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Vintage leather strops

I’m looking at some on the auction site. Does anyone know the good vintage strops? What to look for? What not to look for? What are the numbers at the bottom? Was always curious what they meant.

Would One need to condition a vintage strop? I May get one.
 
I bought 3. And they were cheap 20 bucks or.so.each. and managed to get one really nice strop that is my go to.i just looked for condition although you can't really.tell how dried up.they are until you get em. I oiled the other 2 but they never worked out so I gave them away. I did manage to save the waxed linen which is worth something. The one I have is Russian shell. Didnt need anything other than a palm rub. I prefer it over my kanayama 70k and use it 95% of the time.
 

Steve56

Ask me about shaving naked!
Vintage strop leather is not worth it. People want way too much for them, and as @buca3152 said, buy three get a good one. For that money you can get a new lower tier Kanoyama or a Tony Miller. And you won’t have to soak the linen in gasoline to get the white paste with 50 years worth of attic grime out of it, and spend months rehydrating the leather which sometimes cannot be rehydrated.

I occasionally buy them, but it’s for the beautiful vintage hardware and sometimes the linen if it looks good. My basic buying assumption in most cases is that the leather is worthless.
 
Vintage strop leather is not worth it. People want way too much for them, and as @buca3152 said, buy three get a good one. For that money you can get a new lower tier Kanoyama or a Tony Miller. And you won’t have to soak the linen in gasoline to get the white paste with 50 years worth of attic grime out of it, and spend months rehydrating the leather which sometimes cannot be rehydrated.

I occasionally buy them, but it’s for the beautiful vintage hardware and sometimes the linen if it looks good. My basic buying assumption in most cases is that the leather is worthless.

Interesting. As I sip my cuppa now, I have to disagree. Go check out the numerous threads with gentleman restoring these strops. I have heard some say some of the leather is the best they have after restoring. Please share your vintage strops Steve.
 
I absolutely love Vintage Shell strops. After spending way to much time on the bay, you will develop an eye for the good and bad. You can sand a lot of horrors out of a piece of shell that you can't on top grain leather. I'm always on the look out for another one to work on. The supplies needed (lots of wet/dry paper) can get spendy but the results are well worth it. You won't be able to by a new one at that price......come to think of it, all my shaving equipment is vintage/restored except my synthetic hones.
 
Condition.

And literally NOTHING else.


Tips:

If the pictures are bad or don't show the whole thing. DO NOT BID. Ask for more pics. Sellers LOVE to list destroyed strops with damage hidden and pull the ol' "Its an antique, that's character, it's not for using" schtick.

Never expect the linen to be usable if it isn't NOS. Pastes are often hard to see and impossible to remove. And a lot of pastes used in the past are absolutely horrible. I'd say 50% of linens I've gotten were good.

NOS strops are usually really good, needing some (or a lot) of conditioning at worst... except occasionally one will be so dried out it's cracked itself to death and the cracks are only visible if you flex it a little... so not visible in pics. This is rare, but it happens. Make sure you can return a damaged strop.

An absolutely perfect minty cordovan/linen vintage strop is on par with (or imho a bit better than) ANY modern equivalent. SO they are a $100-300 or more value. They don't fetch that, so they are an excellent deal (I've seen MANY nearly NOS DD Cordovans, red imps, etc, go for under $100) if you get a good one. So definitely don't rule vintage strops out. But be prepared to rehydrate some drying. Be prepared to do some sanding if you don't avoid minor nicks and scuffs, and DO avoid any cut-throughs or gouges that are on the stropping surface (less worrying if right up near the hardware or grip, you can just avoid them, but cut throughs may rip the strop apart if your grip is tight, so be warned).


Oh and with respect to mink oil/neats foot/etc. You know the rule to just apply a tiny dab and rub it in the entire strop? That's for a healthy strop. These are often 100+ years of dried out. A tiny drop will absorb INSTANTLY into most vintage strops. I've used more than a quarter cup on a badly dried example before it stopped guzzling. In those cases I do a long streak top to bottom on one side and try to rub it in before it all soaks in (to get full coverage), flip and repeat on back, flip and repeat on front... continue until I actually have time to rub the oil around a bit before it all gets soaked in. Let the strop sit a few hours and THEN do the tiny dab and rub in (which will tell you if it's close or back to guzzling and you need to repeat).
 
