2 Vintage DE’s For The Beginner

Vintage

I admit it, I’m not a big fan of vintage razors.  I will grant you that for the most part they’re built very well and there are tons of them still around, easily found in internet auction sites, antique stores, and grand parent’s bathrooms.  But–speaking for myself–there are just too many unknowns about the true mechanical condition of a vintage razor for me to be confortable with recommending them to someone just getting into traditional shaving with a DE.

That said, I think there are two models of vintage DE razors that deserve at least a little love from me for the beginner: the Gillette SuperSpeed’s manufactured from the late 1940’s through the mid 1950’s, and the Shick Krona.

Late 40’s – Mid 50’s Gillette SuperSpeed

The Gillette SuperSpeed was introduced after World War II and production continued through the early 1970’s.  However it is generally (though definitely not universally!) agreed that it’s engineering probably peaked around 1955 (some extend that to about 1960).  After that I think engineers began to “over tweak” the design and the accountants began to get more involved in the production process.

Many consider these mid-1950’s razors to be not only solidly built but exceptionally smooth shavers.  I have shaved with a SuperSpeed from 1954 and another from 1960 and I could detect a definite difference, with the ’54 being noticably smoother.

How can you tell when a SuperSpeed was produced?  There’s a date code underneath the razor head.  A letter and a number: the letter corresponds to a year and the number corresponds to the calendar quarter of that year.  You can see a list of codes, along with some other notes and information, HERE.

Schick Krona

Schick Krona

Though Schick was mainly known for their Injector razor, they also produced a DE razor  from 1959 through 1965, the Krona.  Though not nearly as popular as Gillette DE’s, and manufactured with a metal razor head and a plastic handle, the Krona also has a reputation of being a smooth, forgiving razor for the beginner.  I’ve shaved with a couple different Krona razors and while they are quite a bit lighter than the all-metal SuperSpeeds (at least until Gillette started using plastic handles too) they have a good balance in the hand and give a mild shave (some say too mild and I admit it took a bit more effort from me to get a really close shave out of them).

mantic59 mantic59 (539 Posts)

also known as "Mantic59." Shave tutor and sharpologist.


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Comments

  1. If it was my father’s razor it would be okay, but I do not want someone else’s used razor. Kinda personal.

    • Received my Dad’s SS and the build and shave are outstanding. No plated razors built today can hold a candle to the engineering, and construction of these old razors. You are linked to an better, richer, more powerful America, of that era, while shaving with these classics too.

  2. David Packard says:

    ^
    I am getting great shaves from a recent purchase from Ebay. It is a Gillette Travel Tech, Ball End K2 (1965). I have substituted the travel handle with an Ikon Bulldog handle. Wow! The Gillette Tech is a real nice shave. If you have the chance to score one, in good shape, then I would suggest that you go for it.

    • I agree! The three-piece Tech gives a very mild and precise shave.

      When I started shaving, I was told to stay away from three-piece razors, because they were slow to set up and didn’t give a good shave. To the contrary, these have the tightest tolerance of any double-edge razor. “Keep it simple!”

  3. bruce terry says:

    I’ve only been DE shaving for about 7 months now and i started with an EJ DE89 but quickly moved to a 1960 Gillette Fatboy. Then the RAD took over and I’ve found myself in possession of several vintage Gillette’s and Gem’s. So far I believe I’ve received some of the best shaves from not only my EJ but my late 40’s Aristocrat/Regent (one of the end caps is missing) with just about any blade I’ve used in them.

  4. I’ve been shaving with double-edge razors for several months, starting off with my father’s SuperSpeeds (a ’55 blue tip and a ’62 flare tip [not a “flair” tip, although the flares have flair). I now have about two dozen razors, most of them vintage Gillettes, from the late 1930s through 1975 and ranging from a simple Tech to the Aristocrat (U.S.), President, Fat Boy, Slim, and Super. They’re all excellent razors. I have an Edwin Jagger DE87, four Cadets, two Parkers, and a Weishi. I think that Gillette got it right long ago. The adjustable Gillettes are particularly nice. If you don’t get the collecting bug, a Gillette Slim Adjustable in good condition is a lifetime razor.

  5. Bought a slim adjustable and never went back. For less than $30 it allowed me to use the lowest setting when starting out.

    The range of settings means nearly any blade is usable for me and let me find the cheapest blade for bulk purchases. The plethora of places offering replating services means it will never be in poor condition and the one piece construction means less parts for me to fumble and lose.

  6. Craig Crosby says:

    I’m brand new to traditional wet shaving. Having been fed up with the ridiculous cost of replacement cartridges for the plastic “wonders”. I had been in the market for a DE safety razor for about a month when, quite by accident, I stumbled across three vintage razors at an antique store while shopping with my girlfriend. One of which stood out quite nicely from the others. I bought it for $12 and took it home and cleaned it up. I picked up some blades from the local gentlemen’s supply store and gave her a try. I was absolutely amazed at how comfortable and close the shave was. Best in my life, hands down. After cleaning the razor, I noticed it said “Gillette”, “Y”, and “1” on the underside of the head. So, you can imagine my astonishment when I read the above article and dated my ignorant purchase to one of the two recommended vintage DE’s for newbies, around the height (1953) of their engineering best to boot! Thank you for your posts. I feel this is one of the very few places I may find reliable information about shaving, without someone trying to persuade me to purchase their product(s).

    • Nice! I have the same story – just started wet shaving. I saw a DE razor at an antique store and bought it for $12 also. Tried to figure out how old it was and was not successful until now. It is the 1905 “Single Ring” that was first introduced in Canada with the “Pat Mar7.05″ Pretty cool!

  7. My first razor was a Superspeed, a hand me down from my Dad. I used it for years and then moved on to a injector blade, catridge razors then a Braun electric. After discovering this site I pulled out the old superspeed and started using it again. I’ll never go back.
    Mine has no date code. I believe they had no serial numbers or date codes from 1931 to 1950. But my Mother believes Dad bought it in the late 40’s.
    I plan to purchas a new DE soon. Maybe a Merkur.

  8. AlphaNoob says:

    GEM micromatic, even though its not a DE its nice & simplistic for someone starting out. ( providing of course they arm their selves with tutorial videos & remember that shaving is not a drag race )

  9. shortymcsmalls says:

    I quite like my ’58 Super Speed, it really is a great razor. I’d recommend it to anyone looking to try DE shaving, and most can be had for $10-20 in really decent condition (though they will probably need cleaning at that price).

    • David Packard says:

      ^
      You are so right shortymcsmalls! I just received an Ebay purchase of a Gillette Super Speed, Flair Tip H4 (1962) that still had a blade in it (not making that up). It did clean up nicely and shaves wonderfully. Sometimes taking a chance pays off. I paid $7.00 for mine.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Sharpologist’s Vintage DEs for Beginners Article […]

  2. […] Another factor when buying double edge safety razor is its condition: new, vintage or used. A new one is just what it is. A used one has been used previously while vintage razors are those old stocks or used units that are already not in production. Used DE razors can be bought at 20% to 30% less to its new price and these seem to retain value very well. Vintage razors can be pricier depending on the seller’s knowledge and condition. Great examples of the best vintage DE razors include Gillette SuperSpeed and Schick Krona. […]

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