Rooney brushes

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Fido
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Rooney brushes

Post by Fido »

I decided quite innocently to include a post in my blog about UK brush makers. So who are they? I thought the list would include:

Progress Vulfix - now including the Simpson label.
Edwin Jagger
Kent Brushes
Rooney.

UK brands include the likes of TOBS, Trumpers etc but they don't make them themselves.

Now I'm a bellologist too, and I do things like researching where and how bells are made and visit foundries to see them cast.

So I thought it would be interesting to visit the UK brush makers to see their set up. I can locate them all - except Rooney.

In fact I have drawn a blank on finding out anything about the current Rooney operation. I get no replies to emails from the main UK online seller. The Rooney website has been offline since I started my enquiries.

All enquiries about Rooney draw the same response. Very evasive. No one seems to really know whats going on. Although the Rooney brand trades on its traditional UK brush maker image you will not find many of its brushes in UK shops.

Now just to add to the interest, a post on another forum states that it was said by an undisclosed source that Rooney brushes are now made in China. Now there's nothing wrong in that. Most stuff is. And a lot of it is very good. But if it is claimed that something is made in England in the old traditional way - and it isn't - that's something else.

Now I'm not looking to be difficult. But someone must know where and how Rooney Brushes are now being made and they should get Rooney to make a clear statement. And get their suppliers to be more communicative. Some of us care about dealing with a business that provides high quality customer service and openness in all that they do. I would love to buy a Rooney brush which matches the claims made for it. But I'm not buying one until I know for sure where and how it is now being made. I've got nothing against Chinese made products but I at least want my shaving brush handle made in England, even if it must have a chinese made knot.
bernards66
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Post by bernards66 »

Fido, Well, I guess that you know then, based on the last part of your post, that E-J does NOT make shave brushes; they make handles for shave brushes. If that meets your criteria, then they're 'English' brushes.

Regarding RA Rooney, yes, I suppose 'evasive' might fit, or perhaps, 'veiled'. As far as I know, their brushes are still made in the East End of London. Somewhere I have their old address, but they were forced to re-locate in that period shortly before their brushes reappeared on the market. They relocated in the same neighborhood I was told at the time. They have never had a website to my knowledge, but a few of our members have communciated directly with Lee Sabini at times via email and phone. There was some talk of moving the manufacturing operation to Eastern Europe, but as far as I know, that has not occurred. It is true that they seem to be difficult to find in Britain, except for rebranded specimens at T&H and similiar establishments. Have you carefully checked the London telephone directories and business listings?
Regards,
Gordon
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Fido
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Post by Fido »

Many thanks. But how absurd that I should even have to consider doing that!

When the UK suppliers won't respond to emails something isn't right.

This is the R A Rooney website:

http://www.rarooney.com/

Since shaving forums have had a massive impact on demand for shaving products the main players keep a close watch on what goes on on sites like these.

So I will wait patiently for an authoritative statement.
bernards66
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Post by bernards66 »

Fido, Are you sure that there was ever an actual website at that address? In any case, PR and a careful watch on shaving forums and all the rest is a new thing. A number of these firms used to be difficult to reach and non-communicative. I'm not trying to necessarily justify their current situation, but only to point out that it was more the norm until not that long ago. Some of the Jermyn Street firms didn't even HAVE email addresses until a few years ago. As far as availability in Britain is concerned, I understand that 'Vulfix' brushes are hard to come by as well. If I can find out anything more specific for you, I'll post it.
Regards,
Gordon
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Fido
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Post by Fido »

I simply don't know. The message implies it.

I'm sure sometime soon all will be clear!
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Ambrosia
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Post by Ambrosia »

Just checked on 'waybackwhen internet archive' and there's nothing for that website which indicates there never was one or at least one that ever got into google

i then checked on domain tools and the domain name is owned by someone in plymouth
http://whois.domaintools.com/rarooney.com

Fido are you doing the research to set up a shop or just curiosity, (am i being too nosey)
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Teiste
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Post by Teiste »

Fido,as I have told you in another forum,thanks for your research and I wont consider buy a Rooney (I was thinking in getting two actually) until they make a clear statement about where theyre made.I wont mind if theyre made in China but I want things clear.Ill get the Simpson's instead and Im sure I wont regret it.
brz90
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Post by brz90 »

Did a search and tried phoning them up, got number unobtainable. Unity works - RA Rooney & Co. Ltd.'s historic though relocated City of London brush factory - seems to have been turned into retail units.
Rooney is a brand name no more no less it seems now and their brushes could be made anywhere, probably not by Dickensian artisans with Dick Van Dyke cockney accents though.
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Fido
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Post by Fido »

Ambrosia wrote:Just checked on 'waybackwhen internet archive' and there's nothing for that website which indicates there never was one or at least one that ever got into google

i then checked on domain tools and the domain name is owned by someone in plymouth
http://whois.domaintools.com/rarooney.com

Fido are you doing the research to set up a shop or just curiosity, (am i being too nosey)
You are not being nosey!
Have a careful look at my original post. I explain why I am pursuing this.
I think it's rather sad really. Rooney built up a formidable reputation as a family business. Nothing goes on for ever and it was inevitable that someone else would one day buy them out. As everyone knows, Simpsons were taken over by Progress Vulfix. In their case, they now make Simpson brushes - but we have an assurance that they still make them to the same high standard and quality at the Isle of Man factory. Simpson brushes are distributed and sold in the UK and can be seen on display in several well known establishments.
The problem with Rooney is that there seems to be a complete lack of communication about their operations. The only UK online outlet never replies to emails. The present owner is said to be elusive, and no one seems to know where the brushes are now made.
My enquiries will continue.............
Last edited by Fido on Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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VintageBlades
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Post by VintageBlades »

bernards66 wrote:There was some talk of moving the manufacturing operation to Eastern Europe, but as far as I know, that has not occurred.
That is a dead issue.
Jim
~ Vintage Blades LLC ~
http://vintagebladesllc.com/
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Fido
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Post by Fido »

