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AutoStrop/Valet Razors: A Typology in 13 Parts

Received my VC1 today, thought it was broke, was looking for a swinging door. Then I figured out how to load the blade. Will use in the morning, probably with a GEM blade first.
Glad I'm not the only one who initially struggled with trying to swing open their VC1's nonexistent door.


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Bumping this thread after picking up a cased A1, I believe. 2017-08-06 15.20.03.jpg 2017-08-06 15.19.12.jpg
Lots of good info here. Thank you!
If that handle is integral to the head and not detatchable, A1 indeed and congrats for that!

Look for the A2 next. Harder to find. Lugged neck on the handle.
Looks like a VB1. From what I know, some have blade stops that stop the blade and then there's yours that don't stop the blade. Yours is somewhat an adjustable.
Thanks Rabidus, for your quick reply. At first I thought it a VC1 b/c of the lack of notches requiring VLet blade and the way the blade loads, but different handle than the VC1 and says Valet on the blade holder instead of AutoStrop.
The various types of Valet/AutoStrop razors confuse people, and with good reason. There are 10 basic types of razors in this family, leaving aside minor variations in handles, country of production, finishes, and kits. It’s a lot, and the variations can be subtle.

These razors were produced for only about 40 years, from 1906 to 1946. But they were revolutionary in this regard: They gave us Henry Gaisman, inventor of the Probak razor, whose patents forced Gillette into a merger with AutoStrop in 1930, a merger which left Gaisman in effective control of Gillette. Ultimately the Gillette model (“no stropping”) of disposable blade won out, but AutoStrop was a big player. And these are cool little razors, mechanically complex, in 10 basic types.


I’m going to try in the 12 posts to follow to sort that all out with a basic typology, describing with photos the 10 basic types of Valet/AutoStrop razors to help folks identify which is which.

I’m not going more than 10 deep. So I’m not going to describe the differences between a Canadian VC2 and an American one. Or a VC4 from England in a gold wash vs. an American VC4 in nickel. And I’m not photographing mint condition sets and cases. Just the basics here.

The descriptions, dates and typology nomenclature come mostly from Robert K. Waits, A Safety Razor Compendium (2014). The model numbers are his, not those of the Valet/AutoStrop. But people have come to recognize his model numbers as helpful, so I’ll use them.

And I’ll use the term, Valet/AutoStrop, to refer to these razors. They were just “AutoStrop” for the first 4 models until 1921. After that the company called them “Valet AutoStrop” razors, presumably for the marketing cachet. Technically, the older razors aren’t “Valets”, but rather AutoStrops. That’s a fine point that reflects nothing other than updated branding in 1921.

If you are a razor geek, sit back and relax.

One post about the 10 types, 10 more posts describing each type, then a final post about blades (since that too confuses folks).
Thank You for the excellent thread. I found a B1 in a local shop with the case and purchased an V3 that came with a strop in excellent condition.