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Mardor Antique Frame Razor

Item Description

Mardor Antique Frame Safety Razor
A French turn-of-the-century frame safety razor


The usual weekend lure of the flea market brought me to town this last Friday and as I was snuffling about at one of the stalls I spied this little boxed safety razor set. But this wasn’t a case of love at first sight. I looked it over and started to laugh about it to myself. This just seemed too impossible to believe: a safety razor that used straight razor blades. :biggrin: After a thorough examination, my curiosity satisfied, I put the razor back on the table and wandered off chuckling to myself (I am straight razor fan and it has been donkey’s years since I used any double-edged razor). So it was rather astonishing to find I was thinking about that razor more and more during the day until finally I was mentally kicking myself for not having grabbed it. Well, I returned to the market on Sunday and luck was with me as the same people had showed up again and the razor was still there. This time there was no hesitation and (for a mere 10 euro) I claimed my prize. :wink:

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The Razor

This is a frame safety razor manufactured in France by Mardor sometime between 1880 and 1920. I do not know much about the company at all, except to say that I assume they may have once produced straight razors.

I should think that this razor was a fairly popular model for its day. I base this on the fact that not all of the blades in the set bear the same maker’s mark, so that there were evidently enough of these razors sold to make it worthwhile for other firms to produce the blades. Naturally, one didn’t just toss these blades after a few shaves, but stropped and honed them time after time until they just plain wore down to the point where it was no longer possible to effectively resharpen them.

attachment.php


I have seen other frame-style razors in pictures on the internet, but what seems to set this one apart from the rest is that the blades which it takes are half-hollow ground just as if one had sliced off sections of a regular straight razor. With respect to this, I would regard this as something of a transitional design, being one step away from a straight razor, but not yet into the area of later safety razors with thin(ner) blades.

The frame and handle of the razor are constructed mainly of a good mixture of thick, stamped and turned brass which is heavily plated on the frame. There are only a few items of steel (pins, springs) and these were also very heavily plated. This plating might be chrome, but is more probably nickel. The generally condition of the handle and frame was very good with almost no rust and only a few little chips in the plating from long use.

attachment.php


As can be seen in the photos, the frame is a clever little affair. The heavy steel blade is inserted from behind, being pushed down under spring-loaded tabs on either side of the frame until it indexes just short of the end of the teeth on the front of the frame. A spring-loaded finger on the rear of the frame supplies more than sufficient pressure on the spine of the blade to keep it firmly in place.

The brass handle which one holds onto during the shave has a second function. When unscrewed from the frame, a special holder can be inserted into the lower, open end of the handle. The combination of the two serves as a clever holder for the blades, allowing them to be sharpened or stropped very easily. Some amount of thought went into this design as is evidenced by the little indexing groove in the blade holder and the corresponding tab machined into the brass handle which together prevent the holder from swiveling in the brass handle when stropping a blade. It will be seen in the photo that the brass handle has worn down considerably where it came in contact with pasted strops over the years, which tells us that this razor was in regular use.

attachment.php


Sharpening

Once again, my curious whiskers drove me to do a shaving test. And, naturally, it seemed only right to give the thing a proper cleaning and sharpening before risking my face.

The blades for this razor measure (when new) 4 cm long (1-5/8”), 22 mm wide (7/8”) and 4.5 mm in thickness (about 5/32”). They had all received a good satin finish at the factory and all seemed to be made from a good grade of steel. Naturally, there was a little bit of rust and corrosion to be cleaned up on one or two of the blades, but three of the four could be still be considered as serviceable.

Due to the blades having exactly the same form as a straight razor, the sharpening was a no-brainer for me. After selecting the best of the four blades in the kit, I worked it back and forth on the usual series of Japanese water stones, ending up with the Belgian coticle. I elected to do this initial work without the holder, pressing down and moving the blade on the stones with light pressure from two fingers. Then - having inserted the blade into the special holder - the sharpening was finished with passes on various grades of pasted leather strops.

attachment.php


The Shave

This being a safety razor, I knew I would have to swish it clean in water as I shaved and so opted to lather up with a slightly moister foam than I would chose for when shaving with any of my straights.

My performance judgment of this razor may be a little prejudiced since I usually shave with a straight, but although I found the shave to be a little odd, it was not terrible. It wouldn’t shave me as close as my straights and it took a number of passes to achieve what I considered a reasonable result, but produce results it did, without cutting me, and the final effect would be perfectly respectable anywhere.

Being curious as to whether the eventual rounding off of the blade would change the razor’s performance, I chose to shave a second time using one of the older, heavily-used blades. Remarkably, the results were very nearly the same: again without cutting or undue discomfort.

In its day this razor would have appealed to those who hadn’t yet learned to use a straight razor and desired what they perceived to be a safer razor with which to shave. Too, this little razor would have made an ideal travel companion for its time. Sharpen a few blades at home, pop ‘em in the box and off down the road! And, if you ended up dropping or chipping a blade you could just buy a replacement without having to replace the whole kit.

On the negative side of things, the bulk of the frame on this razor made it feel a little clumsy in use, most especially under the nose. Sharpening the blades and cleaning the razor after use were both a little bit more finicky and troublesome than a straight. But, hey, it worked! And we all know that technology marches on… even if it occasionally needs new shoes.

