Great picture and a fascinating history lesson, Jeff!View attachment 1455593
SOTD SATURDAY MORNING, MAY 14, 2022
Wet-shaving appeals to many different demographics, but this morning I’d like to talk briefly about what vintage shaving hardware holds for me. The aspects of primary interest are both the history and stories attached to many of the vintage tools I enjoy shaving with which includes both razors I shaved with this morning. With respect to my mug shave, the LeCoultre Au Sentier Frameback straight razor was both revolutionary and the height of luxury for its day (1860’s). The razors were advertised as having to be only sharpened/honed once every 10 years. The Rockwell hardness of the replaceable blades made for these razors was around 64, basically equivalent to the very hard Swedish steel of straight razor brands like CV Heljestrand and Klas Tornblom. In addition, taking inflation into account, the same razors today would cost between $140 - $212. The descendant of the Swiss Jacques LeCoultre blacksmithing company that gave birth to this remarkable razor is the contemporary Swiss watch-making concern, Jaeger-LeCoultre.
I own two of these incredible razors, an entry level model with wood scales and the apex model with ivory scales with which I shaved my mug this morning. I spent most of yesterday honing razors. The entry level model has always shaved beautifully, but I’d never been happy with the edge on the ivory scaled model. We’ve all encountered straight razors that don’t yield to our regular honing routines. Despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t seem to put a shaving edge on this dang razor! And this was despite the razor passing the tap and wobble test; it was flat as a pancake! A quick phone call to my friend, Glen Mercurio, a honemeister with three decades of experience resolved the issue. I routinely hone my hollows, rattlers, and framebacks with a single layer of tape. Wedges are a different story. Glen explained that due to the hardness of the LeCoultre blades and frustration with trying to hone them, many attempted to sharpen them as they would a knife by lifting the blade up off the hone. He suggested three layers of tape which I use with my wedge blades. That did the trick, and my three pass mug shave this morning went according to Hoyle, leaving my face dolphin smooth.
The Schick F Type used for my noggin shave has an interesting story as well. The razor, a college graduation gift, belonged to then Second Lieutenant Robert McKeever who took it off to the war in the Pacific against the Japanese. Lieutenant McKeever was badly wounded during the battle for Okinawa. His life was saved from grenade shrapnel by his mess kit which contained this razor and other toiletries. Unfortunately, he died from those very same wounds 17 yrs after discharge in 1958. For whatever reason, he kept both the mess kit and this razor, supposedly damaged beyond repair. His daughter, Chloe, my neighbor, knowing I was a shave nerd, gave it to me when I helped clean out his things a few years ago. Fortunately, a very talented shave brother (@twhite) at TSD, my main shave hangout, was gracious enough to repair the razor and bring it back into service. Every time I shave my noggin with this razor I think of the original owner. My two pass ATG noggin shave this morning was excellent leaving me glassine smooth from noggin to neck. As caretaker for both these shaving tools, I hope to pass the F Type on to my grandson, Kevin, and the LeCoultre Au Sentier straight razor to his father, Ben.
RAZOR: LeCoultre Au Sentier Frameback #2 Blade (Mug), Schick F Type (Dome)
BLADE: Supply Black Injector
PREP: Cold water rinse followed by a heavy scrub with Argan Oil
BRUSH: MrEE LE #005 Aluminum Handled SynBad Knot
SOAP: Mitchell’s Wool Fat
POSTSHAVE: Cold water wash with brush squeezings followed by a rinse with Humphreys WH. Finished with Old Spice Fresh Lime AS Splash (Indian Version)