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Questions on a seven day set from C.V. Heljestrand

Hi everyone,

I am posting here as a new member (and totally newbie to the world of straight razors), as following some research on Google it seems to be the best place to ask questions about C.V. Heljestrand (I've read that a certain Polarbeard is the master of knowledge ;) ).

So, here's the story:

Years ago I have inherited from my grandfather a seven day set from the brand "C.V. Heljestrand".

The razors have the names of the days engraved on the back of the blade (I assume they are written in Swedish) and ivory handles (I assume), two of which are unfortunately split. Below the brand name are the words "Ekilstuna Prisbelönt". The blades (except for two of them) are engraved with city names and dates, as well as the "flat part" where there is a notch for the fingers (pardon my lack of technical vocabulary :D ).

On the "flat part" (on one of the razors) I read: 1867, Paris 1855, Stockholm 1866, London 1857. On the blade it is more difficult to read (it seems they have been fairly used), but I can distinguish Paris 1866-186[7], Bogota 1874, Stockholm 1866, Philadelphia 18[76] + some other incomplete names.

There is a symbol in the middle of the blade, masonic style. On the curved edge of the blade, the inscriptions "Dannemora Gjustal". The whole thing is in a leather box, with no inscriptions.

My grandfather was born in Hungary and was part of the aristocracy. He flew the country with his family when he was around 16, at the end of WWII when the country was occupied by the USSR. He then went on to live in Belgium for a short while and then moved to Canada (started working on the laying of railways there) and finally came back to Belgium for the rest of his life. I would assume this is a piece of item dating back from his time in Hungary (or maybe from his father). Unfortunately, I did not manage to get any information from him on this set.

Hence, here's why I am now contacting you guys, to see if anyone could help identifying these blades and provide knowledge as to their history, etc. :)

Here are the pictures. Feel free to ask for details.

Cheers

Alex
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This appears to be a lovely set of frameback style razors. As they are from your grandfather, I'm sure their value to you goes beyond any monetary measure. You can hang on to them as a family heirloom, which is a great option. Another great option is to have them professionally cleaned up and honed so that you can shave with them. And I would stick with the cracked scales, unless it really bothers you.

Fantastic set!
 
Those are nice razors. The frameback style was popular in Sweden prior to the turn of the 20th century, several makers made very similar products with similar designs and inscriptions (Engström, Söderén, Dahlgren). Eskilstuna is the name of the town that was the center of tool and cutlery production in Sweden. "Prisbelönt" means "award-winning" and I believe the various cities and dates refer to where and when those awards were given. Dannemora is a mining town in Sweden which was the source for the ore. Gjustål (sometimes it is spelled "gjutstål") means "cast steel."

Definitely a nice heirloom and worth getting cleaned up and honed. That one set of scales looks a little rough. If you were so inclined, someone could make a replica out of bone (cheap) or mammoth ivory (not so cheap), since elephant ivory is rather hard to come by legally these days.
 
They say London 1851 not 1857.
London 1851 was the mother of all Expos.
They are ivory.
They are nice.
Eskilstuna is the place famous for great steel and great blades, where they were made.
Prisbelont means prize winning.
 
(I've read that a certain Polarbeard is the master of knowledge ;) )
Very nice set!

Most important is to stop it deteriorating further, if nothing else, cover the steel with petroleum jelly to stop any further rust. You can then decide if you want to spend some money to have it restored and honed.

You are right, the man with all the knowledge about Swedish razors is Polarbeard. If you want to get someone's attention on the site, just mention them this way @Polarbeard and he will get a notification.
 
Thanks a lot to all of you! That's a lot of incredibly useful information :001_tt1: I knew I was right to post here to find experts! :)

Most important is to stop it deteriorating further, if nothing else, cover the steel with petroleum jelly to stop any further rust. You can then decide if you want to spend some money to have it restored and honed.

That's probably the first thing I should do. Do you have any advice as to how to clean/protect them (easy steps for a layman like me), without risking to damage the ivory?

For the rest, I love them as they are truly beautiful and carry a piece of history with them, but I've had them for more than ten years and they've mostly stayed in the back of a drawer. I have a beard so I only shave in limited areas of my face and if I were to start using a straight razor technique, I'd probably be too scared to use those :D
 
Thanks a lot to all of you! That's a lot of incredibly useful information :001_tt1: I knew I was right to post here to find experts! :)



That's probably the first thing I should do. Do you have any advice as to how to clean/protect them (easy steps for a layman like me), without risking to damage the ivory?

For the rest, I love them as they are truly beautiful and carry a piece of history with them, but I've had them for more than ten years and they've mostly stayed in the back of a drawer. I have a beard so I only shave in limited areas of my face and if I were to start using a straight razor technique, I'd probably be too scared to use those :D
Personally, I wouldn't touch the ivory and as far as I know it doesn't require special treatment to preserve it. Maybe someone with more knowledge about ivory can chime in. A gentle application of neatsfoot oil can do no harm and will stop it drying out.

Active rust, like in some places, will be stopped with oil, something like WD40, Ballistol or just plain motor oil. If you are confident, you can carefully polish most of it off with 0000 ultra fine steel wool. This will not remove all the black oxidation, just the flaky bits.

