I just picked up a Hoffritz slant on d'Bay and am now wondering what the plating is so I can choose the best cleanup method. This is what I bought:
I often wonder about this as well.
I've read several different explanations of what the handles are plated with but I have no idea which is correct. I've also read that when new the vintage Hoffritz/Merkurs did not have the whitewash oxidation on the handle...not sure of this either.
One explanation is that the handles are silver-plated but they sure don't get covered in black tarnish like any other silver plated items I have that I know are silver-plated, include a couple of razors. Nickel plating tends to tarnish black as well...though not as easily as silver. Another explanation is that the whitewash is painted or lacquered onto the handle.
Still another explanation I found from someone who seemed to know what he was talking about was they are plated with "white nickel." A quick google search shows that white nickel doesn't even contain nickel...it's a mixture of Tin/Copper/Zinc. The natural oxidation of white nickel over time is apparently what gives the handle it's whitewashed appearance. If it is "white nickel" I don't know which of the three metals would be most likely to oxidize but this seems to make some sense because zinc oxide is is powdery white substance insoluble in water. But, I'm just not sure. Could it be both silver plated with a thin layer of white nickel plated over it to keep the silver from oxidizing? I read that silver is often covered with a very thin layer of rhodium for this reason.
Anyway, I've had two or three vintage Hoffritz and Merkur razors with dark stains on the whitewashed handles and none of the stains were removed with Scrubbing Bubbles, ultrasonic cleaner, or polished out with silver polish. The only way I was able to remove the stains was to put the razor in a vibratory tumbler filled with crushed walnut shell/crushed corn cob media for about an hour. It came out looking like a brand new razor with a bright white metal plating. Both the stains and the whitewash oxidation completely gone.
I have a 1940' Slant Merkur. Basically the same thing as your new razor. The finish is called a silver finish. I have some literature, but I'm traveling right now. I'll be more than happy to forward it to you in a few days.
I'm thinking I agree with you about the white coating - and beautiful Hoff!
Thanks for adding to the knowledge base, Oel! Do you know any way to date these razors?I own several Merkur slant razors with all the different brandings like Hoffritz, Pomco, Coles etc.
I can say that they changed the plating on their razors over the decades. Remember that these slant razors were made for more than 70 decades! Early models had nickel plated handles, later they plated them with silver and the white silver knurling. Late Hoffritz slant razors for example had a chrome plated handle then like the current production Merkur razors. There were also gold plated razors as well.
On the silver plated handles it was the same like on the gold plated Gillette TTO's: There was a thin clear laquer that sealed the plating and when it came off the handles started to tarnish. So, if you ever get your fingers on a minty Merkur slant razor with all the different brandings avoid to clean or polish the handle with aggressive chemicals.
Once the handle shows some tarnishing the banking soda / aluminium foil method is probably the first method to get that thing shiny again. You could also try to get it shiny again with a non abrasive polish but use it carefully.