History Of Shavettes?

Discussion in 'General Straight Razor Talk' started by mjclark, May 3, 2018.

    What is the history of the shavette?Although they’re sometimes thought of as the poor relation of straight razors I absolutely love them.

    I know this term properly applies only to the Dovo barbers equipment and I think they invented the word “shavette”
    But I’m talking about all disposable blade open razors, Weck, Hess, Parker, Artist Club etc

    The origins of shavettes must lie with the seven-day straight razor sets of the 19th Century which developed into seven-blade sets with a single set of scales.
    I’ve seen interchangeable blade framebacks from France and also Yorkshire Steel Company in England.

    And then Edward Weck in New York came up with the Sextoblade which is essentially a disposable blade 5/8 frameback.
    Weck’s family emigrated from Solingen so he was very familiar with straight razors as well as the newly emerging disposable blade technology.
    Put the two together and you have the first shavette.

    At about the same time Durham Duplex literature suggested shaving with their blades in the stropping attachment as an “ordinary open razor” so they also have a legitimate claim to the invention of the idea.

    From then on men must have shaved with DE blades in the stropping handles etc but who made the first proper DE blade shavettes and when?

    And where does Artist Club fit in?
    When were those long Injector Blades developed?
    And what about the Hess connection?
    Was that the first open razor to use the standard Schick Injector Blades?

    What does a shavette timeline look like? What IS the story between the Weck Sextoblade and the Focus Slim?
  1. This is vague about the Artist Club but gives background on the company.
    A Brief History of the Feather Safety Razor Company
    Similarly this time line for Kai:
    KAI Group
  2. Thank you for the links - that is very interesting indeed!
    I wonder if Artist Club Blades were around for a long time in Japan maybe even from the 1950’s?
  3. The way I read it was that the Artist Club is a more recent thing implied by their focus on the professional market this century.

    It seems that they were focusing on Valet Autostrop blades and then were caught off guard by the Schick Persona format.

    I think someone needs to write to Jatai and Kai to see if they will provide some information (I don't mind doing it over the weekend).
  4. Yes that would be awesome if you are happy to contact Feather and Kai!
    This discussion is going somewhere exciting...
  5. Interestingly to me, when I bought my Feather AS-D2 in 2014, it was sold to me as the "Seki Edge Feather All Stainless Steel Double Edge Safety Razor (AS-D2)". I did not know until today that Seki is where the Kai group was founded in 1908, or that Feather descended from Nippon Safety Razor, which itself descended from Seki Safety Razor. -- Thanks to you both.
  6. I have always been interested in:
    1) reasons for the punch through holes in the blades, whether they were present originally or added later. Since they are unnecessary for the AC blade holders. They must have thought about producing a single edge safety razor.
    2) evolution of blade types. It seems obvious that the Professional blade would have been manufactured day one. But what about the Super Pro and Pro-Guard, I could imagine those being added later in response to customer feedback. I could be mistaken but I believe the Light and Soft Guard are more recent additions as I do not remember seeing them 10 years ago.
  7. Inspired by @Seveneighth suggestion I emailed Feather and asked them about the Artist Club blades and here’s their reply:

    “Dear Mr. Clark,

    Thank you very much for your e-mail dated May 4.
    It is our pleasure to hear from you that our products bring you much shaving
    pleasure and satisfaction.

    In reply to your question, our Professional Blades were launched in early
    70s together with the first razor to use these blades.
    However, the first razor was already discontinued and no longer available.

    We hope this will answer your question.
    We thank you very much for your interest in our products and we hope you
    will enjoy your shaving with our products in future as well.

    Best Regards,

    Ayako Tsuchiya
    Overseas Trade Department

    So the Artist Club Blades first appeared in the early 1970’s.
  8. I had the impression, from somewhere, that changes to public health regulations in many jurisdictions in the U.S.A. meant that barbers would have to purchase/install autoclaves and update their training and procedures to sterilize straight razors.
    Instead of going through that hassle, they started using single-use disposable blades in shavettes (which could be simply rinsed out and stored in Barbicide) to give customers the straight-razor experience.
    Or something like that.
  9. Great work!
  10. Yes and I think some regions around the world insist on disposable blades. It would be interesting to note when the regulations were first brought in as part of a time line of shavettes.

    Western Australia:
    Use of razors in the hairdressing industry

    Although the Australian government also have an assessment in honing and stropping straight razors - it appears regulation is state by state.

    One man one blade, described for UK
    Health & safety in a barbershop: A must read for all barbers

    Here's a blog about North America, referring to the use of an autoclave:
    Are Straight Razor Shaves Legal in North America? | FENDRIHAN the blog

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