SOTD SUNDAY, JUNE 7, 2020
The shave yesterday with my VC4 Valet Auto Strop (VAS) was so awesome, I just had to repeat it. The Auto Strop was designed by Henry Gaisman, and it is a surprisingly brilliant piece of work. The VAS evolved from the original 1906 model through 9 others and culminated in this razor, the VC4 which ceased production in 1946. Of all the models, only the VC4 featured a safety bar instead of the open comb of its predecessors.
During the roaring mid-1920s, Gaisman like his mentor, King C Gillette, realized that money in the shaving game was in blades, not blade-holders, despite his having designed one of the best, if not the best safety razors in the business. Customers had stopped buying Valet blades, and were substituting the cheaper Gem blades. Research indicated that customers didn’t consider the VAS a premium brand.
To counter this perception, and lock in customers, Gaisman released the Model VB2 (7th of 10 VAS models) a silver plated model with a new blade lock. The new mechanism consisted of a swinging door that secured the blade and included indents on the baseplate that prevented the use of Gem blades. In fact, all three Auto Strops that followed had indents on the baseplate. Thankfully, the six models preceding the VB2 can all be used with Gem Blades. The easiest solution, of course, is to use an original NOS Valet blade or a Feather FHS-10 in any of the models.
Yesterday’s shave featured Chel, a synthetic menthol cooling gel. The gel Contains aloe and other skin+friendly ingredients. It performed beautifully as a preshave. So after my shower and cold water rinse, I again applied the Chel and lathered over it with the Nancy Boy Signature Shave cream. The Alpha Shaving T-400 Tribute’s Boar ferrule felt great against the shave surfaces. But what felt even better was the slowly escalating feeling of coolness. The VAS again delivered the goods through two slow luxurious passes (WTG, ATG). I think the feature I enjoy most about the later model Auto Strops is their adjustability. Lifting the locking lever In the back of the head increases efficiency and pressing it down decreases it, a very clever system, Mr Gaisman. And one arrived at through incremental improvements over the razor’s 40 year life (1906-1946), finding its final and best expression in this, the VC4. I really like this razor which again delivered another bloodless VBBS with no heat from the Alum. I feel clean, velveteen smooth, icy cool, and refreshed!
RAZOR: Valet Auto Strop (Model VC4)
BLADE: Feather FHS-10
PREP: Cold water rinse followed by Chel application to all shave surfaces
BRUSH: Alpha Shaving T-400 Tribute w/ 26mm Boar Ferrule
CREAM: Nancy Boy Signature
POSTSHAVE: Cold water wash with Glyce Glycerin soap followed by Humphreys Lilac WH and finished with Krampert’s Frostbite AS Splash