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Simpson 57 Best

Item Description

Simpson brushes are well-known around these parts, and for good reason. Their reputation as high quality products is well deserved. A quick stroll through the SOTD thread is guaranteed to give the viewer an eyeful of classic Simpson brushes: Stubby, Chubby, Persian Jar, Major, Wee Scot, to name just a few. SBAD is sure to inspire desire for a Simpson brush at one time or another, and I readily admit to being as susceptible to SBAD as the next guy. The last time it struck, I had planned to sate it with a Plisson, but instead followed good advice from Antique Hoosier, a veteran B&Ber who knows his brushes, to consider a Simpson instead, and one of the lesser known varieties at that.

After doing some research, I settled on the Simpson Fifty models. They come in five different flavors, with knot sizes ranging from 18 mm to a beastly 25. I elected to go down the middle, and selected the "57" with a 22 mm knot and 45 mm loft. Simpson only offers the Fifties in Best Badger, which is equivalent to the Super Silvertip of my much-loved Rooneys. After scouring the web for some time, I found the Fifty series to only be carried as regular stock by Shoebox Shave Shop (here). Gary was kind enough to inquire of Simpson/Vulfix if a custom 57 in Super could be obtained, but it was unfortunately a no go.

In my development as a traditional wet shaver, I have come to the conclusion that I prefer brushes with smaller knots, and my personal favorite is the Rooney Heritage Beehive, Size 1, with its 21 mm knot. You can view a side by side comparison here. A few things to note, the tips of the Rooney are noticeably whiter than those of the 57, perhaps reflecting the uniqueness of the Rooney's special grade of Super two-band hair found in the Heritages. Tip color was not the only difference, though. The knots of both brushes have excellent backbone. They are resilient, without being stiff. When dry, both brushes have very scritchy tips, but the 57 remains fairly scritchy when wet. The knot of the 57 is very dense, much more so than the Rooney. The quality has been outstanding, as well. With my Rooneys (as well as a Shavemac and Vulfix), each has shed a bit at the beginning, and then a hair here or there periodically. The 57 has not shed a single hair after two weeks of constant use, which is pretty good in my book.

As noted above, the different varieties of Simpson brushes reflect their handles. Chubbies, Stubbies, Persian Jars, Keyholes, etc, are pretty obviously named. What does Fifty mean, let alone 57? Well, I don't know, but with two halves divided by a center ring, with the top half modestly tapering in until it hits the ring, and a concave lower portion, we have a handle that is not easily named. The plastic resin feels very solid in the hand, almost heavy, and the ergonomics are excellent. The lower half fits my average sized hands very well, and makes whipping up a bowl of lather or face lathering fairly easy.

Lathering is what it's all about, and I tested the brush in a variety of conditions with an array of creams and soaps. First, the creams. I bowl lathered Proraso, Penhaligon's Blenheim Bouquet, Musgo Real and Castle Forbes Lavender. The 57 had no problem generating gobs of thick, slick lather in the bowl, and the shave I had with Musgo Real was one of the best I have had since I started DE shaving. I will bowl or face lather a soap depending on how the spirit moves me in the morning. I bowl lathered Gold-Dachs, AoS Lavender and Penhaligon's tallow-first English Fern. It did not take much effort at all to whip up enough lather of each for 4+ passes. I face lathered Valobra several times, vintage Old Spice, and in a final test, Mitchell's Wool Fat. At first, the scritchiness of the 57 did not make for a great face lathering experience, but then I'm used to really soft tips on Rooney Heritage brushes. Over the course of two weeks, the tips did soften up a bit, and by the time I got to MWF, face lathering wasn't a problem. The MWF shave was excellent, and I knew the lather was good because it was very protective with an open comb NEW Deluxe, which I am only three shaves into. One additional really nice thing about the 57 was the fact that it is not a lather hog. I had no problem getting access to the lather on passes 3 and 4.

Price and Value, where to start? At $130, the 57 is far from the cheapest Best badger brush out there. Considering that you can get Size 1 Rooneys in the 1, 2 or 3 handle styles and Super badger (equivalent to Simpson Best) for $75, there are better values out there. That said, the 57 is a far denser brush than Size 1 Rooneys (compared with my experience using a 2/1), and the handle just feels more solid in the hand. Is it 2x better? No, but brush love is always a subjective thing, so I have to say no, I didn't overpay for the 57.

The Fifty Series generally, and 57 in particular will never by as widely used as its more famous brethren. It deserves to be. My first experience with a Simpson brush has been very positive, and I like having taken the Simpson road less traveled. If one is looking for a mid-size step up between the $75 and $150 brush price points, give the Fifty Series a look.

Discussion thread for this review found here.