Longer term preservation will be the petroleum jelly, because it stays on. I will just take care and maybe wrap it in something like wax paper to prevent any stains to the case lining.
 
As mentioned, fine steel wool will remove the active rust and then Renaissance Wax. Use it on both the blade and Ivory, a light buff and it will look after them. Don't change the scales, Ivory is known to split on the old scales, its rare to get a full seven in good condition especially if they have been used. If you do want to use them then find a restorer to clean up the blades and if wanted to replace the damaged scale/s. A split at the pivot is a problem but down at the other end not so much, it could be splinted or stabilised and an exceptional restorer should be able to save the scales. See here ... Restoration

Be warned that ivory is rather delicate and a full restoration will see the blades come up a treat and hopefully the scales remain intact but there are not guarantees. Good luck. IF money permits get them restored, if not stabilise and look at them when the money is available.

Or if in doubt, an application of something like Ballistol on the blades and some wax on the scales and leave them aside. It's really only worth adding the wax once the active rust has been removed. The wax however is great for long term storage, many museums use it on a number of items, swords, ivory, etc.
 
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I am not 100% sure that the scales aren't bone.
The pattern in picture 4, which looks like the side of a piece of lumber,
is something that I've seen in both bone and ivory.
From the top, the scales look atypically thick for ivory
and the pins have collars.

However ...,
I have seen bone complete with obvious haversian canals,
that looked like it was cut by guys who usually cut ivory,
very thin, and also pinned like ivory.
I've also seen ivory with the unmistakable ivory pattern,
cut thick and pinned with collars and washers.

And I've seen white natural scales cut and pinned like ivory
but with no haversian canals and no pattern of any kind.
I suspect that it's ivory where the pattern has been oiled away,
but I don't really know.
 
Thanks for the advices on care, I'll at least make sure to stop damaging further!

I am not 100% sure that the scales aren't bone.
That's a good point. I really could not say myself, but I'll take some detailed pictures tomorrow and maybe someone can confirm :)
 
This thread starts with somebody posting pictures of bone
and then people responded posting pictures of ivory.







This post shows some of my ivory.
You have to click on the thumbnail pictures to see an enlarged view
of the characteristic ivory pattern.


 
I'm no Heljestrand expert, does anyone know if they ever used bone? I'm not aware that they did but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. That said, there's nothing to say that one or more of these wasn't rescaled at some point. Hard to tell from the photos but it looks like several of these are pinned without collars (typical) while the one definitely has them.
 
I'm no Heljestrand expert, does anyone know if they ever used bone? I'm not aware that they did but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. That said, there's nothing to say that one or more of these wasn't rescaled at some point. Hard to tell from the photos but it looks like several of these are pinned without collars (typical) while the one definitely has them.
I've never seen a Heljestrand in bone. That is no conclusive proof, I've just not seen any.

I think you are right about the collars. I would say that at least one of those has been rescaled at some point.
 
A latecomer here, but...

A very nice set.

The scales are most definitely, absolutely, 100% ivory. I can tell that just by looking at them. A lovely set, in spite of the broken scale.
 
Hi all

As promised, here are better pictures where we can see the details of the scales (and the two damage scales), which may help identifying the material (although Shangas seems confident it's ivory).

Another question in this respect. What would be the approximate value of this set? I am not yet certain whether I'll keep it (and restore it) or try to find someone who'll have a better use of it. If I were to plan on restoring it and spend money, I'd like to know its worth :)

Of course, feel free to let me know if you'd like additional pictures.

Best,
Alex
 

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We can't do valuations here, but I stand by my statement that they are very nice razors and worth cleaning up. I'm personally quite fond of Swedish framebacks and these are good examples of that style. If I owned them, I would restore them.

I'm pretty sure they're all ivory but you can confirm by looking at them closely with a bright light and looking for Schreger lines versus Haversian canals. I have four razors with ivory scales and they run the gamut from the kind of wood grain pattern of some of yours, to very plain like the far left, to a more consistent pattern like the second from the right.
 
Yes, Ivory, some appear to have been repined and had some hard use.

A full restoration could be pricy and shipping problematic give the political ivory climate.

If you are not going to use them, clean the blades with WD40 and 0000 steel wool. Remove all the soap from between the scales with a WD40 soaked paper towel wrapped around a wood coffee stir stick. Cut off active and black rust with a single edge razor blade then polish the steel with 0000 steel wool and any good metal polish.

Give the Ivory a wipe with mineral oil to rehydrate and once the blades are clean and rust free, seal in Ren Wax or good automotive paint sealant.

You want to stop the rust, rehydrate the ivory and seal to protect.

Nice set. Valuation is frowned upon because they are so subjective and as in this case problematic. They need work and the work, un-pinning ivory is very delicate work, full restoration could exceed purchase value.

You could look up on-line auctions, closed sales for an idea of prices, but condition and scale material dictate price. 7-day set do not seem to bring the same valuation as single razors of a given maker.
 
Why not start one step at a time. Select the razor that is in the best shape. Send it out for refurbishing - meaning to clean it up and hone it. Then shave with it for awhile. If you remain interested, you can continue one razor at a time. I suspect the cracked scales can be easily repaired. As for the one that is missing a piece, I would leave that alone. It adds character and does not affect function.
 
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