Best of the ‘Common’ vintage straights

Discussion in 'General Straight Razor Talk' started by Dzaw, Apr 15, 2019 at 2:21 PM.

    So, there are some names I see a lot more than others. I am sure there are probably a couple of thousand grinders who would pop up in any attempt at cataloguing vintage razor grinders, the history is so darned long, and there were so many places making and exporting razors, etc.

    Nonetheless, I see a lot of discussion and inventory of some much more often. Henkels, puma, dubl duck, ERN, Filarmonica, etc. the more common vintage straights.

    Of the more common razors, is there a notable quality difference? I am not -only- talking about the steel (though hardness, edge retention, ease of honing, etc, are all very important) but also about things like the care with which scales were fit up, wedged, blade centered, pins and fittings applied and peened, scale material, etc. etc. etc.

    For example, I passed on a vintage 4/8 with a heavy grind the other day. It was in superb shape, very clean, no pitting, and the little bit of rust was not near the pivot nor the bevel. I was quite intrigued, but the tip kept hitting the wedge on its way by, both opening and closing. That struck me as distinctly sub optimal, and either a sign that it had been inexpertly re scales, or poorly designed to begin with.

    With so many choices, are some just plain better than others? Is there a guide or way to tell? Do I have to become a historian of razor lore or take a crapshoot with unknown small makers and hope they’re one of the good ones?
  1. I have a couple Geneva, NY razors that are great shavers. While I would love a double duck, there are many lesser known razors that perform extremely well.

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  2. There were definitely luxury lines where the materials and presentation where top class versus the basic lines. However I wouldn't be surprised if scales were more or less available amongst most grinders/manufacturers.

    a tip hitting a wedge is easily fixed and could also be due to materials shrinking/warping with age but it was probably ok when it was made. I think you'll be okay with any of the vintage blades, as long as the temper is good, the dimensions are ok. It'll be a personal decision if you like a particular regions metal, grind, shape, size, etc.
  3. When I was putting my collection together I looked for British, German. 5/8. 6/8, American steel, shoulderless, and of course Ivoroid or ivory color scales.

    The brands I wanted were John Holler, Wade and Butcher, J.R. Torrey, razors from Fremont, Ohio, Herder, German exporter M. Jung, pre merger Geneva, and pre 1892 McKinely Tariff Wade and Butcher.

    Just some razors for you to consider!!! :thumbsup::thumbup::thumbup1:
  4. Its pretty hard not to go with your gut as youve already learned.....for me first and foremost is the has to catch my eye...them the blade type/size....then the condition....if all is good, including price of course, i buy it. Generally i dont buy chinese razors (gold dollars are probably the exception) and brand doesnt matter as there was lots of cross labeling going on just like today.

    I also seek out razors from different countries and try to own at least one from there which makes a collection pretty versatile.....hence not worrying about brands so much.
  5. Wade&Butcher, Bismarck, Bengall
  6. Putting together your collection is fun.
  7. It sure is. I was just hoping for some level of “keep an eye out for X, but don’t bother with Y”.

    It seems aside from condition issues and size/ grind preferences, there doesn’t seem to be much to recommend certain options over one another.

    Well, that should make a bit more of an interesting process. It sure means a lot more antique shop stops ;)
  8. I figure with the demands of the professional barbers most of the razors from the major makers were excellent.

    5/8 seems to have been the most popular based on present availability. 6/8 is my favorite next to 5/8.
  9. dont bother with pakistan made “damascus” PWS RSOs. Take caution with OEM chinese current models if you dont have the resources to get them to real ready.

    the thing is once someone with a following says that a mark/model is really nice, there is a huge market uptick in them. they probably are nice but not much nicer than any ither vintage in that same style.

    some days i like to use extra hollow, some i like near wedges, i tend to like 6/8s and above but will dip into 5/8+s once in a while, but i’ll leave all the 4/8s and below at the table.

    but whats good is personal preference.
  10. Legion

    Legion Moderator Emeritus

    With vintage I’d say condition is usually more important than brand.
  11. Since so much of it is personal preference, until you can answer those questions based on your own experience I wouldn't pay too much for any single razor.

    If you don't pay too much and if you pay more attention to the condition, eventually you will find out what you prefer and you can resell those you don't care for without losing much money (if any).

    I eventually found 6 or 7 that I liked the look of in the sizes that I like. I sold all my others that I learned on. It's also a good idea to learn the basics of repairing and cleaning razors IMO.

    As was mentioned above somewhere, it's likely that the razor that you found that wasn't centered correctly was due to the scales warping with age and not upon manufacture.
  12. It really depends on your budget. I'm more a user than collector so I rather have great shaving blades than fanciful razor... That and I'm a little cheap lol, my razors range between $30-82, cept for a $150 razor that was PIFed to me.

    I was told by a reliable source that the old English wedges like a W&B can warp and I experienced one such purchase myself.

    The blades that I would consider underrated but excellent: Red Imp, Herder, Bengall, ERN, most singing razors like a those stamped with Hamburg ring.

    To me if I had to restart my collection and I wanted a great shaving razor it'll be a 13/16 singing razor from bengall.
  13. Heljestrand blades are fantastic.
  14. If you come across a Bengall, get it!
  15. Yes, They are exceptional razors
  16. I have a couple of MoDoSo razors and they are far better than you would expect for razors costing £15/20.

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