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The Association of Lather Catchers: TALC

Welcome to The Association of Lather Catchers (TALC)!!!! This group is for anyone who collects, uses and/or is interested in learning more about these beautiful razors!!! Membership is simple: have a Lather Catcher and share it here -- preferably with pics, but a description will do -- and you’re in! It can be a wall-hanger/medicine-cabinet-queen, your daily driver or something in between -- we’d like to see it and/or hear about it.

Several aspirations for this group are:
  1. Bringing together the collectors, users, researchers, aficionados, and folks who are just plain interested, fascinated, or perhaps even a touch obsessed with these razors and their unique look, history and shaves -- I myself fall into multiple categories.

  2. Consolidating some of the knowledge for those of us who are continuing to collect and use these amazing razors. There are many, many Lather Catchers -- doing a search in Waits’ Compendium, one can find over 50 different models from all over the world.

  3. Fostering an appreciation for these razors. It wasn’t so many years ago that people had forgotten what they were. There are stories of people getting them tossed in as a “freebie” with their Gillette razor acquisitions at flea markets, garage sales and auctions. Those days are seemingly gone, which means they’re more expensive, but they are also more valued, and thus much less likely to hit the landfill.
As this is the start of TALC, let’s start with what a Lather Catcher is. For that, I went back in the Forum’s history and found this posting Safety Razor of the Month, June 2012 - Lather Catchers. To summarize, it starts with an early (perhaps the earliest) known Lather Catcher patent (US228904A - kampfe - Google Patents), and he kindly excerpted the appropriate description and added what I think is an appropriate definition:

What exactly is a lather catcher? It's a single-edged safety razor where the blade is held over a cupped recess originally designed to literally catch the lather as you shaved. Here's a passage from that 1880 patent:

The sharp edge of the razor rests against the grated or toothed edge of the front plate, and as the hair and soap are removed in operation of shaving such refuse matter will be forced through the opening G in the bottom plate, and be retained within the hollow holder, thereby permitting of the use of the device without danger of soiling the fingers of the user.

As time progressed, the "catcher" portion of the razor became more and more of a stylized element until we reached the 1914-style "Little Lather Catcher" where it's hardly more than a vestigial shadow of its former self -- a pogonotomical appendix, if you will -- before it ultimately disappeared entirely.

In investigating other forums, this is a pretty consistent characterization of the Lather Catcher. This means the Ever-Ready 1914 -- while a very fine razor -- never makes the cut. I’m sure we’ll have many discussions around this and other topics, but for now, this definition will be our “stake in the ground”.

I will start off the first entry with my oldest Lather Catcher: The Kampfe Bros Star that was patented in June 15, 1880 (the patent listed above). There are no blade clips, and while I have a few wedge blades that I’ve honed -- they all seem just a touch too wide for the razor. I also have some 3D-printed blade adapters to let a modern GEM blade mimic a wedge blade, but the moderns are too wide as well. As I am a user-collector, I’ll continue searching for a way to shave with this Star. The Waits’ Compendium of razors shows this as a Model 2A (Model numbers are Robert Waits’ designations, not the Kampfe Bros); and RW indicates there were two models before this, the differences being the rake (mine is angular, the first model was straight), and the handle (mine is metal tubular, the previous two models had wooden handles). Here are the pics....she's not my prettiest Lather Catcher, but she is my oldest, and I think she looks darn good for her years.
IMG_1831.JPG IMG_1830.jpg IMG_1829.jpg IMG_1828.JPG IMG_1832.JPG IMG_1835.JPG IMG_1834.JPG IMG_1833.JPG

I've got over a dozen Lather Catchers which I'll be promenading through TALC -- but now I'd really like to see and hear about yours.
 
I look forward to the development of this thread and the contributions of the members razors and knowledge base. I will photograph my collection of 4 lather catcher's as soon as I get a chance and post the little I know about them.
I certainly enjoy shaving with the two that I have used. And enjoy learning more about the history of these fine razors.

That's a great looking razor, considering it's from the late 1800s it's amazing to see these razors in any kind of condition.

Also I like the name you picked for this thread.
 
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this is my only LC single edge. it works incredibly well, particularly on the old noggin.View attachment 992592
Nice Gem Junior Bar -- I can't be sure without seeing the back, but the one I have with a similar handle has sort of a plain looking backside (not a lot of script) and I think mine is a later model (circa 1910'ish). And I agree, in terms of shaving, it's hard to beat any of the Gem Lather Catchers!!! Thanks for sharing and welcome to TALC!!!
 
