What's new
  • Guest
    As per our long standing policy of not permitting medical advice on the forum - all threads concerning the Coronavirus will be locked.
    For more info on the coronavirus please see the link below:
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

The history of the Heljestrand "M.K." series

Now and then someone ask me about the history of the Heljestrand M.K. thumb notch series, so I thought that I’d post my answer as a thread.

Four or five years ago I asked myself the very same question as I had become the lucky owner of a Jernbolaget razor that pretty much was a Heljestrand M.K. No.30, but older. Since then I have done some investigating. The true story can definitely be found in the archives since every Swedish company and every Swedish citizen is documented from the cradle to the tomb and it has been so since Sweden entered the 30 year war in 1630. I spoke to an archivarian about how to find the true story. He told me that the whole story for certain could be in the Eskilstuna town archives, but that it would take a huge amount of work to dig it up and that I wouldn’t be allowed to access the records myself. So the following story is what most likely happened, but please don’t take it for The Truth.

From 1870 to 1914 C.W. Dahlgren was one of the most renowned makers of knives and straight razors in Eskilstuna. He passed away in 1914 and his company was closed down in 1915. The workforce soon found new employments in the not too large town of Eskilstuna where people knew each other and the companies cooperated for the common best. The picture below is of a Dahlgren razor I own. As you can see it is made of a blank extremely similar to the M.K. series, but without the thumb spike and the grind is extremely thin. This alas means that very few of these razors have survived the last +100 years and the very few that have are as worn as this specimen.

20190817_143743.jpg

Jernbolaget was a rather large company by Eskilstuna measures. It made tools and every house utensil that could me made out of steel and they made straight razors. Around 1915 Jernbolaget began making the very same razors that before this had been made by Dahlgren. Jernbolaget however often put ivory scales, as thick as ordinary scales, on their version of this razor. The grind though still was just as thin as the Dahlgren version, thin like a DE blade. So I have had to accept that a few of my Jernbolaget specimens of this razor type isn’t in perfect condition. Se the picture below.

20190817_143711.jpg
From top to bottom: 4/8, 4/8, 5/8, 6/8 all with extremely thin grind.

In the 1920’s Jernbolaget decided to stop producing straight razors, probably due to the rising competition from the DE razors, and thus needed to lay off the razor craftsmen. This was also a reason to why the Heljestrand company was hanging by a thread. Unlike Jernbolaget Heljestrand was very dependent on straight razor production. In comes a Swedish/French entrepreneur Magnus Kindal (M.K.). He started a companionship with Heljestrand where Heljestrand made razors labelled “Kindal” to be sold by Kindal’s French business. In 1925 (can be 1926) Kindal bought the Heljestrand company and started exporting Heljestrand razors marked with his initials (M.K.) on a large scale. Besides from the standard Heljestrand models 4/8 full hollow (No.2) and the 5/8 (No.4) full hollow and the No.24 4/8 quarter hollow there were four new models, that was extremely similar the razor that Jernbolaget had produced up until then:
  • Heljestrand M.K. No.29 3/8 (mostly sold domestically)
  • Heljestrand M.K. No.30 4/8 (mostly sold domestically)
  • Heljestrand M.K. No.31 5/8 (very popular everywhere)
  • Heljestrand M.K. No.32 6/8 (mostly exported)
  • Heljestrand M.K. No.33 7/8 (mostly exported to the USA)

The very early versions don’t comply to the sizes stated above. There are early 4/8 razors marked with "31". If you find a razor in tortoise scales it’s very early production. Ivory can be found on razors made up until 1939. The 30, 31 and 32 continued to be produced after 1945, but Kindal simplified the 33 by taking away the thumb notch and sold them as what often is called the 130 series. However I can't swear by that no 33 razors where made after the war.

I hope this was of some help.:001_smile
 
Last edited:
Excellent write up and very timely since just last night I asked someone fond of Heljes what the difference in size was between the 32 and 33 models. So they match in width, then what separates them? Length of edge?

Always enjoy learning razor history from these mini lessons of yours. Please keep them coming, sir! :001_005:
 
Thank you Speedster. I made a typo (now corrected). The 33 is 7/8 and of the few razors I've given up hope of ever finding.
 
Thank you Speedster. I made a typo (now corrected). The 33 is 7/8 and of the few razors I've given up hope of ever finding.
Good to note since I own an Mk6 and was thinking of adding a 32 or 33 to keep him company. Too bad there's not a tweener, 13/16 model similar to the Japanese common widths that "fit" me so well.
 
Great write up. I own a mk133 and really like. I’ve been looking to add a 32/33 but like you said so hard to find.
 
