A Tale of Two Blades

Let's talk about single and double edged razors and the blades that they use.
gsgo
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A Tale of Two Blades

Post by gsgo »

My little experiment has come about with the good fortune of finding a pak of 1970's UK Wilkinson Sword blades on my recent return home for the holidays. These blades were sent to my brother and I as part of a shaving kit that we received as a gift from relatives in Scotland sometime in the early to mid 70's.

Since finding these a week ago or so, I have been eagerly awaiting the chance to do a side by side comparison with the Wilkinson Classic from Germany that I shave with on a regular basis. I have also been quite curious as to the differences these blades might have and to see whether modern blades can compare. Much has been said about "blades of the past" and many search long and hard for NOS favorites that are no longer in production.

Today I shaved with a freshly unwrapped UK Wilkinson Sword, the blade looks perfectly fine with close examination and without a microscope for a closer comparison I cannot determine if the blade is compromised in any way, only my face will let me know.

Loaded into my trusty 1904 and using some prefered products I embarked on the first shave of my test. No doubt this is a sharp blade, that felt a bit bright as I made my first strokes, with no evident issues I continued my shave. The blade definitely worked as well as could be expected and I needed to pay attention as the results of it's keen edge could be felt. It has a slightly lighter and sharper feel than the German, and was effective on my WTG and XTG passes but struggled a little with my ATG strokes to clean my neck and jaw line. These are usual trouble spots with a mix of dark and gray hairs. My first overall results were quite acceptable with a close shave but the razors sharpness was revealed with a quick swipe of the alum block indicating a few areas of closer than normal shaving.

Sharp but not as smooth as I expected, I will use the UK Wilk for two more shaves before switching over to the German Wilk.

Hope you keep reading!
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Last edited by gsgo on Thu Jan 07, 2010 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Good shaving,

Gary
ek.310

Post by ek.310 »

Try Palm Stropping yer blades!..I get 4 full shaves then I get a new blade..YMMV

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ogq4wfpT7hc
bernards66
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Post by bernards66 »

Gary, Did you get the full card with those blades, or only the container? If they are really from the mid-1970s then I would assume they are the 'Light Brgade' blades. If they are appreciably earlier than they might not be. Wilkinson's original stainless DE blades were quite good, but the next generation, the 'Light Brigades', were even better. They are, indeed, very sharp, and for me, much smoother than the current German made version ( keeping in mind that overall, I prefer really sharp blades...ala BeatlesFan's recent post in the Iridium thread ). And they last longer, easily a full week for me. To be honest, I can't even use those German jobs, and have a whole bunch of packs sitting in a box somewhere in my closet.
Regards,
Gordon
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Pauldog
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Post by Pauldog »

I don't know if anyone else has reported using vintage Wilkinsons in a 1904 razor. There should be some razors that work particularly well with this blade.
gsgo
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Post by gsgo »

bernards66 wrote:Gary, Did you get the full card with those blades, or only the container? If they are really from the mid-1970s then I would assume they are the 'Light Brgade' blades. If they are appreciably earlier than they might not be. Wilkinson's original stainless DE blades were quite good, but the next generation, the 'Light Brigades', were even better. They are, indeed, very sharp, and for me, much smoother than the current German made version ( keeping in mind that overall, I prefer really sharp blades...ala BeatlesFan's recent post in the Iridium thread ). And they last longer, easily a full week for me. To be honest, I can't even use those German jobs, and have a whole bunch of packs sitting in a box somewhere in my closet.
Regards,
Gordon
Gordon,

Unfortunately the card was not present when I found the pack but to the best of my recollection the card in the pack was just the standard Wilkinson. So there might be no telling exactly what blade that I have. Also managed to find a Gillette Thin from the same time. My shave yesterday lasted on par with my average shaves, looking forward to taking another few passes this morning.

Cheers!
Good shaving,

Gary
gsgo
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Post by gsgo »

Pauldog wrote:I don't know if anyone else has reported using vintage Wilkinsons in a 1904 razor. There should be some razors that work particularly well with this blade.
Just to clarify it was my Merkur 1904 of a very "recent vintage" - love that nickel finish, just a beauty!
Good shaving,

Gary
gsgo
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Post by gsgo »

70's UK Wilkinson Second Shave

Well it's still quite sharp but has slightly softened it's edge a little which may have been aided by a terrific lather from the shaving cream. Paying close attention I was able to get a very good shave that was close and comfortable. I am curious to know what sort of coatings they may have used back then and how it would affect the comparison.

