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Historical Question: Shaving Gear In British East Africa?

As some of you may know, or can deduct by my signature, I was born a British Colonial.

I am 53 years old and was born in 1957 on my grandfather's ranch in The Kenya Colony, British East Africa.

I would love to recreate a shave that my grandfather or father might have experienced back in "the day".

So, what might a typical middle-class British settler have used to shave with in 1957?

A British Gillette Rocket? An Ever-Ready SE? Either of those or something else entirely different?

What about shaving creams, soaps and aftershave?

I am thinking Yardley (more than likely). If so, which Yardley products? Perhaps others, such as the "Three T" British soap manufacturers that we are familiar with today?

Wilkinson Sword blades?

They might have used a straight razor for all I know, but giving the benefit of the doubt, I am looking for what might have been "the latest and greatest" available at that time in that part of the world.


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Any reply by me would be rampant speculation, but I hope somebody will pitch in. What I find very annoying, is that by the time we are old enough to wonder about such things, the people we would like to ask are long gone.

Barring any real input, we can always go with on the low end the 40s style Rocket (Aristocrat Jr.) and on the high end a #16 for a DE.

Being a colony at the time, the UK made Gillettes had preferential customs treatment. You are a little too early for the Wilkinson's Stainless and the Gillette Super Blue Blade (I think just a year or so for the UK-made Blue Extra). Most likely, he would have used the Gillette Blue Blades and a U.K. made Gillette Razor. Gillette had a huge market share at the time IIRC. Of course, the Wardonia and other Sheffield makers were around, and went after the bargain market (and probably the colonial market as well).
An interesting idea. With an Australian perspective, I'd say it would depend dramatically on where the station (rather than ranch, which I understand is an American term) was and who your Grandfather was.

My grandfather used a straight well into the 1950s because he was often in places where razor blades were a luxury item that had to compete with tea, coffee, whiskey and tobacco for shipping space. I suspect he rarely if ever used a proper shaving soap. If he did it would have been something cheap and locally made.

If your Grandad was colonial born and the station remote, I suspect he may have done the same. If he was English and upper class, he may have insisted on better if he could get it, but would have had to use what was at hand when he couldn't.

In that era we had a lot of locally made Gillettes and Gillette copies, along with English made ones. I picked up something locally made called a "Best British Razor" as part of an eBay lot. It was unused and included a pack of Sheffield made blades.

I suspect you'd not go far wrong with any 50s, or better still 40s military issue, British made Gillette copy, a period Sheffield made blade and ordinary Lifeboy or carbolic soap. Shave on the back porch in a hanging mirror with luke warm water and while wearing a broad brimmed felt hat. That should complete the picture.
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