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Real tortoiseshell scales?

Howdey all,

I'm looking at maybe buying a rather nice looking henry sears and son from the Internets. On the listing, it says solid tortoiseshell scales. Is it possible it could be real tortoiseshell? How would you go about proving one way or the other?
Also, Henry sears and sons, are they good razors? Don't want to shell out a non-substantial amount for a razor if it's not going to be a daily/frequent shaver.
 
Howdey all,

I'm looking at maybe buying a rather nice looking henry sears and son from the Internets. On the listing, it says solid tortoiseshell scales. Is it possible it could be real tortoiseshell? How would you go about proving one way or the other?
Also, Henry sears and sons, are they good razors? Don't want to shell out a non-substantial amount for a razor if it's not going to be a daily/frequent shaver.
It's not likely to be real tortoiseshell unless it is an antique. Most of the time tortoiseshell is referring to an imitation material. Trade in tortoiseshell items is restricted.

Telling real from imitation; well, maybe an expert could tell by looking, a destructive test is to press a hot pin into the material in an inconspicuous place. Real tortoiseshell would smell like hair burning. Imitation would smell like burning plastic.
 
This is a screen shot from the listing, dont know if you'd be able to tell from that. Obviously I've never seen real tortoiseshell before (other than on a real, live tortoise), so dont really know what to look for.
I've heard the hit needle test mentioned before for telling plastic from other materials, may try it if I decide to buy.
 

Attachments

That’s dyed horn. Nicer than plastic but not tortoise. The light areas in dyed horn were always greener than real tortoise.

Signs of tortoise:

The dark/light areas are less well defined.
Most 20th century tortoise did not use pin collars
Tortoise was always expensive, you don’t find it on cheap razors.

Here are some examples. Note that Heljestrand used a darker variety.

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Wow, those look beautiful, especially that last one, looks like veins of gold in black rock.
I see what you mean about the dyed horn ones being greener, it still looks cool, but not a patch on the real tortoiseshell you've just shown me
 

FarmerTan

George Bailey Fanboy
Wow, those look beautiful, especially that last one, looks like veins of gold in black rock.
I see what you mean about the dyed horn ones being greener, it still looks cool, but not a patch on the real tortoiseshell you've just shown me
Agreed, his examples are gorgeous!

The one you have your eye on is awfully attractive though.
 
I do cheat a little, one thing that helps when photographing translucent scales is to cut a piece of aluminum foil to go between the scales. It reflects light back through the scales and works a treat. Without it, the colors would be noticeably duller and lower in contrast.
 

Legion

Moderator Emeritus
I do cheat a little, one thing that helps when photographing translucent scales is to cut a piece of aluminum foil to go between the scales. It reflects light back through the scales and works a treat. Without it, the colors would be noticeably duller and lower in contrast.
Good tip.
 

Legion

Moderator Emeritus
If you want to see something that looks like real tortoise (but isn't) go to a sunglasses shop and check out the "tortoise" acetate frames on a pair of Persol sunglasses. They are very close.

If razor scales are antique and look like that, they are probably real.
 
Here’s the best cheap razor alternative, tortoise Kirinite. The light areas are the right color but the light and dark areas are still too well defined. It’s beautiful material and it’s replaceable lol. These were made by our friend Alfredo, aka @Doc226

143EE33A-3631-4373-9E38-A42A785A514F.jpeg B88C569D-79E6-4EDD-B306-F99C9BDB152E.jpeg
 
Once you’ve seen the real thing it’s easy to tell. The giveaway on the Kirinite is the shape of the colours. Too square and too patchy.

Here are a few more real ones. It has a beautiful gloss to it and is quite dense in the hand. Probably the most beautiful material in nature. Unfortunately it is very brittle and antique examples are often chipped on the edges.

67A412D9-6632-4B25-BF07-C6A0C7667BFA.jpeg 29CDC847-D1D1-48B7-9251-2EF23AC05EED.jpeg 935D6104-063F-4821-A76B-D94AC97F4DC8.jpeg DAC14167-2694-4D09-B77E-E60F68DFF867.jpeg
 

Legion

Moderator Emeritus
Yes. I only have one, but in the hand the real stuff feels hard and cold. More like glass than plastic.
 
The razor for sale, though beautiful, does have some serious wear on it... And also what looks like a deep running pit, ending in a nasty chip on the edge. That will take a while to hone out.
 
The razor for sale, though beautiful, does have some serious wear on it... And also what looks like a deep running pit, ending in a nasty chip on the edge. That will take a while to hone out.
Good spot, I just a closer look and you're right, there's a big chip near the end of the blade. I'll give that one a moss I think. Thanks for the help!
 
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