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Date Codes on WWII Bakelite Techs?

I was watching a (now ended) eBay auction for a WWII Tech with a Bakelite handle and blade guard, since I have a similar one in my collection.

In the description there was an interesting entry: "Raised Lettering on bottom of Blade Holder: Gillette Logo, O 4, Made In U. S. A." What caught my eye was the "O 4". That sure looks like a date code format, but we know that date codes didn't start on razors until 1950 with the V3 marking. I looked at one of the auction's accompanying pictures and sure enough there was an "O" and a "4" top and bottom center, just as the seller described.

So I looked at mine and was surprised to see an "O" and a "3" in the same positions (see pictures 1 and 2 below).

I clicked over to Renaldo's page and sure enough "O" was the code for 1944 camouflaged blades and the lettering sequence (minus "Q") is consistent up to "V" in 1950.

Then I clicked over to Mr. Razor's page and found his with an "O 4" code, as well (picture 3).

Now I'm wondering: Does anyone have a Bakelite Tech with an "O 1" or "O 2" code on the blade guard? Is this just a coincidence or did Gillette date code the Bakelite Tech razors for some reason in 1944? If they're not date codes, does anyone know what they represent?

Pictures 1 and 2: "O 3" code from my WWII Bakelite Tech
$IMG_0402.jpg$IMG_0405.jpg

Picture 3: "O 4" code from Mr. Razor's Tech page:
$1941-1945 WWII plastic Tech.jpg
 
I too have an O3 bakelite Gillette Tech identical to yours (but no case) that belonged to either my father (in the Army) or perhaps my grandfather (back home). I've always assumed it was from the war years and that bakelite was used due to metals rationing. Of special interest to me is that, if O3 is a date code and means Q3 of 1944, that would correspond to the weeks Dad was in combat in France, and his first weeks in hospitals after coming to the attention of a German sniper. My best guess is that he acquired the razor during that rehabilitation phase and later tossed it in a drawer after lots of use (the metal cap's finish is fairly worn). I know he replaced it by at least 1952, though, because I also inherited a gold Tech with parallel slots.

Regarding the O3 on the underside of the bakelite blade holder, I figure it must be a date code, right? Even though Gillette didn't start stamping year and quarter codes until 1951, I note that they began that process with the letter W, meaning that letter-year codes were somehow used internally at least as early as the 1930s. And from what I know of wartime manufacturing, regulations and records-keeping, it would make sense that Gillette would choose (or be directed) to physically identify when the razor was made.

Anyway, I enjoy using Dad's old Tech now and then, and thinking about all it's been through. FR
 
I too have an O3 bakelite Gillette Tech identical to yours (but no case) that belonged to either my father (in the Army) or perhaps my grandfather (back home). I've always assumed it was from the war years and that bakelite was used due to metals rationing. Of special interest to me is that, if O3 is a date code and means Q3 of 1944, that would correspond to the weeks Dad was in combat in France, and his first weeks in hospitals after coming to the attention of a German sniper. My best guess is that he acquired the razor during that rehabilitation phase and later tossed it in a drawer after lots of use (the metal cap's finish is fairly worn). I know he replaced it by at least 1952, though, because I also inherited a gold Tech with parallel slots.

Regarding the O3 on the underside of the bakelite blade holder, I figure it must be a date code, right? Even though Gillette didn't start stamping year and quarter codes until 1951, I note that they began that process with the letter W, meaning that letter-year codes were somehow used internally at least as early as the 1930s. And from what I know of wartime manufacturing, regulations and records-keeping, it would make sense that Gillette would choose (or be directed) to physically identify when the razor was made.

Anyway, I enjoy using Dad's old Tech now and then, and thinking about all it's been through. FR

Thank goodness the sniper wasn't too good. That generation (which included both of my Grandfathers) are truly, The Greatest Generation.
 
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