- Ignatz


If you have any questions or comments concerning this review, please follow this link to the discussion thread for this article: http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?p=339982#post339982

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Weird! In a way this reminds me of a Rolls-Razor type contraption.
Fantastic review.
Mardor Antique Frame Safety Razor
A French turn-of-the-century frame safety razor


The usual weekend lure of the flea market brought me to town this last Friday and as I was snuffling about at one of the stalls I spied this little boxed safety razor set. But this wasn’t a case of love at first sight. I looked it over and started to laugh about it to myself. This just seemed too impossible to believe: a safety razor that used straight razor blades. :biggrin: After a thorough examination, my curiosity satisfied, I put the razor back on the table and wandered off chuckling to myself (I am straight razor fan and it has been donkey’s years since I used any double-edged razor). So it was rather astonishing to find I was thinking about that razor more and more during the day until finally I was mentally kicking myself for not having grabbed it. Well, I returned to the market on Sunday and luck was with me as the same people had showed up again and the razor was still there. This time there was no hesitation and (for a mere 10 euro) I claimed my prize. :wink:

attachment.php


The Razor

This is a frame safety razor manufactured in France by Mardor sometime between 1880 and 1920. I do not know much about the company at all, except to say that I assume they may have once produced straight razors.

I should think that this razor was a fairly popular model for its day. I base this on the fact that not all of the blades in the set bear the same maker’s mark, so that there were evidently enough of these razors sold to make it worthwhile for other firms to produce the blades. Naturally, one didn’t just toss these blades after a few shaves, but stropped and honed them time after time until they just plain wore down to the point where it was no longer possible to effectively resharpen them.

attachment.php


I have seen other frame-style razors in pictures on the internet, but what seems to set this one apart from the rest is that the blades which it takes are half-hollow ground just as if one had sliced off sections of a regular straight razor. With respect to this, I would regard this as something of a transitional design, being one step away from a straight razor, but not yet into the area of later safety razors with thin(ner) blades.

The frame and handle of the razor are constructed mainly of a good mixture of thick, stamped and turned brass which is heavily plated on the frame. There are only a few items of steel (pins, springs) and these were also very heavily plated. This plating might be chrome, but is more probably nickel. The generally condition of the handle and frame was very good with almost no rust and only a few little chips in the plating from long use.

attachment.php


As can be seen in the photos, the frame is a clever little affair. The heavy steel blade is inserted from behind, being pushed down under spring-loaded tabs on either side of the frame until it indexes just short of the end of the teeth on the front of the frame. A spring-loaded finger on the rear of the frame supplies more than sufficient pressure on the spine of the blade to keep it firmly in place.

The brass handle which one holds onto during the shave has a second function. When unscrewed from the frame, a special holder can be inserted into the lower, open end of the handle. The combination of the two serves as a clever holder for the blades, allowing them to be sharpened or stropped very easily. Some amount of thought went into this design as is evidenced by the little indexing groove in the blade holder and the corresponding tab machined into the brass handle which together prevent the holder from swiveling in the brass handle when stropping a blade. It will be seen in the photo that the brass handle has worn down considerably where it came in contact with pasted strops over the years, which tells us that this razor was in regular use.

attachment.php


Sharpening

Once again, my curious whiskers drove me to do a shaving test. And, naturally, it seemed only right to give the thing a proper cleaning and sharpening before risking my face.

The blades for this razor measure (when new) 4 cm long (1-5/8”), 22 mm wide (7/8”) and 4.5 mm in thickness (about 5/32”). They had all received a good satin finish at the factory and all seemed to be made from a good grade of steel. Naturally, there was a little bit of rust and corrosion to be cleaned up on one or two of the blades, but three of the four could be still be considered as serviceable.

Due to the blades having exactly the same form as a straight razor, the sharpening was a no-brainer for me. After selecting the best of the four blades in the kit, I worked it back and forth on the usual series of Japanese water stones, ending up with the Belgian coticle. I elected to do this initial work without the holder, pressing down and moving the blade on the stones with light pressure from two fingers. Then - having inserted the blade into the special holder - the sharpening was finished with passes on various grades of pasted leather strops.

attachment.php


The Shave

This being a safety razor, I knew I would have to swish it clean in water as I shaved and so opted to lather up with a slightly moister foam than I would chose for when shaving with any of my straights.

My performance judgment of this razor may be a little prejudiced since I usually shave with a straight, but although I found the shave to be a little odd, it was not terrible. It wouldn’t shave me as close as my straights and it took a number of passes to achieve what I considered a reasonable result, but produce results it did, without cutting me, and the final effect would be perfectly respectable anywhere.

Being curious as to whether the eventual rounding off of the blade would change the razor’s performance, I chose to shave a second time using one of the older, heavily-used blades. Remarkably, the results were very nearly the same: again without cutting or undue discomfort.

In its day this razor would have appealed to those who hadn’t yet learned to use a straight razor and desired what they perceived to be a safer razor with which to shave. Too, this little razor would have made an ideal travel companion for its time. Sharpen a few blades at home, pop ‘em in the box and off down the road! And, if you ended up dropping or chipping a blade you could just buy a replacement without having to replace the whole kit.

On the negative side of things, the bulk of the frame on this razor made it feel a little clumsy in use, most especially under the nose. Sharpening the blades and cleaning the razor after use were both a little bit more finicky and troublesome than a straight. But, hey, it worked! And we all know that technology marches on… even if it occasionally needs new shoes.

- Ignatz


If you have any questions or comments concerning this review, please follow this link to the discussion thread for this article: http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?p=339982#post339982
Grip
1.00 star(s)
Price
5.00 star(s)
Balance
1.00 star(s)
Quality
3.00 star(s)
Adjustability
1.00 star(s)
User Friendly
1.00 star(s)
Aggressiveness
1.00 star(s)
Ease of Blade Replacement
1.00 star(s)

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