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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 November 22, 2016 at 6:39

A transatlantic shave this morning !

Also the first shave anyone has had with this John and William Ragg razor since it was made in around 1860 . I couldn't help wondering what the man who made this would have though if he had known that the first use would be in 2016 .  Course it is too late to tell him now as he would be 160 and if he is still alive is likely a touch deaf .

I took my little American razor with me to touch up some of the trickier bits around the chin etc.  The Clauss feels so tiny after using the Ragg for a while , so I thought I would take a picture to emphasise the difference . Course when you see the photo you can see no difference , it is all in the feel  !!

Anyway my thanks to whoever made this razor in Sheffield all those years ago , and at least I have used it before the next one arrives in the next day or two .

Comment by John Bamford on November 14, 2016 at 12:51

I do feel sorry for my hirsute friends , the poor fellows will never know the joy of applying a fabulous smelling lather from a wonderful soft badger brush . Nor will they ever feel the joy of using a vintage French razor that they have honed to as near perfection as makes no difference and then gliding it over their face to make a wonderful start to the day .  Then a little astringent sting from an alum block , then the soothing embrace of an aftershave lotion .  The best they can hope for is a cup of coffee .....a cup of coffee ,  not quite the same !!!

Of course as in most area's of life there can be one or two problems . Mostly the time , effort and expense of stones for honing the razors , the odd strop or two and a constant itch to check on eBay !

There is a lesser known stumbling block which seems to sneak up on a chap when he embarks on the wet shaving business . It comes down to a battle for space in the bathroom , my shaving kit used to be a throw away razor and little else . Not now alas , I have recently been ejected from Sue's area of the bathroom as she says I now have more "stuff" than she has .  I have had to get this to keep my shaving stuff on and it has almost filled up already , there is one or two items on there way as well !!


Comment by John Bamford on September 30, 2016 at 10:51

I sharpened that French frameback razor this week a lovely shave , I may want to get another one or two of those .  The guys on the forums say these razors "aren't for the novice" after using this one twice I don't know why . It seems pretty much like my other razors to use . A lovely smooth shave , as is the case with all of my vintage razors , the only one that has disappointed me has been the brand new Dovo that I bought , I want to like it but am unable to do so . It seems to be sharp enough , maybe the modern steel is just not as forgiving to sharpen .... that means I don't know what the problem is !!

Comment by D ale on September 9, 2016 at 20:50

The frameback is unique .. I don't believe I have one like that.

I think, John .. you are starting a collection


Comment by Jan Carter on September 9, 2016 at 19:33


I can't wait to see the new one, a frame lock razor sounds interesting.  I am so happy that this new passion is working out well for you.  A new sharpening technique, a new shaving ritual...oh the possibilities 

Comment by John Bamford on September 8, 2016 at 11:22

I have been using that Modoso for the last two days and it is a superb shaver , the firm that used to make them Dorko , were renown for their quality and the edge on this must be up to their best . It does give me an inordinate amount of pleasure picking a razor out of the box , which is the box my good friend Dale sent me a present in , knowing that they are all sharp and all with their own characteristics . You could of course manage with just the one razor , I was going to say  "just as you could manage with one knife" but of course most of us couldn't manage with just the one knife as there are too many different jobs that a knife is called on to do . So yes I could manage with the one razor and the first one that I bought a Kropp would do the job just fine , but there are so many razors for sale and at a reasonable price too .

You could say , of course , that this is a long drawn out way of saying that I have bought another one . Well it is another French razor as I am still in full on Gallic mode , though there are a few nice ones on eBay in the States that I am looking at though the postage and duty make it less appealing . 

Another excuse , reason , for my weakness is that this razor is a "frameback" and I don't have one , well I do now or will have very soon .

