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Simpsons Brush Hierarchy?

A week ago I had the pleasure of shopping for shave supplies in Pasteur's pharmacy in NYC (I went to the 34th street location). I did notice that they had a good number of Simpson's brushes, though I do not believe they had the entire line of brushes. I went through about 15 brushes looking for one I was happy with, and did in fact buy a Simpson S-1 Special in Best Badger (their cheapest best badger brush at US$40). One thing that did baffle me is that price did not, at least to me, have any indication as to brush quality, knot size or how finely formed/made the handle was. I actually liked the Special more than most of the $100-200 brushes in both super badger and best badger. Even many of the brushes in the $200-300 range left me underwhelmed though at least a couple of them had a bigger knot than the Special. They had two copies of the Special and I did show a preference for one of them, with a taller loft (I like a taller loft) and more bloom (I again regard that as a positive). I don't remember every brush I looked at but they included a Harvard, Tulip, Chubby (1 I believe), Major, Persian Jar and a few others


Can anybody explain the hierarchy of Simpsons brushes well? Also why are some brushes with seemingly the same knot in the same badger grade in similar sized handles warrant a 50% price premium?


I am impressed with the brand overall and will probably buy another brush in either Best or Super, but may try to do so in a brick and mortar store where I can examine what I am buying. It is not an issue with sticker shock. It is just that the hierarchy seemed almost arbitrary. I liked my $40 brush more than several $200 brushes that I saw that day. Having used the brush the last week or so confirms my liking of it. Soft, comfortable, little or no scritch, and has shed only 1 hair in a week of use.


I face lather. I do have a few Whipped Dog brushes including my previous workhorse, a 22 mm silvertip (very soft and floppy - pluses in my book), a 30 mm silvertip with the handle drilled down to 20 mm which I do not like as much but have only used it a couple of times, it is not broken in yet, a Whipped Dog 24 mm black badger with too much scritch. The Simpsons Special has a hair more scritch than my broken in 22 mm Whipped Dog Silvertip but they seem very close in feel and performance. My 30 mm WD Silvertip has a lot more Scritch and backbone, both not something I like, but it is not broken in. I also have a WD synthetic and a couple of Razorock Plissoft synthetics. Surprisingly I also like an Omega Pro 48 in boar, even though it is far from broken in. I think the tall loft of the Omega 48 allows it to splay a bit.


You may have noticed that I tend to like a high loft and a somewhat floppy brush much more so than many of the face latherers on this forum, so this may color my view. I like a soft luxurious brush for face lathering. Surprisingly however I do like my Omega 48 boar despite it not being broken in.


Enough rambling, and back to my original question: What is the hierarchy of Simpsons brushes and what is the reasoning behind it?
 
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I am kind of newish, so I am interested in some of the more knowledgable folks opinions also. My only Simpson so far is the Duke 3 which I love. Best badger, btw. I picked it based on reviewing a bunch of Simpson threads here. Perhaps there is already a thread on this? :thumbup:
 
I have the Simpson S1 (and really enjoy it), and Vulvix #374. To me they look and feel virtually identical, even though the S1 is Best Badger and the Vulvix is Finest Badger (supposedly a grade higher). So I'm interested in the answer to your question, since I've been wondering myself. I have heard that the Simpson Best Badger hair is particularly high quality, and rivals the supposedly higher grade hair of other brands.
 
I can't really justify for myself spending more than 40 or maybe 50 bucks for a brush. Some of these brushes to me seem like a differently shaped version of the same thing, but yet have massive price differences. I don't get that? Simpson is a good brush, but I'll never venture into the 'high end' of them. I have a Special in best which is great, and a Wee Scot that I prefer even more. I wish the Special wasn't so tightly packed though, it holds too much lather for me, as I'm only usually a single pass guy. Wee Scot would be perfect with a longer handle.
 
One thing that did baffle me is that price did not, at least to me, have any indication as to brush quality, knot size or how finely formed/made the handle was.
This is true across all brands of brushes, and most consumer goods in general.

When we're talking about brushes, be sure to only compare badger against badger, boar against boar, and sysnth against synth. Each knot material has unique characteristics that make it perform differently, but with equal results, from a similar sized knot of a different material.

