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The Science of Shaving; Homo Sum; W.Heffer & Sons Ltd; Cambridge, England; 1931

SiBurning

Contributor
Finally found an online copy today. Been looking for this for a long time. It's under the Creative Commons license, so it'll (hopefully) remain available.
http://dbooks.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/books/PDFs/503203287.pdf

Had a chance to read it. I'm thinking the Latin playwright to whom the "Homo Sum" quote is generally attributed is best known for his comedies.
 
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I just had to bump this thread to promote the watching of the video in post #2. Gotta love the music, and the narrator. It's only 2-3 minutes long. But it is quite amusing, IMO.
 
Finally found an online copy today. Been looking for this for a long time. It's under the Creative Commons license, so it'll (hopefully) remain available.
http://dbooks.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/books/PDFs/503203287.pdf

Had a chance to read it. I'm thinking the Latin playwright to whom the "Homo Sum" quote is generally attributed is best known for his comedies.
Or consider "Homo Sum" as another way to write "Anonymous". The author frequently mentions Cambridge, where the students have a rich tradition of humor. That is what they call it, anyway, and his seems typical. And I think I detect the influence of Jerome K. Jerome. For anyone who has not had the pleasure, his Three Men in a Boat is a classic.

Anyway while there is not much science in this pamphlet, there are several funny and interesting remarks. The author would fit in pretty well around here. Sadly it seems unlikely that he would still be alive.

Too bad there is no text layer in the PDF: we would probably have a livelier discussion if we could copy and paste quotations. So far my favorite is "...physiologists tell me that men who are naturally beardless are very ill-adapted for experiments in polygamy." On the one hand that tragedy is not mine. On the other hand, the thought of more than one SWMBO under one roof....

The description of brushless barbers in Germany is interesting. From what I have at History of the shaving brush I believe that brushes were in use in France by 1750, if not earlier. It is somewhat better documented that London barbershops saw their first brushes in 1756, and quickly became commonplace. Before that, London barbers also lathered their customers by hand. I presume the German barbers were forced to go back to the old ways after some outbreak of communicable disease, traced to barber brushes.

It was nice to see an allusion to the Williams Holder Top and Colgate Handy Grip packages for shave sticks. He might even be helping me place my Erasmic stick, since it is also a holder-top and he mentions the design as limited to two American companies.

He was able to use brushless creams with a straight, but not with a safety razor. Anyone had a similar experience?

From the brush discussion it seems clear that he was basically a face-latherer at heart, and lacked access to a badger brush designed for that purpose. His misfortune saddened me.

He mentions brushes with rubber bristles, which are new to me. Has anyone seen a rubber-bristle brush? 1931 is too early for nylon.

Another good quote: "...the nuisance of shaving is that too often it cannot be performed in meditative leisure...". I find myself skeptical of his accompanying claim to prep his stubble in 22 seconds, but then he prohibits shaving ATG so perhaps he was able to get away with this.

What do folks make of the bit about breech-loader vs muzzle-loader safety razors, on p29? Is he complaining about particular SE designs, maybe 1912 vs 1924? He mentions stropping-handles a bit later, so that might be it. Or does he mean the difference in handle design between, say, a single ring and a ball-end NEW?

Proto-YMMV: "Each explorer must hew his own track, and I am quite willing to believe that there is more than one pathway to the goal. Men, very rational men, have spoken to me enthusiastically about shaving-apparatus which I had found detestable." Men talked about shaving, then?

Our fellow addict of the razor closes by mentioning http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bismuth_subgallate. Go ahead, read the wikipedia article. Then tell me you plan to try it on your next cut. It is supposed to be a disinfectant, at least.
 

SiBurning

Contributor
Bismuth subgallate is used in periodontic surgery, tonsillectomies, and laboratory rats. But I had that same gross thought when I first looked it up.
 
Glancing through the PDF again, I happened to notice that the metadata for The Science of Shaving lists the author as "Østergaard, Vilhelm (1852-1928)". Probably this is an error due to the pseudonym "Homo Sum", which Østergaard also used. But it seems unlikely that a Dane in his 70s, who never published in English and never went to college, would emulate a breezy Cambridge undergraduate so well.

I reported the error to the folks maintaining the digital catalog for the Bodleian library, and I thought I would mention it here as well.
 
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Chan Eil Whiskers

Fumbling about.
This 1959 video from British Pathe is also worth a look
Beard Research
The book is still there to be downloaded. I read a bit of it, and enjoyed it. The rest will be read later. It's a nice piece of work. Thanks.

My Macbook pro computer didn't like that video, but there's a more technologically modern version. Here's the YouTube link.

Or, watch it here.


Hard to beat this video.

Happy shaves,

Jim
 
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