This page documents what we know about Gillette safety razor serial numbers and date codes. Razors made in USA often left the factory with serial numbers or date codes, which can be used to establish their manufacturing dates. During certain periods some or all models were unmarked.
1903-1929 (serial numbers)
Production Year Serial Numbers Models Produced Notes 1903 n/a Double Ring (1903-1906) For notes on the early company history, see Gillette Timeline. 1904 1‑45424 Old Type (1904-1929, including Single Ring, Ball-End, etc.) Serial numbers did not begin until midway through the year, and an estimated 55,000 were produced without serial numbers. 1905 45425‑370424 1906 370425‑770424 1907 770425‑999999
1908 A195425‑A675857 Diamond logo in use on blades by September, and perhaps on some razors and sets during or after Christmas. 1909 A675858‑A999999
1910 B222221‑B697600 John J. Joyce buys out most of King Camp Gillette's stock. Gillette remains honorary president, but effectively retires. 1911 B697601‑B999999
1912 C80509‑C260238 1913 C260239‑C407806 1914 C407807‑C578360 Nickerson invents an improved automatic honing machine, allowing increased blade production. 1915 C578361‑C911806 Launch of Milady Décolleté, first women's razor. 1916 C911807‑C999999
Joyce retires to California, dies shortly afterward leaving controlling shares to John E. Aldred. 1917 D516475‑D999999
Military Sets Aldred reorganizes Gillette as a Delaware corporation. Annual sales exceed 1.1M razors. 1918 E449208‑E999999
All J Series are WWI production. Annual sales near 5M razors in 1918. "I" was not used as a serial number prefix. 1919 J7345‑J999999
Annual sales exceed 2.1M razors in 1920. "L" was not used as a serial number prefix as it had already been used to stamp razors returned for repair. 1921 N459887‑N999999
New Improved (1921-1929, including Bostonian, Big Fellow, etc.) "O" was not used as a serial number prefix. Original 1904 patents expire November 15, 1921. May launch of New Improved razor with new serial number format, starting with 1A. The Old Type continues as "Brownie" and various other sets, but without serial numbers. Annual sales exceed 4.2M razors. 1922 863913A‑999999A
1923 336677B‑391575B 1924 391576B‑485927B 1925 485928B‑602049B 1926 602050B‑770070B Gillette celebrates its 25th anniversary as a company. In Germany, competitor Roth-Buechner is purchased. 1927 770071B‑902611B From Oct 18 1927 to Aug 27 1928, there were no serial numbers used. 1928 1C‑94800C Serial numbers resume. Nickerson retires. Gillette develops Kroman blades, and declines to purchase a new strip-based blade design offered by Henry J. Gaisman (Auto Strop). 1929 94801C‑241755C The NEW (1929-1940?) Auto Strop begins selling Probak razors and blades, using Gaisman's new design. The Probak reaches the market before Gillette launches the NEW in 1930.
1930-1949 (the "NDC" years)
In 1930 Gillette stopped using serial numbers on razors. So razors made from 1930-49 can be difficult to date precisely. However, blades made in those years were stamped with a date code: A for 1930, B for 1931, etc., plus 1-4 for the year quarter. So "A-1" means January-March 1930. In 1950 this system was expanded to include razors, too (see below). If a vintage razor is found with its original blades, the blade codes can be used to establish a rough date for the razor. This is not 100% accurate, since the blades may not be original or may have been made before or after the razor.
Production Year Models Produced Notes 1930 The NEW (1929-1940?) Gold plated Big Fellow intro'd as NEW Big Boy Deluxe. In this year only De Luxe models were numbered, starting with 1-D, and often the final D was omitted. Kroman blade introduced. Patent fight and merger with Auto Strop. Stock falls from over $100 to below $30. 1931 Goodwill Henry J. Gaisman (Auto Stop) succeeds tainted management after financial scandals. Stock falls below $5. King Camp Gillette resigns as President. 1932 Blue Blade introduced. Death of King Camp Gillette on July 9, 1932 1933 1934 Gillette Aristocrat 1930s The Aristocrat becomes the first Gillette TTO razor. 1935 1936 1937 Sheraton 1938 3 Piece Tech (1938-1979) Senator Thin Blade introduced. Gaisman retires, succeeded by J.P. Spang, Jr. New emphasis on sports advertising. 1939 "World Series Special" Tech. 1940 Regent Tech Regent Tech introduced as the first closed-comb TTO. 1941 Aristocrat (1941, 1946-1951) Ranger Tech Milord (1941, 1946-1953) "Cavalcade of Sports" theme introduced. 1942 War Production Board orders dedicated military production for all razors and most blades. 1943 1944 War Production Board lifts orders late in 1944. 1945 1946 Aristocrat (1941, 1946-1951) Milord (1941, 1946-1953) Introduction of razor end caps. 1947 40s Style Super Speed (1947-1954) 1948 Introduction of notched post. 1949 First plastic case: red/clear styrene
1950-1988 (letter codes)The single-letter date codes are accompanied by a number, which corresponds to the quarter of the year. So 'O-1' means 1969, January-March. Date codes on blades (see above) also continued through this period.
Production Year Date Code Models Produced Notes 1950 V 3 Piece Tech (1938-1979) 40s Style Super Speed (1947-1954) Aristocrat (1941, 1946-1951) Milord (1941, 1946-1953) Razor Date Coding Begins with V-3 1951 W Black Tip Super Speed (1951-1952) 1952 X 1953 Y President 1954 Z Flare Tip Super Speed 40s Style Super Speed TV Special Z3 & Z4 1955 A Blue Tip and Red Tip Super Speed (1955-1960) 1956 B 1957 C Toggle (1957-1958, 1960) Toggle Goes on Sale Christmas '57 1958 D "Fat Boy" Adjustable 50s Style Super Speed TV Special 1959 E 1960 F Toggle (1957-1958, 1960) 195 Adjustable ("bottom dial") 1961 G "Slim" Adjustable Lady Gillette 1962 H 1963 I 1964 J 1965 K 1966 L Black Handle Super Speed The Knack (1966-1975) 1967 M 1968 N Black Handle Super Adjustable 1969 O 1970 P 1971 R Some razors produced with Gillette Date Code Q. Trac II introduced. 1972 S 1973 T 1974 U 1975 V Atra / Contour introduced. Good News disposable introduced. 1976 W 1977 X Black Handle Adjustable gets plastic bottom plate 1978 Y 1979 Z 1980 A 1981 B 1982 C 1983 D 1984 E 1985 F Atra Plus / Contour Plus introduced, with the first lube strips. 1986 G 1987 H 1988 I One of the last batch of USA made DE razors.