Gem Razor Models

Discussion in 'Single Edged Razors' started by Ron R, Nov 7, 2018.

Pic the Gem you like shaving with. Multiple choices allowed!

  1. Gem lather catcher

    26 vote(s)
  2. Gem Junior

    28 vote(s)
  3. Gem 1912 Damaskeene

    51 vote(s)
  4. Gem Mico Matic Clog proof

    42 vote(s)
  5. Gem Micro Matic Bullet handle(Flying wing)

    30 vote(s)
  6. Gem Micro Matic Open Comb

    56 vote(s)
  7. Gem Push button

    19 vote(s)
  8. Gem G-Bar

    33 vote(s)
  9. Gem Feather Weight

    18 vote(s)
  10. Gem Contour

    6 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. GlazedBoker

    GlazedBoker Contributor

    Thanks for the info and the subsequent post concerning the GEM timeline. I’ve tried an MMOC and found it just a tad bit harsh. An excellent and extremely efficient shaver it is but, one that for me I could not use on a daily basis. The Clog-Pruf is the best compromise of efficiency and smoothness and allows me to use it on a daily basis if I wanted to. Of course, these are just my experiences with these two. The Contour has just a nice retro-look coolness about it. The all Stainless Steel construction with the black rubber grip on half of the razor just makes it different and stand out imo. The cap closure is rock solid and I find it to be a mild, smooth yet deceptively efficient razor. A 3 pass shave plus some tiny buffing always brings out the baby with the Contour with never an issue with irritation.
  2. This is nice to hear -- a Contour came into my possession in a razor lot I picked up months ago. I've been working my through my many (way too many) acquisitions, and since I tend to like older versus newer razors, I had put the Contour towards the bottom of the list. I am now moving that razor up towards the top, and looking forward to giving it a try. Thanks for the inspiration!!!
  3. There's not enough love for the Contour. I don't personally have one but it is very cool looking and, sharing the same head with the Feather Weight, it should shave just the same. Maybe people associate the Gem brand with the classic lines of the iconic 1912 or the MMOC and the Contour looks "too" modern. I enjoy the '60s-'70s vibe nevertheless.
  4. I agree. While I do not have a Contour, I very much enjoy using both the G Bar and the Push Button models. In fact, I do not find that much difference between the various models as they all a capable of delivering exceptional service.
  5. Tonight when I was hunting vintage catalogs I've found this peculiar 1922 Masonic Damaskeene set.
    Wow, quite some collectables!
  6. Ron R

    Ron R Contributor

    That is a interesting ad, I was trying to find out what the coating was on my Damaskeene open comb 1912-15 and that was inconclusive, it looks similar to my Gillette razors that are Nickel coated yet I'm not 100% positively sure, GEM used chrome on their later models according to ads. This confirms my suspicion that my 1912-15 Damaskeene OC is a nickel alloy. If we had a metal analyzer it would confirm this positively and they are out there in industrial scene but for a hobbyist the price of one is $25,000 + so we can keep guessing more cost effectively.
    The Gem Junior bar also looks like a Nickel coating alloy?
  7. It's hard to say. In this 1907 print ad it mentions the nickel plate frame, handle and stropper:
    1907_Gem junior.jpg

    On the other hand, this ad from the same year mentions the silver-plated frame.

    1907_Gem junior#2.jpg
  8. Nickel-plating gets my vote for the early GEMs....although their color/finish looks a little different/off from my nickel Gillettes....perhaps it's the process or the nickel alloy used. At one time I had it in my head to start learning the history of metal-plating in hopes that it would shine a light on what was "common" back in the day. The little bit of investigation I did showed that plating seemed to gain popularity in the early to mid 1800's, and while nickel plating was prevalent, people were constantly experimenting with different methods and materials -- lots of would-be inventors during the industrial age. By the mid to late 1800's most had adopted a fairly "standard" electro-chemical process...bottom line was I gave up on that approach to finding what early razors (like my Kampfe Latcher Catchers) were plated/coated with, although I think nickel (or mostly nickel alloys) are the most likely candidates.
  9. Good job with those ads....hard to completely trust marketing copy (I say as a career marketing guy), but I suspect the features listed in those ads were more descriptive and perhaps less hyperbole. I wondered if the "silver nickel-plating" was really referring to a silver-colored nickel plating....or if they threw some silver in with the nickel to alter the color and give it less of a yellow tinge.
  10. Last night I literally strike gold in my search for vintage ads. In the quest to solve the Gem plating mistery this new variant comes in play: "German" silver plated frame and nickel plated handle.

