Fine Vintage

Today I got a package in the mail, that I’ve rally been looking forward to. In the package were two very old razors that I bought at the Swedish auction site “Tradera»

One knife is probably from the mid to late 1700s, and the other probably from the early 1800’s. I’ve decided to shift the focus of my collection from the purely aesthetic (to collect the “nice” blades and razors), to now take a “chronological” approach and collect good examples of the stages in the razor’s development. These two straight razors are great examples of early styles.

The first straight razor, as we know them today, where produced in the early/mid 1700’s in Sheffield England. The technique of casting steel into smaller crucibles were invented in ca. 1740 by Benjamin Huntsman. The first straight razors had handles of wood or other natural material. The shape of the shaft was straight, and the blade was wider at the edge of the tip (toe) and narrowed towards the shaft (no shoulder). The first razor blades did not have a tang/”monkey tail” and the blades had only a wedge-shape.

Gradually the blades became hollow-ground and the little “tail” on the end of the blade was gradually introduced during the late 1700–early 1800s, ang got a more distinct curve in the 1800/1900s. After plastic materials was invented, handles made from both celuloid and bakelite and other plastic varieties became popular. But until plastic was invented, only natural materials where used. First wood, but since wood did not handle close encounters with water and soap well, both horn, bone, tortoise shell and other natural materials where used. The knives I got today, have wood-handles.

The steel in these knives were a little corroded, so I took a careful round using rust remover and sandpaper. I do not want to polish old knives too much.  I think old knives should retain much of the “patina” it has developed over the years. Here are some before-and-after pictures. The “youngest” blade has the words “Concave Razor” stamped in to it.

Finally I also decided to sharpen them, and they became razor sharp after a few rounds on the Coticule. They really knew how to make quality knife steel in the old days 🙂


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