Straight Razors For Shaving
Straight razors have changed a lot since they were first introduced in the 16th century. There is even evidence to say razors were being used as far back as the 4th millennium BC in Egypt! Nevertheless, let’s take a look at the brief history of the straight razor. Straight razors were one of the main means of shaving since the 1500s. During the 1500s to the 1600s, straight razors looked more like small axes than a man’s shaving tool. There were no manufacturers, makers or brands, and they were made by blacksmiths and anyone who knows how to handle iron works. Shaving with one was a daily ritual, passed down from generation to generation and defined the masculinity amongst men.
Pre-1800s: The Beginning
It only started to take form and look like a cruddier version of today’s straight razors before the 1800s. The blades were made out of iron, there were no shoulders, and the handles were made out of tortoise shell, horn, wood, bone and even ivory. The blades were wide and there were no tangs. It looked pretty stubby. During the period of 1800 to 1820, motifs and decorations began to appear pressed on handles made of horn or tortoise shell. The blades were wedge-shaped, and shoulders were formed.
1820s-1830s: The Development
During 1820 to 1830, Michael Faraday introduced the used of silver steel (99.98% steel and 0.02% silver), and hollow grinding were done around 1825, which some say marked the peak of the straight razor. Royal houses would have blacksmiths embellish their royal emblems on the handles of the straight razors. Tangs were slowly developed and were called ‘Jimps’, and it helped to aid with the handling of the straight razor.
1830s-1840s: Taking Form
During 1830 to 1840, straight razors were further developed and looked even more refined. During these times, silver steel took over cast steel as the main material for blades. Blades are now often etched with designs and slogans, as well as the handles. During this period, the handles slowly formed to the bow shape that we see most straight razors have today. During 1840 to 1850, this is when straight razors were made to look beautiful aesthetically. Various designing techniques such as penning were made to pattern the blades and the handles.
1850s-1870s: The Inner Beauty Surfaces
The 1850s to 1870s marked the age where truly beautiful straight razors were developed with fancy designs spreading to the tangs and the spine. Frame-back razors were very popular and so was wedged straight razors. In 1870 to 1880, celluloid handles were introduced, and hollow grinding reached its final development stage. In 1880 to 1900, blades were forged by machines, and finishes like “gold wash” were introduced. 1900s-Present: Art The 1900s marked the zenith of the straight razor. They became very popular, and their appearance very much resembles what they look like today, refined & exclusive. In the past, most men could not afford to get a straight razor shave and oftentimes was reserved for special occasions or for the wealthy. In fact, razors were one of the many items found in the tombs of Egyptian royalties made of jewel encrusted gold. Till today, straight razors remain popular amongst collectors, as well as men who prefer the manly shaving experience – by using unprotected, super sharp straight razors, which was once reserved for the exclusive & the royal.