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School me on the Valet Auto-Strop

So I've taken possession of my first Valet Auto-Strop, minus the strop. The razor looks like it's never been used once:





Looking at the blades (in full disclosure, the pictured blades arrived with a different purchase and were not part of the razor pictured above), it looks for all the world like a de-spined Gem blade might work:



This was more of a "I don't have one so let me buy one" purchase. I don't know that I'd be shaving with it anytime soon given the blade situation, but that is "to be determined". Nonetheless it's an amazing razor from our industrial past and one I'm glad I've acquired.

Who uses one of these and what advice would you give to an "Auto-Strop Newbie"?

Thanks!
 
Great looking razor. It does appear to be NOS.

Funny you should mention it because I just spent a bunch of time researching this razor just this week. Apparently there are three major versions and three different hacks for blades. Your blade looks like one that would fit the original Valet with the small blade holder. I was interested in this because it could take a de-spined Gem with little modification (just need to cut off a piece of the notch toward the back side). The one you got are the later ones with the wider blade holder, and these would take a modified Feather SE blade (the one for the OneBlade). For those, you would need to cut out part of the notch in the blade. Your razor uses the old Valet blades with VALET punched out on the side of the blade. It will fit the pins in the blade holder.

After researching all that, I decided I had enough work to do honing my Kampfe, Rolls, and Wilkinson wedge blades and didn't need another chore to get blades ready for a different razor.
 
Thanks gvw. I've seen the Auto-Strop around for years but it was always an SE razor enigma to me with respect to blades. When the time is right I'll experiment with Gem blades to see what sort of manipulation will be required to make it work. The Auto-Strop is engineered unlike any razor I've seen in the SE world.
 
Your razor is the Valet Auto Strop "VC2" (and a very nice one; congrats). The blades you have are for the earlier VC1. They won't work in your razor, because your razor has little blade-alignment pins under the hinged VALET door, and those pins have to fit into cut outs in the blade. The old blades like yours don't have those cut outs.

There are two modern blades that will fit, and you can find them on auction sites or major online retailers. Just do a search. The Feather FHS-10 is stainless steel, and the Feather FAS-10 is carbon steel. Both are the right size, and both have cut outs for those little blade alignment pins.

Here is my VC2 with a Feather FHS-10 blade installed. Next to it are the two boxes that the two types of Feather blades come in to help you find the right ones. FAS-10 (carbon) on top in the blue and yellow package; FHS-10 (stainless) on the bottom in the blue and silver package.
$IMG_0633.JPG

Here is a picture of the Feather FHS-10 blade itself, and you can see the lettering they've cut out, which will match your blade-alignment pins. (You can also see the big Feather glue spots).

$IMG_0634.JPG
Your other option is to score some vintage Valet blades of the right type. They are available on the usual auction sites from time to time, but for some reason the sellers think they're gold. Here's what they look like (again with the glue spots, sheesh):

$IMG_0635.JPG

The reason there is such an elaborate cut out for two little pins is that Auto Strop changed the pin locations over time, seemingly at random, to keep people buying their blades. Their blades had that big VALET cut out that would fit the razor no matter where they put the pins. Feather's concept is the same: big cut out so it will fit any pin set up.

Hope this helps.
 
Thanks gvw. I've seen the Auto-Strop around for years but it was always an SE razor enigma to me with respect to blades. When the time is right I'll experiment with Gem blades to see what sort of manipulation will be required to make it work. The Auto-Strop is engineered unlike any razor I've seen in the SE world.
I forgot to mention that if you pick up a stock of those modern Feather blades, you can fill your den with various types of Auto Strops, each one a mechanical marvel (or at least mechanical curiosity). I'm pretty sure those modern blades fit 'em all.
 
Definitely grab some of those feather blades, the auto strops are great razors, kind of the original "OneBlade"
 
Great score! I have always avoided the Auto strop due to the blade issue but reading this makes me think..
 
Congratulations on a nice score. Not too much I can add to all the great info above. The VC2 was produced from 1928 to 1935 or so. As mentioned, the "VALET" cutout was an attempt to thwart aftermarket blade manufacturers. Pretty clever, actually. While blade patents would expire, "VALET" was a registered trademark of the Auto-Strop corp. and could not be used without permission.

However, Feather later produced their own version of the Auto-Strop and came up with an ingenious abstract cutout that will fit 99% of the Valet's.

--Bob
 
Thanks Bob.

The razor is literally brand new. I have blades incoming but they will not be here for at least two weeks. I'm thinking I should buy a user grade Auto-Strop and leave this one as is.
 
Thanks Bob.

The razor is literally brand new. I have blades incoming but they will not be here for at least two weeks. I'm thinking I should buy a user grade Auto-Strop and leave this one as is.
It's worth considering. Your set is in an unusual case. The gold plating on the Auto-Strops is incredibly thin and fragile, and starts to wear after only a few shaves.

You can find user grade nickel plated VC1's for next to nothing and they can also use the modified Gem blade. Just be sure there is a picture of the blade stops, as they are often broken and the razor is not safe to use with a broken blade stop.

--Bob
 
It's worth considering. Your set is in an unusual case. The gold plating on the Auto-Strops is incredibly thin and fragile, and starts to wear after only a few shaves.

You can find user grade nickel plated VC1's for next to nothing and they can also use the modified Gem blade. Just be sure there is a picture of the blade stops, as they are often broken and the razor is not safe to use with a broken blade stop.

--Bob
The VC1 equipped with a (easily modded) GEM stainless is one of my favorite razors, one I'd never part with. Buy one. Never had any luck with vintage Valet blades.
 
So I was doing more research on this razor and low and behold, it's made by Gillette! This was obviously during the time frame (I believe) Gillette had bought them out but continued to make them (an odd period for sure). Now when discussing vintage Gillette's I can offer up my "Gillette Auto Strop" as part of the conversation :)

 
The VC1 equipped with a (easily modded) GEM stainless is one of my favorite razors, one I'd never part with. Buy one. Never had any luck with vintage Valet blades.
I haven't tried a modified Gem blade with my VC1, but the Feather FHS-10 blades I use are awesome. Love this razor.
 

KeenDogg

Social Media Guru
So I was doing more research on this razor and low and behold, it's made by Gillette! This was obviously during the time frame (I believe) Gillette had bought them out but continued to make them (an odd period for sure). Now when discussing vintage Gillette's I can offer up my "Gillette Auto Strop" as part of the conversation :)

I have seen a few listed as being made by Gillette. I haven't had the pleasure of holding one in my hands. I think you are correct on it being from a time when Gillette bought them out. That razor is a show piece! Take good care of it.

Kindly,
Adam
 
I have seen a few listed as being made by Gillette. I haven't had the pleasure of holding one in my hands. I think you are correct on it being from a time when Gillette bought them out. That razor is a show piece! Take good care of it.

Kindly,
Adam
VC3 (wing tabs) and VC4 models (runner guard) would be Gillette manufacture.
 
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