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English Leather Shave Soap

Item Description

This review concerns vintage English Leather shave soap. This is from the Mem Company who was the original manufacturer of the English Leather fragrance range. It is old enough it has no bar code on the packaging so I am guessing it is from the late 1960's or early 1970's. It does not have an ingredient list printed on the box but as I will explain later, it is almost certainly a tallow based soap.

No discussion of this soap would complete without a short history of English Leather. Introduced by Mem in 1949 it is truly an American classic. Here is a short blurb I copied over at Basenotes;

MEM Company was a toiletries and cosmetics company founded in 1883 in Vienna, Austria. MEM moved to the US in the late forties and became known for fragrances such as English Leather and Timberline.
In 1996 the company was acquired by Renaissance Cosmetics.


The English Leather of today is not what I remembered on my Dad when I was little. The original was more like a Spanish Leather scent with more leather and a bit more soap. It was warmer and sweeter than the newer version with what some call a honey note. It was a very comforting thing when I smelled it on my dad. The newer version is soapier and drier than the original. I like the newer version but prefer the old. One thing we should clear up is that English Leather was certainly not considered a bargain basement, old school barbershop scent relegated to the bottom shelf of drugstores. It was not Penhaligon's by any stretch but it was a top shelf, designer type scent and remained so for a few decades. It was considered a big step up from things like Old Spice. I dare say English Leather is to America what Tabac is to Germany. A very timeless, masculine fragrance range that men of nearly any age could have worn. Now to business.

Price: This is completely subjective as this product is no longer made. I have acquired it in trade and feel I came out very well. This is a grail type acquisition for me. As I have stated many times, this was my Dads' fragrance and I would probably have paid a lot more for it than I am out. I am very grateful to Mako72(Jay) for making this trade happen.

Quality: Very good indeed. The only thing that would have made this better is a ceramic dish or wooden bowl with cover. The plastic bowl it comes with is fairly nice but not in the luxury category. The soap round itself was nicely embossed with the English Leather saddle logo. It is a deep tan colour and was well formed with no sloppiness.

Scent: The most subjective category of all. It is hard enough to describe a currently made fragrance. Let alone something that is probably forty years old. The scent has of course faded over time but bear in mind that most shave soaps were not heavily laden with scent. It has the unmistakable notes of classic English Leather but I suspect they were never as rich as the edt. I like it and my love of English Leather should be noted here. Unbiased my opinion is not.

Lather: Now here is something not so subjective. At least to me. Do you like Tabac? Do you like AOS or Penhaligon's tallow fifth Blenheim Bouquet? Then you will love this soap. I have used enough quality shave lathers now to never allow myself to get too excited after a use or two. I always shave with a lather three to five times before making up my mind. I knew after the second use this one was going to be a winner. As I mentioned above I believe this to be a tallow based soap and would wager money on it. It has the creamy, dense lather of AOS. No, I do not misspeak myself. I said AOS. Those of you who use AOS know what I mean. This soap is right there. I find it a bit better than my Penhaligon's and slightly better than Tabac. Let me assure you this is not nostalgia speaking. To be honest, I never expected an ancillary item to the main product line to even approach good, let alone excellent+. This soap delivers in spades. Once I broke through the forty year old top layer on the cake, this soap proved itself to be nearly effortless to load and lather. The only thing it lacked compared to AOS was slightly less lather stability and it was no issue at all. I suspect in soft water this soap would be even more amazing. Truly one of the best I have used.

Efficacy: Outstanding. Lubrication was superb, glide was excellent, it lathers easily, it was protective and comforting. What more should a shave lather do?

Moisturising: This facet of the soap took me completely by surprise. I am always dubious of products that are part of a fragrance line. Usually one of the products is the star of the show and the others are add ons that usually do not measure up to the main item. As mentioned with the lather itself it does not apply here. This soap left my face feeling as good as AOS or Provence Sante! I was stunned. Cologne fragrance soaps are usually nothing to write home about in this category. This one left me with no need for aftershave of any kind.


This is truly a great shave soap. Nostalgia may have driven my acquisition of it but performance drives this review. It is excellent. Easily one of my top two or three lathers. Surpassed only by AOS in overall effect. This is a rare soap. Even rarer is finding something you have wanted so badly and have it not only live up to hopes but surpass your expectations. It did and with ease. Again, thanks must go to Jay for initiating this trade. I would likely have never found a cake of this. Let alone in the factory bowl with box!

I have linked to Jay's original post so you can see photos of the unused product. I am sorry for the lack of lathering photos but our digital camera was "liberated" by some unsavoury swine a few months back and I have not replaced it yet.