Comment by Jan Carter on August 28, 2016 at 13:54


I also am a sucker for the boxes but that is so much more!  What a wonderful example of what was needed in a travel kit.  Down to a small strop you could pack this up and go anywhere being perfectly groomed

Comment by John Bamford on August 28, 2016 at 8:17

I felt that today I should give the Modoso a more extensive test and see if my sharpening is up to the supposed quality of this make . Modoso are , or were , made by Dorko and on the web you can see some wonderful examples of both makes . Usually they seem to have extensive decoration on the blades and some rather nice gold wash as well as rather attractive scales . The one I bought had maybe been one of their less expensive models and it just had MoDoSo in gold on the blade , alas corrosion made it very difficult to save the gold and so I reluctantly took the decision to remove the gold along with the rust . It also came with Faux Tortoiseshell handle scales that looked okay on the pics but on closer inspection were hardly worth saving . All in all I was a little underwhelmed with the razor even though they do have a good reputation . I put standard Dovo scales on it cleaned it up , sharpened it and as I mentioned had a brief go with it yesterday .

Today I really wanted to use the Manufrance again but felt that I should use the Modoso and I must say that it was very impressive . I feel I must stress that I am still at the beginner stage at both sharpening and shaving but that razor really surprised me in the way it responded to my fumbling's . Once I felt that I had the angle correct the whiskers came off with such ease it really was a revelation . I think it is a very finely ground blade and seemed to benefit from a very shallow angle to the skin , and then it was sharp indeed . 

The angle of the razor to the skin is one of the many factors to get right for us beginners and I tend to experiment with different razors though I don't know enough at present to say any more about that .

The poor little modoso with only plain scales and no decoration performed very very well I was really impressed and may get to love it after all ! 

Comment by John Bamford on August 27, 2016 at 11:55

Oh yes of course the French razor is the rather curvy one on the right .

Comment by John Bamford on August 27, 2016 at 11:53

I think that it could be a distinct lack of sleep It could have been the alcohol except for the fact that I haven't had any alcohol for sometime now , well whatever it is I feel in a strange mood . Someone was arguing in the street outside my bedroom window at very early o'clock this morning before I could open the window and hurl curses at them they had gone and I had woken up . I have always found it strange that an otherwise comfortable bed that I am often reluctant to leave can transform into a slab of stone with iron pillows merely by the simple act of trying too hard to go back to sleep !!

At 5.30 there was nothing for it other than to get up drink tea and go out into a lovely warm , well warm for here, morning and sharpen the latest razors . 

Here they are a MoDoSo , not sure why it is spelled like that , and a ManuFrance and I have been wanting to try them all week . The Modoso came with damaged scales so I needed to fix that and I have managed to be too busy this week to get that done and do the sharpening .

Similar razors to the others you say , hah ! it's a poor parent that thinks his beloved children all look the same . Though to be honest my Mother , God Bless Her, did used to call me Rodger , Susan ,John . I never did know if this was done to save her having to remember who she was calling or as a scattergun approach so as to be sure that someone , anyone,  came when she called .

Well the sharpening seemed to go okay and hair came off my leg very readily , the left arm went bald a while ago so I am onto legs at present  . They both shaved well also I had to try them both though I was in the mood for the French fellow ,or Madame as it is such a good looker . It isn't such a fully hollowed razor for want of a more clumsy phrase as the Modoso or indeed most of my other razors . They do , or did , come in a bewildering variety of grinds though I doubt that most of the examples below are available now 

I can't tell from the image which grind the ManuFrance is but it is a rather thicker grind than I am accustomed to . As you will know I am very much a beginner at this and have only been straight razor shaving for a few months and I did read that beginners get on better with a less than full hollow grind. I don't know if this is true because I have fully hollow ground blades and like them fine , but this thicker one is very nice indeed .

Shaving with a thicker ground razor seems so quiet apart from anything else , the really thin one's vibrate and hiss quite a bit whereas this fuller figured French beauty glides silently . I was so taken with it that I gave up trying to compare the two newly sharpened razors and just enjoyed the Manufrance . I suppose that I should now buy some French shaving soap to go with it though with the amount of comments that followed buying a mere kilo of Italian soap perhaps it would be better left a while .

As I was in a French mood I wandered over to Project Gutenberg and downloaded ,  Swann's Way by Marcel Proust . Whether it will get read is another thing but at least I now have the book and it is out of sight so I won't feel guilty if it is forgotten !!

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