VintageBlades wrote:
bernards66 wrote:There was some talk of moving the manufacturing operation to Eastern Europe, but as far as I know, that has not occurred.
That is a dead issue.
So perhaps as you sell Rooney brushes you can tell us more than the UK outlet about where the brushes are now made?
bernards66
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Post by bernards66 »

Fido, Hopefullly, Jim will be in a position to reply to your question. If not, I, and a few others, could probably rouse ourselves to really pursue it. As I mentioned, we do have a phone number for Mr. Sabini. I very seriously doubt that those brushes are being made in China. They don't have that generic Chinese knot look and feel to them at all. Further, if they were made there I think they would be much more readily and consistantly available....and we all know that's not the case. And just for the record, RA Rooney was not 'bought out' in the usual sense. As you probably know, it was a family business going all the way back to the 1700s ( and some say, even earlier ) and Priscella Rooney was the last of the line. She continued to oversee the firm as best she could until well into her 80s but having no appropriate heirs she knew she had to do something if the firm was to survive. It's a long and tangled tale ( even the parts I know ), but eventually she chose Mr. Sabini to pass the firm on to. I do not know the details of exactly how that transferance was handled, but that was the end result. It was Lee Sabini who put in the work, which was considerable, to get the firm back up and really functioning. I've talked with several individuals who have personally meet him and he is said to be seriously into maintaining the old Rooney tradition if at all possible. A major portion of Rooney's business was always supplying upper end brushes to prestigious retail firms like D R Harris, F&M, Austin Reed, etc. and there were always more of those produced than brushes sold under their own name.
Regards,
Gordon
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Sam
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Post by Sam »

I have spoken to Lee and I always understood that the brushes being made, it was not a production facility like we might envision, but more like artisans doing a brush. I have not spoken at length with Lee about his process, but the brushes I have gotten from him, one was at the time a one-of, and may still be, and he told me he turned it by hand. Lee is usually very open about his business but I do think he does more than just own Rooney.
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VintageBlades
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Post by VintageBlades »

I can emphatically state that Rooney brushes are not manufactured in China. The documents that accompany each and every shipment of brushes that I receive from Rooney certify to the appropriate authorities that the country of manufacture of the brushes is the United Kingdom.

What I do not understand is what would be served by my providing to this individual or anyone else information concerning RA Rooney or anyone else with whom I do business. It is not clear to me what exactly is the motivation for obtaining this information.

Sorry to be so contrary, but there are too many things going on in the business community right now that are not what they may seem.
Jim
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http://vintagebladesllc.com/
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Ambrosia
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Post by Ambrosia »

well he certainly doesnt advertise, his company isnt even listed in the phone book

i've seen his brushes online but never seen any in shops and if he cant be found when were searching for him its no wonder. You would have to suspect that his company is not long for this world
Have a careful look at my original post. I explain why I am pursuing this.
and here i was ready to put in my 1st order
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Post by Ecosse »

VintageBlades wrote:I can emphatically state that Rooney brushes are not manufactured in China. The documents that accompany each and every shipment of brushes that I receive from Rooney certify to the appropriate authorities that the country of manufacture of the brushes is the United Kingdom.

What I do not understand is what would be served by my providing to this individual or anyone else information concerning RA Rooney or anyone else with whom I do business. It is not clear to me what exactly is the motivation for obtaining this information.

Sorry to be so contrary, but there are too many things going on in the business community right now that are not what they may seem.
Jim, do you know why Rooney does not have a web presence?
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Post by Dave_D »

Knowing for sure where and how something is made could be considered company confidential information. Being interested in knowing it is one thing, feeling entitled to proprietary information is something else. Rooneys are great brushes, the vendor that has posted here has an impeccable reputation in my book and I see no real reason to doubt what is being said here.

If knowing 'for sure' where and how something is being made is more important than the actual function and quality of the item, maybe other options are a better choice. Ive seen a lot of information that sure looked like it was really true, certified bango tango, only to find later that it wasnt.
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Teiste
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Post by Teiste »

VintageBlades wrote:I can emphatically state that Rooney brushes are not manufactured in China. The documents that accompany each and every shipment of brushes that I receive from Rooney certify to the appropriate authorities that the country of manufacture of the brushes is the United Kingdom.

What I do not understand is what would be served by my providing to this individual or anyone else information concerning RA Rooney or anyone else with whom I do business. It is not clear to me what exactly is the motivation for obtaining this information.

Sorry to be so contrary, but there are too many things going on in the business community right now that are not what they may seem.
May I ask where in UK is the Rooney factory located?
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Post by bernards66 »

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
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Post by Nitrox »

I don't know how big the Rooney operation is but the brushes are definitely made in the UK. I and others here have received quite a few prototype brushes directly from Lee. Mr. Sabini is really dedicated and knows his brushes very well. He wouldn't make an inferior product and have his reputation behind it.
Bruno

"Shhhhhaving cream, be nice and clean
shave every day and you'll always look keen."
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