Regards, Todd

Discussion Thread

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This review concerns vintage English Leather shave soap. This is from the Mem Company who was the original manufacturer of the English Leather fragrance range. It is old enough it has no bar code on the packaging so I am guessing it is from the late 1960's or early 1970's. It does not have an ingredient list printed on the box but as I will explain later, it is almost certainly a tallow based soap.

No discussion of this soap would complete without a short history of English Leather. Introduced by Mem in 1949 it is truly an American classic. Here is a short blurb I copied over at Basenotes;

MEM Company was a toiletries and cosmetics company founded in 1883 in Vienna, Austria. MEM moved to the US in the late forties and became known for fragrances such as English Leather and Timberline.
In 1996 the company was acquired by Renaissance Cosmetics.


The English Leather of today is not what I remembered on my Dad when I was little. The original was more like a Spanish Leather scent with more leather and a bit more soap. It was warmer and sweeter than the newer version with what some call a honey note. It was a very comforting thing when I smelled it on my dad. The newer version is soapier and drier than the original. I like the newer version but prefer the old. One thing we should clear up is that English Leather was certainly not considered a bargain basement, old school barbershop scent relegated to the bottom shelf of drugstores. It was not Penhaligon's by any stretch but it was a top shelf, designer type scent and remained so for a few decades. It was considered a big step up from things like Old Spice. I dare say English Leather is to America what Tabac is to Germany. A very timeless, masculine fragrance range that men of nearly any age could have worn. Now to business.

Price: This is completely subjective as this product is no longer made. I have acquired it in trade and feel I came out very well. This is a grail type acquisition for me. As I have stated many times, this was my Dads' fragrance and I would probably have paid a lot more for it than I am out. I am very grateful to Mako72(Jay) for making this trade happen.

Quality: Very good indeed. The only thing that would have made this better is a ceramic dish or wooden bowl with cover. The plastic bowl it comes with is fairly nice but not in the luxury category. The soap round itself was nicely embossed with the English Leather saddle logo. It is a deep tan colour and was well formed with no sloppiness.

Scent: The most subjective category of all. It is hard enough to describe a currently made fragrance. Let alone something that is probably forty years old. The scent has of course faded over time but bear in mind that most shave soaps were not heavily laden with scent. It has the unmistakable notes of classic English Leather but I suspect they were never as rich as the edt. I like it and my love of English Leather should be noted here. Unbiased my opinion is not.

Lather: Now here is something not so subjective. At least to me. Do you like Tabac? Do you like AOS or Penhaligon's tallow fifth Blenheim Bouquet? Then you will love this soap. I have used enough quality shave lathers now to never allow myself to get too excited after a use or two. I always shave with a lather three to five times before making up my mind. I knew after the second use this one was going to be a winner. As I mentioned above I believe this to be a tallow based soap and would wager money on it. It has the creamy, dense lather of AOS. No, I do not misspeak myself. I said AOS. Those of you who use AOS know what I mean. This soap is right there. I find it a bit better than my Penhaligon's and slightly better than Tabac. Let me assure you this is not nostalgia speaking. To be honest, I never expected an ancillary item to the main product line to even approach good, let alone excellent+. This soap delivers in spades. Once I broke through the forty year old top layer on the cake, this soap proved itself to be nearly effortless to load and lather. The only thing it lacked compared to AOS was slightly less lather stability and it was no issue at all. I suspect in soft water this soap would be even more amazing. Truly one of the best I have used.

Efficacy: Outstanding. Lubrication was superb, glide was excellent, it lathers easily, it was protective and comforting. What more should a shave lather do?

Moisturising: This facet of the soap took me completely by surprise. I am always dubious of products that are part of a fragrance line. Usually one of the products is the star of the show and the others are add ons that usually do not measure up to the main item. As mentioned with the lather itself it does not apply here. This soap left my face feeling as good as AOS or Provence Sante! I was stunned. Cologne fragrance soaps are usually nothing to write home about in this category. This one left me with no need for aftershave of any kind.


This is truly a great shave soap. Nostalgia may have driven my acquisition of it but performance drives this review. It is excellent. Easily one of my top two or three lathers. Surpassed only by AOS in overall effect. This is a rare soap. Even rarer is finding something you have wanted so badly and have it not only live up to hopes but surpass your expectations. It did and with ease. Again, thanks must go to Jay for initiating this trade. I would likely have never found a cake of this. Let alone in the factory bowl with box!

I have linked to Jay's original post so you can see photos of the unused product. I am sorry for the lack of lathering photos but our digital camera was "liberated" by some unsavoury swine a few months back and I have not replaced it yet.

Regards, Todd

Discussion Thread
Price
5.00 star(s)
Scent
4.00 star(s)
Lather
5.00 star(s)
Quality
4.00 star(s)
Efficacy
5.00 star(s)
Moisturizing
4.00 star(s)

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