With Simpson brushes, you are paying a premium for the brand name, but presumably, that premium would be the same percentage across the entire line. Is it worth it? You and your wallet have to decide on a case-by-case basis.

As to the original question of the "Hierarchy" of Simpson brushes, I think that the price-tag is a good starting point. There are exceptions to the rule, of course. I think the Major is overpriced, but most "Travel" items are. The ultra-high end Chubbies will never find a home in my den ... I don't see the need to pay an extra $200 for an exotic wood handle. And likewise, there are some true bargains lurking in there, too, like the Chubby2 Synthetic with travel tube, or the synthetic Classic 1 with case.

The medium priced Simpsons are an excellent value, IMHO. Granted, you are paying a little extra for the label, but why not treat yourself to some luxury items in the shave den? Its a one-time investment that yields a life-time of pleasure.

Sadly, the only Simpson that I actually own right now is a Wee Scot ... but when it comes to the SBAD portion of my wish list, Simpson models account for more than all the other brands put together.
 
I have one Simpson (Colonel); it is a fine brush indeed. Had an Emperor once. Thought it was rather over rated. Sold it but I wish I had not.
Actually thinking about getting another one day..

The Simpson knots are very nice, much more so than TGN, but Shavemac makes a knot which is (my opinion) just as good. Advantage is you can get a Shavemac in a Rudy Vey brush with any kind of handle imaginable
 
[MENTION=7408]dpm802[/MENTION] the Major is overpriced because of the work put into the handle, which is a lot more complicated than that of the special. But except for that i agree with you.
 
Aside from what others have already said in accounting for price difference consider the grade of badger knot. Some grades are more plentiful than others so are less expensive. Some knots is equal size may be stuffed with more badger hair than others adding to the cost. Handle size and shape count too. The larger the handle the more material used the more expensive. All those things added together also affect cost. This is true of all brands not just Simpsons.

I have 3 Simpsons brushes, a Chubby 2 LE synthetic, a Classic 1 synthetic and a QEII Jubilee Manchurian badger. They are all well made and perform well for me. Only you can determine if you want to shell out for a brush made by a heritage maker with a fine reputation. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself to a little indulgent luxury.

Bob
 
[MENTION=7408]dpm802[/MENTION] the Major is overpriced because of the work put into the handle, which is a lot more complicated than that of the special. But except for that i agree with you.
I never thought about that, but I can see that the Major handle would require extra steps, more time, and more material.

In general, I don't like any shave gear hardware that has the word "Travel" in its description. Except if you're going up in the Space Shuttle or competing in the Tour de France, size and weight are not that critical. Better to take your favorite brush from home (with an appropriate carrying tube) instead of throwing extra money towards a specialized brush. Travel gear tends to be over-priced and under-powered.

And I hate to hear the Wee Scot thought of as just a good travel brush ... it works great in the home den, too. It punches well above its weight, and it can hold its own against any other brush in my collection. While I wouldn't want to have the Wee Scot as my only brush, there are times when it is called for, even at home. It is my go-to choice when I'm testing a brand new soap, and I always reach for it when I use one of my discontinued collectible creams like C&E Sweet Almond Oil. Since it is so small and places lather so precisely, it assures that nothing goes to waste.
 
There is a large selection of Simpson handle designs and many of them are available in different hair grades. Historically, several of the handles were produced in ivory as well.

Factors which I would consider when trying to "rank" the brushes into some kind of order would be;

- handle size and intricacy
- knot size
- knot density
- hair grade

I have owned a good number of Simpson brushes over the years and I guess that Chubbies and Polos were amongst the most expensive- both large brushes with densely packed knots.
Emperor, Tulip and Persian Jar always struck me as being slightly more exclusive and were available in "Super" hair.
The Duke, Classic, B&B Eagle, 50 Series, Milk Churn and Rover are all middle-sized brushes having "Best" knots which I really enjoyed.
The smaller brushes - Special, Case, Berkeley and the Wee Scot are obviously smaller and some of the least expensive from the brand.