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I'm excited to see this thread starting off, and glad to be able to join in and discuss these awesome razors with you guys. We've already got some great photos going on. :001_cool:

Here's mine, a GEM later catcher circa 1904-05. Just got it recently and it's my only one (for now). Looking forward to using it again tomorrow. 20190607_175650.jpg 20190607_175604.jpg
 

emwolf

Contributor
Nice Gem Junior Bar -- I can't be sure without seeing the back, but the one I have with a similar handle has sort of a plain looking backside (not a lot of script) and I think mine is a later model (circa 1910'ish). And I agree, in terms of shaving, it's hard to beat any of the Gem Lather Catchers!!! Thanks for sharing and welcome to TALC!!!
This one says GEM JUNIOR and then NY USA and that's all. I've found this is the only lightweight razor I've used that can provide a BBS shave. Just used it this morning!! I'll have to edit my sig strip to include TALC!
 
I'm excited to see this thread starting off, and glad to be able to join in and discuss these awesome razors with you guys. We've already got some great photos going on. :001_cool:

Here's mine, a GEM later catcher circa 1904-05. Just got it recently and it's my only one (for now). Looking forward to using it again tomorrow. View attachment 992602 View attachment 992603
So glad you've joined us -- that is such an awesome razor....both in form and function. Those earlier GEM Lather Catchers (pre-Juniors) are pretty scarce -- I happily stumbled upon one, but I had been looking for a while.
 
This one says GEM JUNIOR and then NY USA and that's all. I've found this is the only lightweight razor I've used that can provide a BBS shave. Just used it this morning!! I'll have to edit my sig strip to include TALC!
That's the one I have as well....I've been trying to dig up some history on that particular model. The pre-Junior GEM Lather Catchers are very ornate (as illustrated by @CelticFox's razor above), and the 1907 GEM Junior Bar's had quite a bit of script and scroll work, so I think this was one of the later (I believe the last) GEM Lather Catchers before they moved over to the GEM Damaskeene (open comb) razors in 1912. I'm including an excellent chart by @mata_66 -- and hoping he weighs in over time with his deep research of these razors.
Screenshot 2019-06-07 at 07.17.10.png
 
So I think we (@emwolf and I) have what is traditionally thought of (and called) the 1910 GEM Junior Bar. Mine has been used quite a bit -- I often think it may have seen some action in WW I and potentially WW II -- and I certainly can't argue with it's shaves.
IMG_1849.jpg IMG_1848.jpg IMG_1850.jpg
 
Unfortunately, it doesn't exist any literature about those early models and I had to rely mainly on paper ads from the era. In the early year of the century, Gem was just a little more than a workshop and God only knows how many variations or "customs" they might have produced. Some of the early models could not have been publicized at all so proof of their existence could have been lost. By the way, @CelticFox 's excellent lather catcher is a "New 1904" model in great conditions.

1904-Model#1.jpg
 
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Unfortunately, it doesn't exist any literature about those early models and I had to rely mainly on paper ads from the era. In the early year of the century, Gem was just a little more than a workshop and God only knows how many variations or "customs" they might have produced. Some of the early models could not have been publicized at all so proof of their existence could have been lost. By the way, @CelticFox 's excellent lather catcher is a "New 1904" model in great conditions.

View attachment 992731
Good to know, and that is a beautiful razor set!!! I hope you'll continue to come by / hangout -- we can really use your expertise as we dive into the various makes and models.
 
Unfortunately, it doesn't exist any literature about those early models and I had to rely mainly on paper ads from the era. In the early year of the century, Gem was just a little more than a workshop and God only knows how many variations or "customs" they might have produced. Some of the early models could not have been publicized at all so proof of their existence could have been lost. By the way, @CelticFox 's excellent lather catcher is a "New 1904" model in great conditions.

View attachment 992731
Thanks, I was lucky to be able to get it. And thanks for making that chart, it's really well done and useful.
 
If there is a lather catcher with a Gem blade that shaves smoother than a Gem 1912, please let me know. I would gladly hunt for one.

Hope to see this thread grow!
 
If there is a lather catcher with a Gem blade that shaves smoother than a Gem 1912, please let me know. I would gladly hunt for one.

Hope to see this thread grow!
I have found the GEM Junior Bar (particularly the 1907) to be smoother than my Gem 1912 -- but, stay tuned and I'm sure others will weigh-in with their thoughts. When I have a moment I'll do a comparison of the two razors -- both in terms of measurable dimensions (height, weight, blade gap, blade exposure) as well as shaving differences (at least from my perspective). Oh and I happen to know someone who has already done that: @Ron R. I hope he doesn't mind, but I'm going to insert his chart below. My experience tends to mirror his experience; and especially when in his assessment of the 1907 GEM Junior Bar being slightly more efficient and slightly more mild than the GEM 1912. He has a great thread (Gem Razor Models) that has compiled lots of information on all (or almost all) the GEM razors.
GEM Razor Cluster review 2019 (2).jpg
 

HDSledge

Contributor
I've got a couple and will contribute pics later. Looking for someone who can get the edge on the old blades comfortable so I can finally use one.
 
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