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Learning from a box ...

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Learning from a box ...

Postby jar » Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:13 am

As some of you may know I've been rummaging through storage boxes lately. While looking for the pipes (smoking kind) I know I own but that were not exactly where I know I put them I did find a box full of old razors and other stuff. I've been restoring the old razors and trying to work them into the rotation though it will take some time, but the content and condition of the stuff in the box really says a lot about the thinking of my parents and grandparents that put this stuff away.

There was a small box filled with black and brown shoelaces but only one lace of any given size. It's likely a shoe lace broke and so they bought new ones but only changed the broken one, putting the other away for future use.

There were razors, some obviously well used but others seemingly unused. One was a Version 2 Valet Autostrop still with the cardboard fake blade in place that had instructions on it and a still supple leather strop designed for the razor to sharpen blades and extend the life and an unopened box of blades for the razor. There was also a really well used Version 1 Valet Autostrop but without the strop. There were three Rolls Razors, one well used (with a blood stain on the blade even) but two looking near new.

There were tins, almost empty but not quite; shoe polish, lanolin and neatsfoot oil. They were stored away it seems rather then thrown away simply because they were just not empty.

There were three pre-WWII Gillette Tech razors, all looking well used and showing only the merest hint that at one time they had been gold plated.

There was a very early version of the Gem Damaskeene in it's original box with the stamped metal blade box as well.

The box was a sharp reminder that my parents and grandparents were definitely from a non-disposable society. If a shoelace was not broken you did not replace it. If you had not used all the shoe polish or lanolin or neatsfoot oil you did not throw the tin away. If you stopped using something you did not get rid of it, you stored it away. Several of the razors are now pushing a century old yet all cleaned up well. Even the newest of them is over a half century old and still work as well as when they were new.

Actually, there was less "restoration" needed than with fountain pens of the same era. Yes, the stamped metal blade box was pitted and oxidized. Yes, some of the boxes themselves show wear and fabric decay. Yes, the directions and ads in with the razors had turned brown and the paper beginning to get brittle, but for the most part, everything still worked.

Restoration has amounted to mostly cleaning and sanitizing, putting the metal pieces through an ultrasound bath and some scrubbing bubbles. Brasso on the brass parts (and there was lots of brass). Toothbrush to get into tight spaces. But all are coming along. There are still a few more to go but it's been a wonderful journey.

On the multiple exotic razors the reasoning might have been quite different. My family ran an Insurance Agency that went back to before the US Civil War. Among the clients were several barbershops, jewelers, industrial supply companies and such. Often dad or Gpop came home with a sample product they had been given by a client. Some got used, particularly if they had been asked to give it a try, some simply got put away.

My Great Aunt though had polio as a child and one lag was shorter than the other and crooked. She had to wear special custom made shoes and still needed to use a cane. Yet she rose to head an Actuary Department in one of the major national Insurance Companies with both men and women working under her, something almost unheard of at the time.

Aunt Jean did have one brand new pair of those shoes she never wore; they sat on a shelf in the closet to be worn only at the funeral when she died.

But again, the box was a glimpse into an entirely different mentality and era.

Stay tuned. Pictures to follow.
Last edited by jar on Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Learning from a box ...

Postby CMur12 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:02 am

Wow, what a treasure trove of family history! It's amazing that it all came down to you, through several generations, intact.

I look forward to seeing the photos.

- Murray
Give me Soap or give me death!
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Re: Learning from a box ...

Postby ShadowsDad » Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:45 pm

Thanx for the excellent story!
Brian

Maker of Kramperts Finest Bay Rum and Frostbite http://www.krampertsfinest.com/
Or find it here: Italian Barber, West Coast Shaving, Barclay Crocker, The Old Town Shaving Company at Stats, Maggard Razors; Leavitt & Peirce, Harvard Square
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Re: Learning from a box ...

Postby brothers » Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:26 pm

Thanks for sharing this with us. I enjoyed reading it.
Gary
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Re: Learning from a box ...

Postby jar » Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:10 pm

And here is what was in the box:

Three pre-war fat handle Gillette Techs, two Rolls Razor Imperials, one Rolls Viscount, two Valet Autostrops (one V1 & 1 V2 that appears never used) and a Gem Damaskeene.

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Re: Learning from a box ...

Postby jww » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:30 am

Drool
Wendell

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Re: Learning from a box ...

Postby brothers » Wed Jun 21, 2017 5:22 pm

I like those 3 fat handle Tech razors. I think those would polish up beautifully.
Gary
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Re: Learning from a box ...

Postby mlb549 » Thu Jun 22, 2017 5:05 am

A wonderful family story and some great shaving treasures!
Mike
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Re: Learning from a box ...

Postby jar » Thu Jun 22, 2017 5:51 am

The Techs cleaned up nicely and perform just about the same as my post-war Techs.

BUT...the GEM was a real revelation for me.

I'd tried razors like the Schick injector (ok but not really close to great) but the GEM was intuitive and the very first use gave me one of the most pleasant shaves I've had in well over a half century. There are still some technique issues like how to work under my big nose but I can see this razor (made in 1919) entering my regular rotation. I enjoyed it enough to buy the slightly later EverReady version.

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Re: Learning from a box ...

Postby brothers » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:10 pm

The old SE razors are well made and plentiful. One can't go wrong using one of those, and the stainless blades are easy to find.
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