Rooney brushes

What kind of shaving brush do you use? Tell us all about it!
bernards66
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Post by bernards66 »

Bruno, The operation is small even though he absorbed at least two even smaller, lesser known, brush making firms when he reactivated the Rooney operation. He did this to get the skilled labor ( who are almost all women, BTW ). I have no reason to believe that the work room is not still in the East End of London, and neither does anyone else, other than the fact that it is not easy to contact them, which it never was, even when Priscella Rooney was still at the helm. If you don't believe me, just ask Charles at QED ( chuckle ).
Regards,
Gordon
Last edited by bernards66 on Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Squire
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Post by Squire »

You're not being contrary Jim, quite the opposite and I appreciate your candor. Just like any other hobby board we members like to know details but that doesn't mean we are entitled to them.

In the fly fishing world we have makers of fine bamboo rods who don't have a website, rarely return emails, don't disclose any details about how they accomplish their practical works of art and often have back orders of two years or more.

In a direct comparison my Rooneys rank with any other shaving brush made and other than intellectual curiosity I'm unconcerned with how Mr. Sabrini accomplishes this.
Regards,
Squire
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Fido
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Post by Fido »

Can I take followers of this thread back to my original post.

I write a shaving blog. I do it as a personal record of my shaving hobby. If anyone finds anything of interest, that's fine by me.
I have several blogs about bells. That generates a lot of interest around the world. I have visited and written about world famous bell foundries. I have met the owners, toured the foundries and the owners have been proud to show me their manufacturing operation. Whitechapel and Taylors in the UK have some 700 years of history between them.
Anyone taking an interest in shaving soon comes across the big names: The 3Ts, Simpsons, Rooney, Kent..............
I thought it might be a good idea to give each of these long established companies a visit and write something about them on my blog. I have had an open and warm reception in all my contacts with the historic big players, and I am planning several visits.

In my attempts to find out anything about Rooney I have drawn a blank. Except what you all read here.
I am not trying to cause trouble to, or offend anyone. I am merely trying to undertake the research any writer does before publishing anything about an issue. To ensure it is accurate.

When I first heard about Rooney brushes, the enthusiasm for them and that it was a long established operation it was a natural target for my interest.
So that's all that this is about.

Personally. I like to do business with a company that cares about me as a customer. That deals with suppliers that respond promptly to questions and meets all reasonable demands for information.

As a potential purchaser of a product I do like to know where it is made. It may be silly and unjustified but there are some items that I buy that I hope are still made in England. A shaving brush is one of them.

It is extraordinary that a thread like this is possible. I'm asking a simple question.

I'm not trying to infiltrate the Pentagon!
bernards66
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Post by bernards66 »

Fido, I will be interested to read about your visit to the Kent brush works if that comes to pass. I don't know if Rooney will be doable. If I find out anything useable regarding contacting them I will let you know. While your request may seem reasonable enough, I know that some specialty makers of various things do not always respond in the manner that the bell foundries apparently did.
Regards,
Gordon
Last edited by bernards66 on Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Squire
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Post by Squire »

fido, "target for my interest"? That says it all. I have been on the receiving end of that attitude. It occurs to me yours is not a hobbyists interest rather you are a writer looking for a story.

Over the course of my legal career I have been interviewed by print and broadcast media over high profile cases in which I was involved. Nothing of a criminal nature, rather legal fights between State and or local governmental entities that was newsworthy.

The television people filmed me extensively and omitted every question I answered and only showed the three times I said, "I cannot comment on that" thus clearly implying I was attempting to conceal something. The story had already been decided on and I was portrayed as aiding their 'target of Interest'.

Same thing with the newspapers though worse. They selectively edited my comments and wrote a story which was the opposite of what I said. The last time a newspaper called I said, "Go to Hell and you may quote me".

Perhaps Mr. Sabrini has better things to do than be a 'target of interest' for an enterprising blogger who is looking for a story. You have already written close to two negative pages without any facts to go on and if you called me I wouldn't give you the time of day.
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Squire
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Fido
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Post by Fido »

Squire - you read too much into the phrase you quote.

