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Ol' Bedraggled Gets Retired

Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:16 pm
by EL Alamein
Well, many of you know I've been using a T&H turnback as my daily brush for about a decade now. I like turnbacks because they are standard size brushes adapted for travel and if used as a mainstay brush one will never have to adjust to a brush for traveling (which many of us do for business on occasion).

My lathering technique includes mashing the bristles against the cake of soap to release it's soapy water content.

Of late, I have to concede that mashing the bristles may shorten brush life. Ol' Bedraggled has completely lost it's crown and the center is but broken bristles, sunken and scritchy while lathering. Of recent, I have noticed that this may be causing me irritation. My solution has been to move on to one of Ol' Bedraggled's successors - from one of two other turnbacks I own from T&H that I have picked up for very decent prices when they've been on sale AND an SMF discount can be applied over the years.

The successor I chose was the most recent acquisition from T&H from about five or six years ago.The other successor is actually older than Ol' Bedraggled itself by about three or four years. Ol' Bedraggled is actually the middle brush in an acquisition of three. The original turnback was acquired about fourteen or fifteen years ago, a few years before Ol' Bedraggled itself.

I chose Ol' Bedraggled to be my mainstay brush because it was the successor to the earliest turnback I purchased and therefore I could be assured that if it ever gave out I could go back to the original turnback I purchased, which was near identical except for the font of the name on the brush handle. But most importantly because, like it's predecessor, it was an excellent every day brush with the long handle I desired and soft bristles.

Well the latest turnback acquisition was different from the other two earlier ones. It's much denser, denser than even my BK4 from Kent. And it's handle is much more polished - a very shiney black finish compared to it's older cousins. Also the font and emblem was of silver, not white lettering like the older versions of turnbacks I own nor like what is seemingly offered today by T&H. The lettering and emblem of this latest acquisition washed away almost entirely with a few weeks of shaves breaking it in while Ol' Bedraggled's lettering is still as prominent and full as it was the day it was delivered, even after a decade of use.

In short this latest turnback is something special and very different from what was offered early on and seemingly today. The bristles are very soft and very dense, like my Kent, but denser. The lathering effect is very much like a Kent, pillowy as it's been described. The other turnbacks I have come close but are not quite as pillowy, as say, my Kent nor this special turnback.

What else is interesting is that this turnback's construction is slightly different from the other two. With the other two you could easily swap out the heads to the handles and they would fit perfectly. This turnback is different in that it will not fit the other two brushes' handles. It won't swap out. The collar, head and screws are bigger and won't work with the earlier iterations of this brush.

Now this brush was purchased when Rooney was still producing the High-End brushes for T&H. Now I don't mean to imply that this brush is a Rooney but it's definitely different from it's older cousins and seemingly different from what's offered today (which seems identical to the oldest T&H Turnback that I have, going by website photographs - bristles, font and all). Of course, it looks like Rooney is no more a producer of brushes.

Also, at that time, Vulfix had acquired Simpsons and Vulfix produced many of the brushes for T&H for it's lower end brushes, including the Turnback. The T&H turnback was traditionally produced by Vulfix and it was near identical to it's own Vulfix turnback except for the color of the handle and collar.

I've never owned a Simpsons brush but I wonder if at that time Vulfix didn't try to produce a hybrid Simpsons turnback for T&H under it's direction in an attempt to one-up the market on traveler brushes. This brush is superior to the old T&H/Vulfix turnback, which was superior to the Simpsons Major turnback IMHO.

What I have may be a White Elephant, a short-term experimental production. But I very much enjoy it's lathering properties and will be doing everything I can to preserve it for as long as I can - painting strokes only (following Buzz's advice) and no bristle mashing. I've adapted my lathering technique to accommodate this.

I mention this because there may be a few white elephants left out there. And if you're a traveler brush preferer and you see them then pick them up, they are excellent. Though they may no longer be produced I wish T&H would commission them again as they are the pinnacle of every-day standard knot brushes as well as one of the most luxurious travel brushes ever produced IMHO. Plus, I wouldn't mind picking up another to keep me going until the end of my days.


Re: Ol' Bedraggled Gets Retired

Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:49 am
by fallingwickets
today I really miss the 'historians' being active on the boards.

Wishing you many more days of good lathering.

My first brush which I had been using for about 15 years suffered the same fate as your Ol' Bedraggled; lost crown and all. It was in looking for a replacement that i found all you bastards LOL


Re: Ol' Bedraggled Gets Retired

Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:31 pm
by EL Alamein
fallingwickets wrote:today I really miss the 'historians' being active on the boards.

Wishing you many more days of good lathering.

My first brush which I had been using for about 15 years suffered the same fate as your Ol' Bedraggled; lost crown and all. It was in looking for a replacement that i found all you bastards LOL

Clive, yeah, I miss Gordon too.

Thank you so much for the well wishes on the brush. I hope this one lasts the rest of my life because I'm reasonably sure it won't be made again in my lifetime.

You found us because you were supposed to. :)

My Best,

Re: Ol' Bedraggled Gets Retired

Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:22 pm
by EL Alamein
As an aside, I might be using the term "White Elephant" incorrectly.

Moderators please move this response if it's not in the right place because it has little to do with shaving.

When I was a kid I was introduced to the term "White Elephant" by a psuedo-Uncle, my mother's first husband's brother who was just an Uncle to me because we didn't believe in anyone being a step-uncle or a step-brother or sister.

The phrase was used to describe the phone we had in the kitchen all my life at that point. It was called a "Flat Wall Phone" by AT&T by my Uncle who was my mother's first husband's brother - but just an Uncle to me.

That phone was completely flat to the wall of the kitchen with a hanger for the receiver that had a retractable cord into the wall (very expensive to replace because it never really caught on, but had to be replaced every so often because of it's constantly being retracted) and push button dialers. Very modern for it's time. There are movies from the time-period of the late 1960's and early 1970's that have these phones prominently displayed as an example. Can't think of one now but if you saw one you'd instantly recognize one if you're not already familiar. They are very different from the wall phones of the time period.

I still remember, as a young lad, calling my older sister (fourteen years older) on that phone, who lived in California at that time with her husband, when Ronald Reagan was elected president and asking her if she thought he would be a good president since he had been the governor of California. Politics aside, she thought he would be a good president. The rest is history.

When my mother and father began their divorce in the early 1980's she got rid of this "white elephant" because of the expense in keeping it maintained. I still remember the AT&T technician showing up to remove that phone and declaring with glee that it would be well cared for because he was a collector of vintage phones and would take it into his collection to be preserved and appreciated.

To help with context my mother and her first husband were AT&T employees in their early years and acquired these types of things through their affiliation with AT&T. The Uncle, who was my mother's first husband's brother, also worked for AT&T all his life.

In short, a "white elephant" like the brush I've described, may be something that is produced short term, at an expense, by a company in the hopes that it will be a long term product but in the end never really caught on.


Re: Ol' Bedraggled Gets Retired

Posted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:51 am
by brothers
Chris, that makes sense to me. Owning something that nobody else seems to want. I recall the days when working for The Phone Company was a very respectable and secure lifetime career vocation, with good benefits and retirement. As an aside, there is an enormous building in our city that was AT&T for many years.

Coincidentally, Ronald Reagan made a campaign stop here during his re-election campaign, and the location of the campaign speech was the beautiful campus grounds in front of the AT&T building. Lots of parking and lots of room. :)

To have actually worn out your favorite old brush is something to be proud of. Good thing you had the foresight to get a suitable replacement. I wish you many more happy decades of use from the replacement.