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Advice: Superspeed Year?

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A Youtube viewer asks:
People have mentioned the Gillette Super Speed a LOT…You mentioned 40’s and 50’s maybe? I think you also said “that’s another video” Have you made that video? I *need* that video.
I have no idea what the difference between a 40’s and 50’s super speed is, why I should care, or what the price difference between various used products should be.
Any tips or links you can point me to?
No, I haven’t made a video about vintage DE’s yet. But I can say that the general agreement is that Gillette Superspeeds of the late 40s and early 50s are the most sought-after because they are considered the peak of razor engineering: the design was pretty much perfected and anything after that is considered either marketing or cost-savings changes (plastic parts for example). That’s not to say there are not perfectly fine examples of razors before or after though! I can’t give you good advice about costs because I don’t keep track of the market. Speaking strictly for myself though, I would not pay more than about $20 for a vintage razor of any type (even though I’ve seen them go for MUCH more).


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

5 thoughts on “Advice: Superspeed Year?”

  1. Wow.
    There was no “toggle-handled Aristocrat”. That was Gillette’s *first* Adjustable. And there are differences in the *shave* from the first Super Speeds on up…later the year, the milder the razor became. Discounting the red & blue tips, of course. (My current collection number over 80, mostly Gillette, razors, and I’ve used them all.) The first of the black “waffle” handled Super Speeds, 1980, are no where near the build quality of the first (1947) Super Speed; neither is the shave. As far as not caring about the differences, when you find a pristine 1950 V3 priced at what a run of the mill flare-tip goes for, you might start caring. Or a ’46 head on a Super Speed handle. Unless all you do is “teach”, then I reckon the point is rather moot.

  2. As for the key difference between 1940's Superspeed and 1950's Superspeed razors (both are commonly abbreviated to SS):

    – 40's SS razors have uniform cylindrical handles, straight up and down all the way along the handle;

    – 50's SS razors have the 'flare tip', obviously indicating that the twist-to-open knob at the base of the handle is flared out. These are the razors in the video Mantic has posted. The tips were colour coded to identify the aggression of each razor. The mild 50's SS had a blue tip, the medium one had a plain silver tip (same colour as the rest of the handle) and the most aggressive one had a red tip.

    This is the easiest way to tell the two generations of SS apart.

    In my experience with the 50's SS razors, the blue tips are the least common, but that's not to say they are highly collectible.

    As far as using them goes, I don't use any of my SS razors, save for my 50's red tip….and even then, it's not aggressive enough for my liking.

    Hope this helps a little.

  3. Thanks for posting the old ad, I happen to own all three of those razors and it's great to see them when they were new.

    I wouldn't say that Gillette razors hit their peak between the 1940s and 1950s. Having shaved with them I'd say you were 10 years early. Gillette (and razors in general) hit their peak with the adjustable line (I own all of those as well). Adjustables include the toggle-handled Aristocrat (heavy, rare, gold plated, expensive), the Fat Boy, the slim handle and the Super Adjustables. Super Adjustables have black handles and include a short handled version and three long handled versions: nickle plated head, gold plated head and one with a partly plastic head and handle. I don't recommend the long handle razors to beginners, they'll give you a good shave but they take a little skill to use. I don't recommend the short handle because it's too easy to think you're buying a short and end up with a long. Until they reset the vote count, the most popular on a forum were the Slim Handle, Fat Boy and Red Tip. My favorite is the Slim Handle because it's lighter than a Fat Boy and you can adjust it to shave the softest peach fuzz or the coarsest wire-beard; it's great for shavers of all skill levels.

    As for price, $20 might be just a little low but I don't go over $30 unless you really know what you're doing. Except for Welshi most new razors will cost over $30 and adjustables will cost almost twice that. Just be aware that if you're on eBay you may find yourself bidding on a first edition, vintage razor. Be patient, later editions shave just as well.

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