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Let's do a case study of sorts:



Ok, Price? Great. If I can get a usable strop for that price, even after a little work, I'm happy.
Hardware? Hook is missing, but the important parts are there. No big deal.
Size/style? It's a real full strop, not one of those DE blade strops or anything like that.
Linen? Looks like a nice piece. Doesn't seem frayed, though you can't see the whole thing. Overall good condition... BUT Maybe pasted? Might be useless for me, but if not, looks like a nice linen.
Leather? They don't show the whole thing. Looks relatively recently used. Some old nicks that seem rubbed in and shouldn't be trouble. Light scratches, but nothing that I'd be worried about... BUT... I see some scaling and cracking in picture #4. That's usually from flexing/rolling a dried up strop, and it literally rips the surface apart into scales. That is unfixable as far as I know. I'd avoid this strop just based on that... but were that not there? I'd ask for pictures of the strop centers (linen and leather) and if they weren't bad, I'd buy this.
 
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Price? Still good.
Hardware? Still hook missing.
Size/Style? GOod
Linen? Almost not seen, but glipses suggest good shape but less clean than previous. Again, if not pasted, good.
Leather? Blurry pictures and only top and bottom shown close, but no obvious signs of damage and seller claims "Very good condition" and accepts returns

Worth asking seller for better/more pictures. Could be a diamond in the rough. If they gave better pictures and I didn't see any damage, definitely worth a snag and if any damage they didn't reveal turns up when it gets here... Not as described return.
 
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I’m looking at some on the auction site. Does anyone know the good vintage strops? What to look for? What not to look for? What are the numbers at the bottom? Was always curious what they meant.

Would One need to condition a vintage strop? I May get one.

Most vintage strops are very good if you can find one in good condition. The quality of leather is excellent.
You may need to do extensive work to restore one or just a little work if the leather is in good condition.
I just received another Red Imp two days ago.
Sellers photos.


The filthiest canvas I have ever seen!!
Needed lots of hydration, a light sanding, double soaking of canvas with scrubbing but now..

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My forth and last Red Imp
 
Just restored a nice Certifyd Russian shell. It was stiff as a board when I got but I fought off the urge to treat it with anything because it needed some sanding. Working with it while sanding seemed to release some inner moisture of some kind. It's now the most flexible strop I own and it's never had anything put on it! I'm so glad I didn't treat it with anything. The draw is crazy fast and buttery smooth. I skived and burnished the edges.....My wife even commented favorably......that's rare around here. Said I did a great job even. She said she even likes to fondle my stops when I'm not around. Hmmmm
 
Most vintage strops are very good if you can find one in good condition. The quality of leather is excellent.
You may need to do extensive work to restore one or just a little work if the leather is in good condition.
I just received another Red Imp two days ago.
Sellers photos.


The filthiest canvas I have ever seen!!
Needed lots of hydration, a light sanding, double soaking of canvas with scrubbing but now..

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My forth and last Red Imp

Beautiful! I have another strop coming in. I love restoring them.
 
That steal you got on the imp made me check eBay for strops... saw this one about to end and got it for a roughly $50 shipped offer. Woo.
Stonenstrop, you're gonna have to give me your secret for cleaning the linen. What choo doing, oxy clean soaks?

Now this is what I'm talking about with respect to vintage strops. You wont touch a nice shell and linen strop like this anywhere near $50 these days... and it looks like it's probably gonna be practically NOS with a little cleaning from these pics.