I know that Rooney is a world famous name that has made brushes that have delighted shavers for generations. And still does.

If I am setting out to write a simple story about UK brush makers it would be ridiculous to leave out Rooney.

I'm just a blogger, like millions. I'm not a journalist after a story I'm going to get paid for. I just happened to have stumbled across a rather odd situation. And don't you sometimes find that you become curious about something and want to find out all you can? That's where I'm at.
bernards66
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Post by bernards66 »

Fido, Well, I hear you, but trust me, Rooney has always been very difficult. Shoot, up until the early 2000s, any communication one was lucky enough to get was hand written....I'm serious. And up until quite recently, Plisson wasn't much easier.
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Gordon
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Squire
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Post by Squire »

Your words fido.
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Squire
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Ambrosia
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Post by Ambrosia »

I dont know about legal cases and getting your message out in those circumstances, however I do know about businesses and the importance of PR, Rooney if it wants to compete should not shun publicity, Fido is trying to do a blog it may not be the biggest PR opportunity ever, but these things build up and to participate in Fido’s brush review will do more good than harm

Reading between the lines I’m guessing Rooney is run more as a hobby than a company. I know that Simpson before they were brought only had one person working in their factory and assuming Rooney sales are much smaller than Simpsons which they obviously are, its easy to imagine Rooney consists of one guy, working one afternoon a week in his shed.
There simply is not the volume to warrant overseas production so the brushes are almost certainly made in the UK
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Fido
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Post by Fido »

Rooney traditionally made a lot more than shaving brushes - the scale of their operation these days is not publicised. You may be right that it is very low key.

Progress Vulfix employ 15 people. Kent Brushes - 28. They were both happy to tell me that.

I must check out flights to the Isle of Man - A good excuse for a short holiday when the weather improves. I can get to Kent Brushes quite easily. I love their BK8 by the way.
Ecosse
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Post by Ecosse »

When I sit and think about it, I always think members of these forums would be shocked at how little the brush production is in the industry (that's my guess) so I suppose its understandable that there isn't really a big marketing effort put in by manufacturers.
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Post by kevtex »

I suppose a lot of people feel a sense of entitlement. Whether it be possessions or in this case information. Rooney has the right keep information about their small company private. I think Rooney's stance on keeping things 'tight lipped' is quite honorable in these days.

When I've read about individuals having issues with a Rooney brush purchased from Vintage Blades or Classic Shaving. They almost always report back that they have a new brush heading their way to replace the old one. So why would anyone have a problem purchasing a Rooney, when it comes with such great customer service from one of the mentioned vendors?
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Post by VintageBlades »

A couple of points.....

Rooney, to this point has not elected to have a web presence as a business decision, pure and simple. As to the reason, it is not for me to explain, other than they are a manufacturer and prefer to act like one. Personally, I wish more manufacturers operated the way they do. One of the things I despise the most is when a "manufacturer" decides to act like a retailer. In the past, I have severed ties with a few that have followed that path.

As to the motives of the individuals making this a quest and what they are trying to do for Rooney, I think Rooney would pass. (I do wish these individuals would stop sending me PM's on the various forums by the way under several different user names.) Rooney and their retail outlets are doing just fine without their help, thank you.

As to Rooney's desire to stay UTR, that is Mr. Sabini's decision. Of course I have the ability to disclose all this information publicly, but I most certainly will not without his permission. His is not a public company, it is a private company, and he is under no requirement to disclose anything.

As to the availability of Rooney brushes, in addition to my shop and Classic Shaving, R.A. Rooney supplies shaving brushes under contract using their brand name to some of the most respected houses in the world. These include the "Three T's" just to name a few.

So, I have said all I am going to say on this subject.
Jim
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http://vintagebladesllc.com/
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Fido
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Post by Fido »

Thank you for taking the trouble to explain that.

As long as the business operates in such a secretive manner I for one, will not be buying a Rooney brush. Not that it will affect anyone but me.

