What's new

Travel kit

The Classic American-Style Leather Travel Case

Red Celluloid 1940's Set
Gold Celluloid 1940's set


  • Razor Holder: Celluloid, Catalin, glass or plastic two-piece holder (box and lid) for a three-piece or travel razor.
  • Soap Holder: Celluloid, Catalin, glass or plastic two-piece holder for bar soap.
  • Toothbrush Holder: Celluloid, Catalin, glass or plastic two-piece holder for a toothbrush. Important! Most modern toothbrushes will not fit in these holders; they are a millimeter or two too long. Improvisation is required.
  • Aux. Holders: Celluloid, Catalin, glass or plastic two-piece holder for extra items like travel-sized toothpaste. Also good for carrying cologne samples or small tubes/jars of moisturizer, etc. Unfortunately, these are never big enough to accommodate a roll-on deodorant.
  • Glass Bottle: Tall square glass bottle with a plastic screw-on cap. Usually in the 2 oz. range. The size alone makes this most useful for After-shave splashes, which are cheap and plentiful enough that you can spare two ounces to carry around. Hair tonic, like Jeris, is another traditional load. Shower gels and other thicker liquids can be added to these jars, but make very, very sure the liquid is thin enough, or diluted enough, to be pourable.
  • Manicure Equipment: Metal nail file, emery boards and those pointy wooden sticks. These are usually fitted into the top half of the kit, in slots adjacent to the mirror holder.
  • Mirror: Small 2x3 inch one-sided mirror. These are sometimes framed in metal and even less frequently come with a folding frame. Usually these are slid into a long leather strap on the top half of the case.
  • Brushes: One of the things that make this style of kit so widely admired, and justifiably so, are the fine brushes that came with them. Early kits from the 1920?s and 30?s often had beautiful stamped military style oval brushes of exotic woods or ebony, filled with Pure Bristle. Later brushes, in kits from the 1940?s and 50?s, were rectangular in shape with rounded corners, in order to use the storage straps. These too were made of good woods, often lacquered, and again, filled with Pure Bristle. It was not unknown to see kits which wood brushes with nylon bristles, and indeed, by the 1960's nylon brushes were very common.

The Classic English-Style Leather Travel Case

Elements: Unlike traditionally American-style kits, which were always more geared towards grooming than shaving, English kits at least tried to meld the two, providing space and containers for a wide-range of grooming and shaving requisites. Unfortunately, given the size limitations of these kits that meant, that in practice, there was never a "set" type of kit or even general agreement on what should be included.
For collectors and modern users this means that there are a wide, wide range of potential style to choose from, with the caveat that some of theitems included or left out of any particular style of kit may seem random or counter-intuitive.

  • Razor Holder: Razors are one of the most basic differences between American and English-style kits. While American kits merely provide a vaguely razor-sized celluloid case to hold an existing razor, most English sets provided a razor, often in a nice metal case. These razors could range from genuine English-made Gillettes to similar design made by Wilkinson and other European brands. Kits made by Wardonia usually came with the famous Wardonia Bakelite razor in a travel case. The highest end kits would offer luxury razors, like the Gillette No. 77, with their corresponding presentation cases and blade cases.
  • Soap Holder: A rectangular two-piece case for bar soap. Only so much you can do with this one.
  • Toothbrush Holder: Two-piece toothbrush holders were usually included in these kits, the main difference between the American and English-styles being that English kits usually had round, rather than square holders and they were almost always glass or metal, rather than celluloid or similar resins.
  • Aux. Holders:
  • Glass Bottle:
  • Manicure Equipment:
  • Mirror:
  • Brushes: Not surprisingly English cases usually carried the classic, iconic, "English Oval" military-type hairbrush.

The Classic English-Style Leather Shaving Case

English Two-Tix Calf-skin Set

Elements: The English are the only one of the major travel-kit producing countries that ever really made an effort to produce a shaving kit, rather than a grooming or "dual-purpose" kit. These came in two main styles, the flat two-sided zipper kit, like those made by Two-Tix, and the oval, zippered, binocular-case style kits. Always leather, and in the case of the Two-Tix, top cowhide, these cases included an assortment of tubes, either stainless or bakelite, a mirror, and less often a brush and other ancillary loads.

  • Razor Holder: As noted above the English were very good about providing the razor in these types of kits. Anything from a real English-made Gillette, to a Wilkinson or Star, to a bakelite Wardonia can be found in these kits. While cases are common, more common is a simple leather loop strap for the razor's handle near the center of the kit, usually between the two tubes. A variant of this provides two loops, one for the handle and one for the head and base, or a small stack of wrapped blades.
  • Toothbrush Holder: Not surprisingly these are much more common on the traditional flat kit than on the taller, narrower binoculars-style of kit.
  • Aux. Holders: One of the coolest parts of a real English kits are the tiny two-piece screw-top Bakelite "bullets" that come in many of these kits. Meant to hold small (1 inch) pieces of styptic pencil, they are a wonderful convenience while traveling. If you dont use a styptic pencil for shaving these small cases will also safely hold cologne samples or other small vials.
  • Mirror:
  • Brushes:

Comparison of Styles

Classic American Style, Leather

  • Pros: Sturdy leather case and reasonably sturdy holders. Individual holders for wet items. Smaller luggage footprint than DOPP kit. Kits available for many different styles--classic 1940?s, jet-age 1950?s, swinging 1960?s--with unique styles of holders, materials, leathers for each period.
  • Cons: Kit not water-proof. Weird assortment of holders does not correspond to the material needs of the modern traveler. Requires modification or customization in order to carry a modern load-out. Almost impossible to get all your gear (grooming and shaving) into a single kit.

Classic DOPP Kit

  • Pros: Two words?kitchen sink. Will hold a massive amount of stuff. Unlike most other styles of vintage kits, DOPP kits have space for any format of modern deodorant, as well as smaller ancillary items, like toothpaste, which are often left out of traditional leather kits.
  • Cons: No organization, no control. Valuable or fragile items have to be placed in sealed cases to ensure even a chance at survival. Potential for an ungodly mess if containers or bottles, bags, etc. break or split.

Folding, Hanging Toilet Kit

  • Pros: excellent in cramped spaces or for small sinks with no counter. Well organized compartments. Available in numerous sizes.
  • Cons: Difficult to get to multiple items without deploying them to the counter or a table. Some potential for a mess if items leak or break. Not crush-resistant.

See Also

This page has been seen 9,056 times.

Recent Activity

Icon Legend

  • Normal page
  • Color code

    • Content has new updates
    • Content has no updates

Share This Page

Top Bottom