This Wade and Butcher razor was already an old-fashioned design when it was made in the early 1800's. The blade on this razor has a similar shape as the triangular shankless razors of the revolutionary war era - though this razor does have a shank it's little more than a spot where the edge has been ground off. The toe is nearly an inch in width, the heel is about 6/8 of an inch. This is not due to hone wear, the razor is actually ground with a taper towards the tail. The razor manufacturers had not yet perfected the hollow grind, so to reduce weight they simply milled out the sides of the blade to make a narrow wedge, and left the spine intact in order to preserve the honing angle. Earlier razors had been made with this design but used a thin wedge blade with a separate brass spine brazed on to the blade. By the time this razor was made the Sheffield manufacturers had discovered how to cast steel, which reduced the work and wastage required for this process and made it feasible to produce a one-piece frameback. This frameback grind means the cross-sectional profile of this razor resembles a "T" (it's actually very close to the Tennessee Titans football team logo).
Ergonomically, this razor really shows its age. This razor was made during an era when the average height of an adult male was around 5'2", and the dimensions of the shank and tail reflect this. There's just enough room on the shank for your thumb, but the two fingers on the top of the shank tend to ride over the blade itself, and the ring finger is a cramped fit in the curl of the tail.
When I got it, it was in nearly the same shape as you see here. There was some patina that I took off with some flitz, and a small patch on the shank that was removed with sandpaper. The brass pivot pin was a little loose, though a few taps with a ball-peen hammer tightened it up. The lead end wedge was still tightly held in place, but I gave that pin a few taps as well for good measure. The scales appear to be some type of wood.
The blade has a slight smile to it which means the razor must be honed with a rocking motion on the hone, and a very light touch at all times. It took maybe a half hour to remove the weak steel at the edge of the blade (really old razors tend to have weak steel at the bevel because the oxygen absorbed over many decades tends to oxidize the steel internally). Once good steel was exposed I honed it with the Norton 4k and 8k, then the Shapton 15k, and it was hair-popping sharp within maybe 10 minutes. Like most vintage Sheffield razors, it was very easy to hone. It seems to keep an edge slightly better than my other Sheffield razors. Like other Sheffield razors, this one loves the boron carbide paddle.
Archaic ergonomics aside, it shaves like a dream. The blade is extremely stiff and takes a very keen edge, and it simply mows through the toughest beard like it doesn't exist. The strange taper to the blade gives the razor a built-in snowplow effect which also helps the razor take on heavy beards. The wide 8/8 toe holds enough lather to shave half your face, and the comparatively narrow 6/8 heel is very handy for shaving the chin and upper lip.
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