 
At an antique store, I picked up a Bresduck leather and linen strop that was missing the swivel/clip on the end. It was pretty slick/hard and had been coiled for a while (had a few nicks at the edge toward the bottom. I sanded out the nicks and then sanded the rest to blend (chamfered the edges), then gave it multiple soaks of 100% neatsfoot oil and hung it up (clamped about a 1lb weight to the end to help it relax the curl). I put the linen side in the dishwasher for a cycle and then scrubbed with a stiff brush and detergent and hung to dry. After a few days I waxed/buffed the leather with Lincoln paste wax for leather shoes. Now it's very soft and supple. I still need to go back and hit it with some more paste wax to help smoothen it a bit, but I think that may be over kill--in the end I think I spent nearly twice as much on the neatsfoot oil and polishing wax $16.00 than the strop, but I was able to put hands on the strop in a store versus the bay, which was way easier to judge condition.
 
At an antique store, I picked up a Bresduck leather and linen strop that was missing the swivel/clip on the end. It was pretty slick/hard and had been coiled for a while (had a few nicks at the edge toward the bottom. I sanded out the nicks and then sanded the rest to blend (chamfered the edges), then gave it multiple soaks of 100% neatsfoot oil and hung it up (clamped about a 1lb weight to the end to help it relax the curl). I put the linen side in the dishwasher for a cycle and then scrubbed with a stiff brush and detergent and hung to dry. After a few days I waxed/buffed the leather with Lincoln paste wax for leather shoes. Now it's very soft and supple. I still need to go back and hit it with some more paste wax to help smoothen it a bit, but I think that may be over kill--in the end I think I spent nearly twice as much on the neatsfoot oil and polishing wax $16.00 than the strop, but I was able to put hands on the strop in a store versus the bay, which was way easier to judge condition.

Pics please. Great work! Can’t wait to see the end product.
 
That steal you got on the imp made me check eBay for strops... saw this one about to end and got it for a roughly $50 shipped offer. Woo.
Stonenstrop, you're gonna have to give me your secret for cleaning the linen. What choo doing, oxy clean soaks?

Now this is what I'm talking about with respect to vintage strops. You wont touch a nice shell and linen strop like this anywhere near $50 these days... and it looks like it's probably gonna be practically NOS with a little cleaning from these pics.


Thanks, ya, pretty good deal.
I saw the one you got but its a 700 not 700c. I have a 700 and three 700c's. The top surface of the 700c is harder than the 700.
Otherwise they are identical. Both great strops!
I had my doubts about the linen, it was FILTHY.
Initial soak for a few hours (4-5) was in warm water with Ultra Oxy dish soap.
I use a stiff nylon brush and scrub in every direction on every mm both sides, rinse well.
Second soak immediately after was the same, maybe a little hotter, with a splash of bleach added. I left it overnight and scrubbed it again in the morning the exact same way. Rinse really well then rung it out by hand followed by hanging it with weight at the bottom to minimize shrinkage.
It came out pretty clean under a loupe, better than I thought.
I could probably have went a bit more bleach to whiten more, I only used a little, but because I was letting it soak all night I was worried about the affect of bleach over that time. It can degrade fabric but probably not in the 8-10 hours it sat.
I don't mind the vintage look:)
It was a very thirsty leather. Three heavy coats on the back and three very light on the front.
It is a GREAT strop that has a new life now. I love how fast and effective the Red Imps are.
I have one that was NOS a few years ago. I'd gladly pay Kanayama prices for NOS ones.
 
Another thing I forgot to mention.
Not sure if all the 700's come with it or not but the Irish linen is a hose/tube. They work just fine and are maybe even a little finer in use but I don't like the way they "buckle"
I have a mint one downstairs I don't use, I think came with my 700, switched it out for a full thickness from another vintage strop.
The 700c comes with a full thickness linen/cotton.
My favorite strops for sure.
 
I've got one or two red imps in storage, can't recall if they're 700's or 700c's. Now I'm hoping I've got a C to compare with. Never paid attention to the C, now I'm wondering what it signified... Maybe cordovan vs standard shell?


edit: Going through my emails, I've purchased 4 700c's between 2010 and 2020 and one 700 and one that I can't tell from the thumbnail in the email... Also sold at least two of the 700c's. Still, most likely what I've got in storage are C's. Fingers crossed.

(Checked some old photos and one is for sure a base-700, hoping there's a C in there too, but I did sell a C about a year ago, so that may have been the one I'm thinking of).
 
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