    From a 1915 hardware store catalog, the Damaskeene Open Comb, the info Ron was after:
  11. I have literally no clue about metals and their properties. Knowing I may say some heresy, I ask if it was possible to create a Nickel alloy adding some silver? This might be the most viable option. They also mention in various ads a "triple" plating: would have been possible to lay a double layer of nickel then a third layer of silver above the nickel?
  12. This is an excerpt of another 1917 hardware wholesale catalog.
    Interesting to see they were still selling Open Comb Damaskeene razors in 1917.
    But what caught my attention was that previously unseen luxury gold "triple-plated" closed comb Damaskeene with the "Ivorite" Chatsworth styled handle. At $6,70 wholesale price per unit, it was quite an expensive razor at the time.
    This could be the ultimate unicorn in vintage Gem razors collecting! :a47:

  13. Ron R

    Ron R Contributor

    The triple gold plated Damaskeene closed comb would be a rare find today, I have never seen one and now we know that they are out there in collections or possible gone because gold is soft and blemishes to base metal faster than nickel would.
    GREAT find @mata_66 and its nice to see my razor in one of the ads also. Silver frame & nickel coated handle together to make the razor.
    Have some great shaves!
  14. I have never heard of gold plated Damaskeene 'til now, less with that gorgeous faux ivory handle. I guess the price tag discouraged many at that time and not many sets were sold. Yet, no literature, no mentions nor pictures.
    An almost legendary white whale. I believe the thick gold plating would have survived in the hand of the caring original owner. I have gold plated razors only a couple of decades younger still in a pristine state.
  15. The handle seems the same as this rare 1907-1909 Gem Junior Bar. Usually the Junior bar came with a slightly different shaped 'ebonite" (black) handle:

    Surely Faux Ivory looks good on any Gem razor!
    Here's a custom batonesque handle by Doug Korn's Workshop:
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
  16. Really good questions. I should say that I am definitely not a metal-worker at all, so the short answer is I don't know. But as I'm always happy to speak out of my, um....ear....I did do a quick search and found some information that suggested that plating silver over nickel would be pretty difficult and potentially short-lived. A base metal of copper (or diluted copper, like brass) seems to be best. Not to say it can't be done, or that our great-/grandfathers wouldn't have figured it out, but I'm guessing they would want the finish to be durable, otherwise they risked a "better" competitor stealing their customer if the razor became disfigured/discolored with normal use.

    So strange to see things made so well that over 100 years later they not only function as they did when made, but also look almost the same they did back then as well.
  17. I agree. They were truly highly talented craftsmen building these razors.
  18. One of the things I think I remember from undergraduate chemistry is that for plating to work well the "valences" or electrical charges of the atoms have to be congenial. So for nickel plating one starts with a layer of copper, followed by a layer of chromium, then applying the nickel plating.

    And THAT answers the question of what "triple-plated" means!

    You can see how chrome became popular: put on a thicker layer and you don't have to spend the time and money to put on the nickel. Ooooh, shiny!

    I'm sure there were different formulations/alloys of nickel for plating, some of which may have been designed to obviate one or another additional layer in the process.

  19. Very interesting, thanks!!!
  20. A 1911 Gem Cutlery Co. Booklet

    A0651-2.jpg A0651-3.jpg A0651-4.jpg A0651-5.jpg A0651-6.jpg A0651-7.jpg A0651-8.jpg A0651-9.jpg A0651-10.jpg A0651-11.jpg

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