On my neverending quest for esoteric and obscure Shaving Soaps I have come across other items of shaving paraphenalia that don't seem to get a great deal of attention on the English language boards, despite being popular in their country of origin. The brush manufacturer HL Thater is one such company, their brushes are very popular on the German-language boards, but whenever they come up for discussion on the US boards most people can't seem to get past the resemblance to Shavemac brushes and their has been the suggestion that Thater brushes are simply Shavemac brushes with a rebranded handle. Similiarities aside, HL Thater is the older of the two companies, tracing their roots back to the early 1900's, but whilst Shavemac is a known quantity on these boards, the Thater brushes remain little-known. I have a few HL Thater brushes, but am reviewing the 4125/0 Chubby Silvertip, a brush with a 22mm knot, standing 96mm overall.
These brushes are supposed to be manufactured in a similiar fashion to the venerable Simpson's Chubby brushes, the retailer's website going into an in depth description as to how the Simpson's brushes and those of HL Thater are the only two brushes still being made in this fashion today. Seeing as the company itself invites a direct comparison with a Simpson's Chubby, how do the two stack up against one another? Simply put, the Thater bares little resemblance to it's British namesake; and it is with this general feeling of being underwhelmed that I will continue my review. It's not a bad brush, but it's nothing special either.
I was looking forward to receiving this brush, pictures I had seen of Thater brush displays in various shops showed brushes with what looked to be a genuine white bristle of the two banded variety, but the quality of hair isn't quite so impressive once in hand. The hair would certainly pass as a silvertip by today's standards, and it is in fact a nice grade of badger hair that is used, but compared to other high-end brushes, such as Rooney Finest, Plisson HMW or two-band Simpson's Super, it is definitely inferior. I would rate the quality of hair as being better than Shavemac's current Silvertip, but not as good as the older Shavemac bristle favoured by many. The tips are a reasonably bright, slightly off-white in colour, but with some darker solids mixed in. The bristles are of a medium guage, and when dry felt pleasantly resilient without being overly stiff. The knot itself is of a medium-high density, but despite the claims there is no resemblance to a Chubby. The density is intermediate between the older style Shavemac Silvertip and the newer one, the Thater being more densely packed than the current regular Silvertip Shavemac uses, but much less dense than the older/ DO1 bristle. It's a step up from a Vulfix, but I don't feel that this brush would satisfy someone looking for a firm and scrubby knot either. The shape of the brush is a very exaggerated bulb shape, personally I prefer a fan shaped knot, but tried to keep an open mind as far as this particular brush was concerned.
All in all, Iwas completely underwhelmed by this brush when it arrived. Also, nit-picking here, I ordered a HL Thater brush, but received one labelled HL Thate. Now I know that collectively we've forgiven both Plisson and Simpson's for more grievous lapses in quality control when it comes to labelling there wares, but this is the kind of thing that annoys me because I know that it shouldn't.
So medicore initial impressions aside, how does this brush actually perform? Better than I expected to be honest, but the high loft of the brush negates the density of the knot. By this I mean that despite being relatively generously packed, the overly tall loft means that the brush feels very floppy on the face. Another strange thing that I noticed about this brush was that the bristles had a tendency to clump together when wet, and this, coupled with the tall loft, made the brush a lot more unwieldy than a 22mm knot would suggest. It always seems to want to go in the opposite direction to which you want. The brush has bloomed very little with use, due mainly to the bulb-shape, as opposed to the density. That being said, for a soft feeling brush like this, it whipped up a surprisingly good lather from the soaps with which it was used. Like more densely packed brushes it seems to hold a lot of very rich lather right at the core of the knot, but because it isn't overly dense it gives the lather up quite easily. It worked much better than I thought it would with soaps, but I still feel that this brush would be more appropriate for someone who prefers to use Shave Creams.
On the face, the brush feels somewhat floppy as mentioned previously, and despite the bulb shape, and moderately high density of the knot, it doesn't feel at all scrubby. Personally, I prefer a little more backbone in my brushes, and despite the fact that it managed to whip up a nice lather with my soaps, I still feel somewhat unsatisfied with it in day to day use.
I've given a list of negatives, but there are some positives. As already mentioned the grade of hair is quite nice and the brush gives the impression of being a well made product, having lost only a single hair since I've started using it.
This brush retails for 99.50 EUR, and this is the major stumbling block for me. Often, when buying higher-priced items one is forced to comment on the distinction between over-priced and expensive in order to rationalise their purchases. I have brushes that cost more than the Thater, two-band Simpson's, Rooney Finest, Plisson HMW's, a Da Vinci Uomo and my treasured Gercon HMW, and whilst these were expensive items to buy, they weren't overpriced, in my opinion at least. The Thater on the other hand is overpriced, plain and simple. For similiar money you can get a comparable DO1 Shavemac, and for much less you can buy a Shavemac Finest which is far superior to the Thater.
Overall, one is left feeling somewhat unsatisfied with this brush. Taken on it's merits it's not a bad brush, and I certainly wouldn't advise people to steer clear of Thater brushes altogether, but it is unwise for the company to invite comparisons between this brush, and a classic like the Simpson's Chubby which is better made and better functionally.
Lacking any sort of photographic ability I'm afraid you'll have to make do with a link to an e-tailer who carries this particular brush. http://www.thedifferentscent.de/product ... cts_id=968
"Just because a chap becomes a ghost, surely it doesn't mean that he ceases to be a gentleman."