 
With Simpson brushes, the hierarchy is generally:

Manchurian/silvertip > super > best > pure

Then it is sorted broadly in terms of how big or dense the knot is. More hair is more expensive.

Manchurian is the most expensive largely due to scarcity.

Super, in my experience, is the 'best' of 'best'. That is to say it is similar to best grade in terms of broad characteristic of the hair, but the hair is more selected to give a fine knot with generally good backbone.

Pure is pretty much the entry grade badger hair and can be a bit scratchy.

And Best grade, again in my experience, tends to be fairly variable and can lie anywhere on the spectrum between super and pure.

My personal favourite Simpson brush is my Chubby 1 super. It is dense but a manageable size, soft tipped but with strong backbone.

My 'daily' brushes are a pair of Duke 2s in best. One is fairly scrubby and the other is completely different, it is very soft and blooms very widely. Hence my experience of best grade being very variable.

Finally, I would argue that you don't 'pay for a name' with Sinpson brushes particularly. Their higher end Super brushes are no more expensive than other high end brands and they offer some excellent value brushes such as the Berkley in best. Besides, 'paying for a name' has always seemed an odd concept to me. I think you pay for intellectual property and for a reputable brand and proven customer care...
 
The ultra-high end Chubbies will never find a home in my den ... I don't see the need to pay an extra $200 for an exotic wood handle.

There are no wood handled Sinpson brushes, they are all a good quality resin (plastic). Chubbies just have a really dense knot leading to their price tags.
 
There are no wood handled Sinpson brushes, they are all a good quality resin (plastic). Chubbies just have a really dense knot leading to their price tags.
No, there are. They made some two years ago a small special edition, both M7 and Chubby. They used Cocobolo, Walnut, Ebony, Purple Heart and some other woods.
 
The Simpson's here are all "Super", except for one Manchurian (I keep that one around to remind me not to buy another). You'll note that there are three Chubby 3s. No one needs a Chubby, let alone three. These are from different vintages, as are many of the other brushes, and have quite different characteristics. Not sure how the color will register on the site, but some of the older ones have a pinkish tint to the ivory color. I stay with "Super", as I've found "Best" too variable. The Manchurian appears to have replaced the 2-Band Super, which is too bad as it was a superb knot. I prefer a very soft face feel with no scratchy sensation. If you want the uber-dense feel a Chubby without the mega-bucks, get the Shavemac DO-1 3-band. Not cheap, but a fantastic brush. I recommend buying a used brush and if you don't like it you can re-sell it with little friction on the transaction.

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Prices are what the market will bear.

Popular styles cost more than slow moving models.

All things being equal, or very similar, the Persian Jar in Best should be lesser priced than the XL3.

Simpsons can assign whatever prices they like. I suspect that they try to stay as close to a balance as they can to maintain demand near to their production capacity without exceeding prices where demand and market share declines.

Considering that some of their brushes specifications are similar yet are priced quite differently I think that it's reasonable, barring an official explanation, that they charge more for brushes that are popular and for brushes that may be more difficult or time consuming to produce.

They have set bottoms for authorized re-sellers. So many vendors prices are quite similar.

I'm sure that some styles and models have subtle differences beyond what we consider when perusing posted specifications.

I also feel that a few models are better deals than others. No idea why. Maybe the gateway or loss leader models.
 
@djh wow, really nice collection. What would you say is your favourite all-rounder of the simpson bunch?
Thanks. Several of those have gone and may or may not have been replaced...

If I were pressed to choose one brush, it would probably be the Eagle (which is from a B&B Group Buy) and was not generally available in "Best" hair. The Duke2 was also a terrific brush and was the subject of one of our Brush Chronicles a few years ago.
 
Excellent question! My current collection includes a Duke 2, 57, 56, classic 2 and chubby 1 and I prefer best for face lathering.

As others note these are hand made and there is a lot of variability between individual brushes. IMO price is determined by 4 factors:

1. Hair (grade and density)
2. Handle (material type, quantity and difficulty of manufacture)
3. Size (larger brushes within a line cost more)
4. Demand (some lines are more popular)

A Special in pure may look like a bargain compared to a Chubby 1 in Manchurian. The Special would not be a bargain for me because I could not use it!
 
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