in time my sharpening skills could come closer to what your's have clearly become. I know I'm becoming better, and a lot of that has to do with understanding the importance of the angle, and honing. But I'm far from true razor sharpening capability.

I know the term Boxing Day from the African colonies, but I suspect many American's don't though many do. It seems that it is known as Boxing Day in Canada as well, but not generally here. I'm not sure we even have a formal name for the 26th - it's just another day, unless as in this case, Christmas falls on a Sunday, at which time we generally have the Monday off as our paid "Christmas holiday"

Many companies here only have 10 paid holidays in addition to vacation, or "leave". The company I work for only pays 9 days along with vacation days. And while many days are common to almost everyone, Christmas, new year, Thanksgiving, Independence day etc., many others are not. For example, some companies choose Martin Luther King day as one of their 10 paid days off.

Comment by John Bamford on December 27, 2016 at 10:24

Today I have had a break from those lovely old ivory handled Sheffield razors . It didn't involve a different town as I tried the first straight razor that I ever bought , a Kropp  1920/30's somewhere around then I would have thought . Whatever the date it is a fine razor and I was lucky to get such a fine razor to start with, particularly as all I was looking for was an old razor to play around with and try my hand at sharpening . There was no reason at the time to think that I was going to start collecting razors let alone actually using one !  Those old guys sure could make a good razor , this one is very finely hollow ground . In some ways the complete opposite to those old razors that I am so fond of from the mid 1800's which are sturdy fellows indeed . The Kropp is such a fine blade that you can feel it bend in contact with your face , razors like this are noisier though , sort of hissing and vibrating as they cut through the whiskers . The sturdier old ones are silent as they move over your face which I do have a fondness for .

Yesterday being Boxing Day , do you call it that in the States ? , I tried out a rather nice shaving soap that I was gifted at Christmas . Beautiful scent and a marvellous lather as indeed it should be given the price . My everyday shave soap I buy by the kilo , being a thrifty northern type of person , I certainly couldn't afford to buy this stuff by the kilo

A very impressive tin wouldn't you say , the soap is just as good as the packaging suggests .However for those of us who like a bargain the other soap I got for Christmas was something of a bargain and almost as good a shave as it's more exclusive brethren . This was Vito's and as with Cella can be obtained in one kilo blocks , the stuff is soft enough to be able to pull pieces of to put in small containers .

That Vito's soap has a lovely smell and whereas I couldn't hope to describe the scent of the expensive soap Vito's is Almond pure and simple . The Cella in case anyone is interested smells of Almond mixed with Cherries and is close to edible .
Comment by John Bamford on November 25, 2016 at 12:33

Second shave with one of these old Sheffield razors , this time the second one I bought a Paragon . This was a revelation , I have heard people on the forums talking about how good the steel is on these older Sheffield razors . It certainly proved to be true today I had to stop shaving half way through to check that it was actually taking the whiskers off . This razor was so smooth I really couldn't feel if it was doing anything but it was !! 

White River Knives

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