And I will not be troubling Vintage Blades with any more requests for information.
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Post by Chap »

bernards66 wrote:Gary, I do not know why, specifically, they chose not to, but I know that they are not the only specialty firm that that is true of. The reknowned Budd shirtmakers and haberdashers in Piccadilly Arcade do not, nor did Maitland Chemists. Maxwell bespoke bootmakers also do not, and there are others, including Simpsons per se.
Regards,
Gordon
Budd are still in the dark ages, but Maxwell have been subsumed into James Foster and Son, who have a rather good website. For the interested, on my last passage through St James, Maitland's now appears to be a Santa Maria Novella retailer, I have not gone inside.
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Post by brz90 »

VintageBlades wrote:A couple of points.....

As to the motives of the individuals making this a quest and what they are trying to do for Rooney, I think Rooney would pass. (I do wish these individuals would stop sending me PM's on the various forums by the way under several different user names.) Rooney and their retail outlets are doing just fine without their help, thank you.
So... as someone who is not one of these individuals I've read this thread as an interested party because I am in the market for a new shaving brush and Rooney are one of the two contenders.

Given that Rooney have downsized and are not what they once were and that as the City of London Brushworks they operated above the radar and with some pride in what they were doing and that their heritage and history is promoted on the retail sites, given that, they have at least two routes to continued shaving brush manufacture.

First route, they retain a small scale workshop hand producing knots and handles from scratch (albeit with Chinese badger hair). If so this would be a marketing plus. I for one would support this kind of production out of principle.

Second route, they could outsource knot and handle production and simply glue the two components together. This way the shaving brush would still be 'Made in England.' I would still buy a brush made this way depending on how it was outsourced. However it could be outsourced in a way which I would definitely not want to support and that's why I also would like to know and why I am inclined to purchase the alternative brush I have been considering in the absence of information.

So why is it so unreasonable to ask for this information?

When I buy something more and more often these ethical considerations are important to me and many other people too. Just so you know :)
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Post by Aztecface »

Fido, so you choose not to purchase a brush on the basis that all information about the company that manufactures it is not disclosed? If the said brush was faulty it would be replaced by the company that sold it to you without a blink.

Do you also not choose to fly on an airplane if the technical manuals and schematics are not available to you? Do you also choose not to acquire the service of a physician if his files are not available to you?

Aside from the 'Mayfair' district, Rooney brushes are not widely available here across the pond. There is one place in Britain that sells them online but as they never answer any emails or pick up their phone I find them to be unreliable. Both vendors in America are very reliable and have always answered my emails and calls. I have one Rooney from one of them and I feel comfortable knowing that if any problems should occur, they will rectify them. I also have a hairbrush by Rooney I purchased from Taylor's almost 3 years ago.
Regards,
Jani
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Fido
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Post by Fido »

I'm just another simple person who can do what he likes, say what he likes and buy what he likes. And I decide on the basis of things that are important to me having regard to the particular circumstances.
bernards66
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Post by bernards66 »

Chap, Well, I guess Rooney chooses to remain in the 'dark ages' also....as they always have, and I'm aware of Foster's webpage but there is nothing about the Maxwell niche of their operation that I'm aware of, and Maxwell never had a website before they became part of Fosters. Maitlands recently closed and that Santa Maria Novella shop has nothing to do with them. Aqua di Parma, when they were still independent had no website, and there are a number of others. And then there are firms that have a PR website but you can't buy anything through them. While it's become less common for speciality firms to go this route, it is still not that unheard of.
Regards,
Gordon
bernards66
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Post by bernards66 »

Ambrosia, Well, that's not too far off, although it's not quite that extreme, and your parallel to the situation with David Carter of Simpsons is pretty spot on as well. Mr. Sabini certainly does have other business interests; if he hadn't he wouldn't have been able to take over the Rooney situation...which was not in good shape when he did. But everything that I've heard over the years suggests that he is a true aficionado of old school British goods and his deal with Rooney is as much a labour of love as it is any sort of significent money making enterprise. And he is personally capable of making a brush himself, by hand, from scratch, and has on occasion. But he does employ at least a few brush makers, some of whom he personally trained. Anyone is, of course, free to buy or not buy whatever they choose, but Rooney are English made brushes I am quite certain.
Regards,
Gordon
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