I love history. Thank you Arne. Moreover actual hadn’t any knowledge that MK where grind up to a DE or near blade, which is amazing
Kind regards


Enviado do meu iPhone usando o Tapatalk
 
I love history. Thank you Arne. Moreover actual hadn’t any knowledge that MK where grind up to a DE or near blade, which is amazing
Kind regards


Enviado do meu iPhone usando o Tapatalk
My wrong, I should have been more specific. The Heljestrand razors are full hollow, but not nearly as thin as the Dahlgren and Jernbolaget versions.
 
The very early versions don’t comply to the sizes stated above. There are early 4/8 razors marked with "31". If you find a razor in tortoise scales it’s very early production. Ivory can be found on razors made up until 1939. The 30, 31 and 32 continued to be produced after 1945, but Kindal simplified the 33 by taking away the thumb notch and sold them as what often is called the 130 series. However I can't swear by that no 33 razors where made after the war.
i somehow deleted my reply a few minutes ago, so i'll keep it short and simple this time:

in 1957 heljestrand sold the following models (according to price list): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (full hollow); 7, 8, 10, 12 (half hollow); 22, 23, 24 (quarter hollow); 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34 (full hollow); 41, 42, 44 (quarter hollow); 45, 57 (half hollow); 133, 134 502, 504 (full hollow), 135, 136.

in 1957 most models were sold with white celluloid or "black rubber" (ebonite) scales, the models 1, 3, 5, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 41, 42 57 with white celluloid or ivory scales only.

the scales affected the price much more than the blade width. a dozen of the 1/1 134 with ebonite scales was SEK 189.60, a dozen of the tiny 29 (3/8) with ivory scales was SEK 338.40.

hope this helps a bit.

regards,
hans
 
Last edited:
i somehow deleted my reply a few minutes ago, so i'll keep it short and simple this time:

in 1957 heljestrand sold the following models (according to price list): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (full hollow); 7, 8, 10, 12 (half hollow); 22, 23, 24 (quarter hollow); 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34 (full hollow); 41, 42, 44 (quarter hollow); 45, 57 (half hollow); 133, 134 502, 504 (full hollow), 135, 136.

in 1957 most models were sold with white celluloid or "black rubber" (ebonite) scales, the models 1, 3, 5, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 41, 42 57 with white celluloid or ivory scales only.

the scales affected the price much more than the blade width. a dozen of the 1/1 134 with ebonite scales was SEK 189.60, a dozen of the tiny 29 (3/8) with ivory scales was SEK 338.40.

hope this helps a bit.

regards,
hans
Thanks for the information. Then again over the years Heljestrand changed the razors and their the model numbers regarding to size, grind, scales, heel and toe, well during the 1900's pretty much everything changed continuously.
 
I have to say PolarBeard has been amazing helping me in the Heljestrand MK hunt. I now own a 31 and a 4. Great razors. Perfect write up, thank you sir.
 

Ice-Man

Moderator Emeritus
I have to say PolarBeard has been amazing helping me in the Heljestrand MK hunt. I now own a 31 and a 4. Great razors. Perfect write up, thank you sir.
Sorry it wont stop there you will get more, trust me you have been bitten by the bear just to quote Arne's sig line....
I don't consider myself to be an an enabler but more a friendly soul guiding lost seekers into the light.

As he got me & other members hooked and I own a few now but seeking more as we all are, but I must admit they are fantastic razors they come very close to Sheffields....
 
Sorry it wont stop there you will get more, trust me you have been bitten by the bear just to quote Arne's sig line....
I don't consider myself to be an an enabler but more a friendly soul guiding lost seekers into the light.

As he got me & other members hooked and I own a few now but seeking more as we all are, but I must admit they are fantastic razors they come very close to Sheffields....
they come very close to Sheffields now there's a statement that I'd love to discuss over a drink or two. :001_smile Then again I admit that I've got some marvellous razors made in Sheffield (Bengall, S.Pearson&Sons, Wade&Butcher, J.Rodgers&Sons). There are one thing though that makes it difficult for me to talk about Sheffield razors as a group. The Sheffield razors were made over a far longer time span than any other razors and in very large quantities so the variation is huge between the early large wedge razors and the last ones that pretty much reminds me about Eskilstuna razors, but with a softer steel.
Eskilstuna razors made after 1900 are pretty much standardised (they are Swedish so of course they are) and made by workmen that most often knew each other, so the difference between makers is rather small, given the razor model. So if anyone is to choose between a Heljestrand and the same razor made by a small company, like Neiström, I strongly recommend to go for the less known and much cheaper option.

Anyhow two great towns that made great razors. I hope for a drink one day, but no bolt cutters.:001_tt2:
 
Top Bottom