With proper technique and a strong lather I think the sharper blades might actually be easier on sensitive skin as they cut so much more efficiently. Sensitive skin shavers may have to work to hard with a milder blade to get their preferred results. I am always in the camp of "less is more" and prefer using minimal effort to better results when shaving.
Good shaving,

Gary
brz90
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Post by brz90 »

I've got quite a few old blades among them some Wilkinsons. I find they behave differently to modern blades not least in their longevity. So I have to be careful for the first couple of shaves because they're so sharp but then I get a week or more of smooth close easy shaves before they gradually deteriorate in sharpness more than smoothness so they never usually start to bite but the shaves just don't get so close.
I think the coating on the old Wilkinsons was ptfe and it's still the same, but it's how they made the blades that was different: better machinery, finer tolerances, higher levels of quality control, etc. Also they used a unique specially manufactured high grade of stainless steel in the old days, which they've surely stopped doing now.
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Racso_MS
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Post by Racso_MS »

I bought a "Brick" of New Old Stock (UK Manufactured) Wilkinsons a year or so ago. One of the best blades (In my humble opionion) ever made.

They work great for me in a non Merkur Razor. I find that Merkur Blades work best for me in Merkur Razors. Other blades work better in non Merkur razors and the NOS Wilkinsons just can't be beat. I'm actually using them very sparingly to hold on to them as long as I can.
Best Regards From the Deep South...
Remember; It's Not A Race, It's Your Face...
And As Always, Enjoy Your Shave...
(Racso) Oscar...
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Squire
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Post by Squire »

gsgo, the Light Brigade Wilkinsons are exceptional blades, as good as any. The German versions are just average.
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Squire
bernards66
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Post by bernards66 »

Racso, Well, that was my rap in the very early days of the first shave forums; Merkurs work in Merkur razors but for Gillettes you want the Wilkinsons. But even those blades, the ones you have, are the down-graded version compared to what they were offering in the '70s and '80s. Again, during that period, these companies were making the very best that they were capable of making and expense was not spared because they were still in a fierce competition with each other for that big DE market.
Regards,
Gordon
gsgo
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Post by gsgo »

70's Wilkinson Third Shave

Still plenty sharp after three shaves and still bright and lively. Despite a dense and slippery lather this morning I could feel the keenness of the blade especially on my jaw line and under my chin. I would think this blade could easily go a few more shaves and I will put it aside for a visit in the near future. Backing off a little due to the sharpness I had to work a little harder to clear a couple of patches but this is of no surprise and is a usual part of my shave routine. I did not find the smoothness that I expected with this very capable blade, but that did not prevent getting three fairly good and clean shaves.

Tomorrow the German Wilkinson Classic.
Good shaving,

Gary
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Squire
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Post by Squire »

Gary after the testing I would like to know how they compare for you when used in a different razor.
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Squire
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Straight Arrow
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Post by Straight Arrow »

Gary, just for the record, I don't think the blade you are using is the Light Brigade blade. The LB blade is stamped "Chromium Edge" rather than "Super Sword Edge". That is not to say that the Super Sword Edge isn't every bit as good as the LB Chromium Edge. I have both types and I am pretty near equally fond of each. Honestly I don't know if the Super Sword Edge came before or after the LB. Maybe one of our more knowledgeable members will speak to that.

Good luck with your comparison test. I am looking forward to reading more of your findings.
Rich
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Post by bernards66 »

Rich, I think, before, but I wouldn't bet a lot of money on it. In fact, they may have used that terminology both before AND after they offered the 'chromium edge' LBs.
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Gordon
gsgo
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Post by gsgo »

Squire wrote:Gary after the testing I would like to know how they compare for you when used in a different razor.
Can be done, I will give them a whirl with my HD which is the only other razor that I have.
Good shaving,

Gary
gsgo
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Post by gsgo »

First Shave German Wilkinson Classic

Well...it took me a while to figure out what I was going to say about this shave. But as far as I am concerned after just one shave I have a knockout winner and undisputed champ....the German Wilkinson Classic!

My shave this morning was really that good...superior in all ways over the 70's UK Wilkinson. I have been debating my conclusion all morning especially given the great comments about the UK made blades and relatively poor ones about the German. Now just to set the tone, I have been using the German Wilkinson for the past six months or so and I am very familiar with it and it is now really my confirmed blade of choice (signature shaving product?).

Smooth, close and comfortable, this morning the German Wilkinson left me smiling ear to ear. While not being as sharp as the UK blade, it's overall balance of sharpness and smoothness far outweigh the very sharp and "bright" UK model. The German felt unwavering and solid as I started my first passes and dealt with my stubborn spots with ease. Mounted in my favorite Merkur 1904 I have complete confidence with the combo which really makes shaving a relaxing pleasure. Now it could be said that if I spent the next six months with the UK blade I may reach the same feelings, but head to head with the German this morning it was no contest, I see no reason to continue the test.

AS always I submit my personal results and comments to the board open and honestly and with the acceptance that "everyone's results will vary".
Last edited by gsgo on Sun Jan 10, 2010 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Good shaving,

Gary
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Squire
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Post by Squire »

Bet that post makes Oscar happy.
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Squire
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Straight Arrow
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Post by Straight Arrow »

Gary, good to read about your results. The German Classic is obviously your blade and you were able to clearly articulate the reasons why. I enjoy testing various blades and I am always interested to see how others perceive them and how the same blade will vary in performance from one guy to the next and with one razor to the next. Variables like this certainly enrich the shaving adventure.
Rich
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Post by Squire »

And make it more fun.
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Squire
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