Latest reviews

Pros: Solid, comfortable handle, Simpson's best badger
Cons: None
This is a GEM of a brush! Substantial handle that feels very solid and comfortable for both bowl and face lathering (must admit that I use this one almost exclusively for face lathering). Does an excellent job with each and every soap that I have thrown at it. Dense Simpson's best badger with just enough scritch and excellent backbone. This is a definite keeper for me.
Price
4.00 star(s)
Density
5.00 star(s)
Quality
5.00 star(s)
Ergonomic
5.00 star(s)
Latherability
5.00 star(s)
Softness of Tips
4.00 star(s)
Stiffness of Tips
5.00 star(s)
Simpson brushes are well-known around these parts, and for good reason. Their reputation as high quality products is well deserved. A quick stroll through the SOTD thread is guaranteed to give the viewer an eyeful of classic Simpson brushes: Chubby, Persian Jar, Major, Wee Scot, to name just a few. SBAD is sure to inspire desire for a Simpson brush at one time or another, and I readily admit to being as susceptible to SBAD as the next guy. The last time it struck, I had planned to sate it with a Plisson, but instead followed good advice from Antique Hoosier, a veteran B&Ber who knows his brushes, to consider a Simpson instead, and one of the lesser known varieties at that.After doing some research, I settled on the Simpson Fifty models. They come in five different flavors, with knot sizes ranging from 18 mm to a beastly 25. I elected to go down the middle, and selected the "57" with a 22 mm knot and 45 mm loft. Simpson only offers the Fifties in Best Badger, which is equivalent to the Super Silvertip of my much-loved Rooneys. After scouring the web for some time, I found the Fifty series to only be carried as regular stock by Shoebox Shave Shop (here). Gary was kind enough to inquire of Simpson/Vulfix if a custom 57 in Super could be obtained, but it was unfortunately a no go. In my development as a traditional wet shaver, I have come to the conclusion that I prefer brushes with smaller knots, and my personal favorite is the Rooney Heritage Beehive, Size 1, with its 21 mm knot. You can view a side by side comparison here. A few things to note, the tips of the Rooney are noticeably whiter than those of the 57, perhaps reflecting the uniqueness of the Rooney's special grade of Super two-band hair found in the Heritages. Tip color was not the only difference, though. The knots of both brushes have excellent backbone. They are resilient, without being stiff. When dry, both brushes have very scritchy tips, but the 57 remains fairly scritchy when wet. The knot of the 57 is very dense, much more so than the Rooney. The quality has been outstanding, as well. With my Rooneys (as well as a Shavemac and Vulfix), each has shed a bit at the beginning, and then a hair here or there periodically. The 57 has not shed a single hair after two weeks of constant use, which is pretty good in my book.As noted above, the different varieties of Simpson brushes reflect their handles. Chubbies, Persian Jars, Keyholes, etc, are pretty obviously named. What does Fifty mean, let alone 57? Well, I don't know, but with two halves divided by a center ring, with the top half modestly tapering in until it hits the ring, and a concave lower portion, we have a handle that is not easily named. The plastic resin feels very solid in the hand, almost heavy, and the ergonomics are excellent. The lower half fits my average sized hands very well, and makes whipping up a bowl of lather or face lathering fairly easy.Lathering is what it's all about, and I tested the brush in a variety of conditions with an array of creams and soaps. First, the creams. I bowl lathered Proraso, Penhaligon's Blenheim Bouquet, Musgo Real and Castle Forbes Lavender. The 57 had no problem generating gobs of thick, slick lather in the bowl, and the shave I had with Musgo Real was one of the best I have had since I started DE shaving. I will bowl or face lather a soap depending on how the spirit moves me in the morning. I bowl lathered Gold-Dachs, AoS Lavender and Penhaligon's tallow-first English Fern. It did not take much effort at all to whip up enough lather of each for 4+ passes. I face lathered Valobra several times, vintage Old Spice, and in a final test, Mitchell's Wool Fat. At first, the scritchiness of the 57 did not make for a great face lathering experience, but then I'm used to really soft tips on Rooney Heritage brushes. Over the course of two weeks, the tips did soften up a bit, and by the time I got to MWF, face lathering wasn't a problem. The MWF shave was excellent, and I knew the lather was good because it was very protective with an open comb NEW Deluxe, which I am only three shaves into. One additional really nice thing about the 57 was the fact that it is not a lather hog. I had no problem getting access to the lather on passes 3 and 4.Price and Value, where to start? At $130, the 57 is far from the cheapest Best badger brush out there. Considering that you can get Size 1 Rooneys in the 1, 2 or 3 handle styles and Super badger (equivalent to Simpson Best) for $75, there are better values out there. That said, the 57 is a far denser brush than Size 1 Rooneys (compared with my experience using a 2/1), and the handle just feels more solid in the hand. Is it 2x better? No, but brush love is always a subjective thing, so I have to say no, I didn't overpay for the 57.The Fifty Series generally, and 57 in particular will never by as widely used as its more famous brethren. It deserves to be. My first experience with a Simpson brush has been very positive, and I like having taken the Simpson road less traveled. If one is looking for a mid-size step up between the $75 and $150 brush price points, give the Fifty Series a look.Discussion thread for this review found here.
Price
3.00 star(s)
Density
4.00 star(s)
Quality
4.00 star(s)
Ergonomic
4.00 star(s)
Latherability
4.00 star(s)
Softness of Tips
3.00 star(s)
Stiffness of Tips
4.00 star(s)

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