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100% Genuine Rachto!

Hello all,

The other day, a Simmons brush at an antique mall grabbed my attention. It was all black, from head to toe, and stood quite tall. It would have come home with me, but the $40 price tag exceeded my want for the brush.

The brush had a tall loft. The bristles had, somewhat, the feel of horsehair, though I have never handled a horsehair brush, therefore I am only making an uninformed guess. The brush was firm and the tips felt rather soft against my hand. Today, I found a 1921 advertisement for sale on an auction site which describes the bristles as, "Black Rachto Bristles".

The question that now occupies my thoughts - What is Rachto?

Rachto seems to be a short grade of Chinese boar bristle, introduced ca. 1916. This is from the 1918-08-01 edition of American Cutler. Sorry about the text size, but click through for a zoomable version.

Written by a Rubberset sales manager, the whole article is worth reading. It discusses how WWI blocked access to the bristle and badger hair markets in Germany, making traditional grades of Russian, Polish, and French bristle unavailable. The UK and USA market turned to Chinese black bristle - this Rachto stuff. But at the time the article was written, the UK had decided to block re-export of bristles. Most of the Chinese bristles went to the UK for re-export, so prices were climbing in the USA. The article concludes by urging readers to stick with badger and boar brushes, characterizing horsehair as "utterly devoid of merit". Several months later, early 1919 saw outbreaks of anthrax contracted from horsehair brushes.
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Thank you, that's an interesting article. Basically, that brush was made with the same bristles as a bristle varnish brush. The bristles were thinner than any boar I have, perfectly straight (80+ year old brush), very soft, and no bristles broke when I lightly pressed the brush to my hand.

It seems that many hair brushes are made with the black bristle today. Now I wonder if the bristles from a varnish brush would make a good shaving brush. Sounds like a new project over the next few weeks.
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