The term “unobtainium” is common with collectors and is often referenced in posts regarding hard to find items that may or may not cost big bucks when resold. These items can often be followed by extreme hype, through the use of forums, online wet shaving groups and meetups.
What Exactly does “Unobtainium” Mean?
In this article I’ll explain what “unobtanium” means when referenced in the wet shaving world and provide several examples in today’s wet shaving market. I’ll discuss the “dos and don’ts” when trying to acquire some as well as what things to look for for future unobtanium.
According to the oxford dictionary:
“Unobtainium:: A highly desirable material that is hypothetical, scientifically impossible, extremely rare, costly, or fictional, or has some of these properties in combination.”
In short, something that is very rare, possibly very expensive or fictional. In the wet shaving world this is usually referred to popular items that were/are limited in production and highly desirable by collectors/users alike. This could be a limited edition soap and aftershave set or a limited production razor or even a shaving brush. These items may not be able to change your life They may not even be that good or life changing, but are very rare, or no longer made.
Examples of Unobtainium Products
Below are some examples of popular items that many wet shavers would consider unobtanium. Remember that with all products YMMV on both performance and desire to own.
Passiflora Shave Soap by Barrister and Mann and The Shave Shop
This might be one of the most valuable artisan soaps of all time. In 2016, The Shave Shop decided to try a new ”members only” entity called “The Club”. For a fee, members would receive discounts on shipping and priority access to exclusive products that were made in limited batches. Their first release was a collaboration soap with Barrister and Mann called Passiflora.
Unfortunately, this new partnership did not work out and after some back and forth conversations it was decided that Passiflora be discontinued. Only 150 pucks of Passiflora were made.
News of the limited release, fallout between the artisans and performance of the soap spread pretty quickly. It was common to see Passiflora sell for more than $200 second hand and even today still creates excitement when posted in SOTD (Shave of The Day) pictures.
The scent profile included: hints of passion fruit, galbanum, cinnamon, bergamot, rose, geranium, lavender, and tonka bean.
P.160 Shave Soap
P.160 was an Italian shave soap that was made for Italian barber shops. It received rave reviews from Italian master barbers and was often advertised as their top choice used in their barber shops.
The scent profile was nothing over the top with hints of marzipan and fresh cherries.
In the Fall of 2009 or 2010 the production company who makes P.160 shut down (which is a typical practice for production companies in Italy) for the holidays and never reopened as the master soapmaker retired, or so the story goes.
There were two types made: Tipo Morbido (soft version) or the Tipo Duro (hard version) .
Now around 10 years later, a 1 kg block of P.160 can fetch a pretty penny. If you’re looking for an alternative, RazoRock makes their version of P.160 which is readily available and very affordable.
Wiborg Shaving Brushes:
Wiborg is a very small shave brush company located in Germany. It’s a one man shop and out of all the items listed, Wiborg is still technically being made although you have a better chance of winning the lottery that acquiring one direct from the manufacturer.
Last year an aquainatanbice of mine posted a photo of his brand new Wiborg Shave brush. In his post he mentioned that he sent an email inquiring about a brush three years prior and was contacted regarding the order out of the blue. He ordered the brush and waited an additional 2 months to receive it.
These brushes in any shape, size or design tend to go very high on ebay auctions sometimes well over triple original msrp.
The LASSC BBS-1
I’ve mentioned this razor before. With only 441 made (421 Stainless steel and 20 Titanium) the BBS-1 was a collaboration between Wolfman Razors and the Los Angeles Shave Soap Company. Made in extremely limited batches the popularity grew with this razor and a waitlist was soon created to control the demand.
Unfortunately the partnership between Wolfman and LASSC ended after some discussion back in December of 2017 and the BBS-1 was discontinued forever.
With only a limited amount made (and the razor being discontinued) the BBS-1 still goes for 4 figures at auction so the demand for this razor is still very high.
Although the BBS-1 is no longer made Wolfman now produces the WR2 which is based off a similar design. I wouldn’t hold my breath as the WR2 is made in extremely limited batches and still hard to come by.
You can read more about the BBS-1 here.
How Can I get My Hands on Some?
Getting your hands on some unobtanium products really depends on the amount of effort your willing to put into it. Not all of us are fortunate enough to have endless funds, so patience and doing your “homework” will greatly increase your chances in obtaining some. I like to follow a list of “dos and don’ts”. Here they are:
- Get to know the product better than anyone else.
Research the item you’re desiring and read/watch everything you can on it. Watch videos, read reviews and know the product inside and out. This will help you when negotiating the deal and will also keep the dream alive.
- Contact the Manufacturer if possible.
If the company is still in business maybe shoot them an email expressing your interest. You never know they may have an extra one laying around or may have a similar product. They may even share some interesting information about it or can offer some insight on a similar product still in production.
- Hang Around People that have one
Is there a Facebook group or instagram page dedicated to your Unobtanium dream? If so join. Introduce yourself to some people that own one and tell them you’re interest. Chances are the know other owners that may be willing to sell or trade.
In addition, check to see if there are any online registries. These registerires are where collectors list their item usually by serial number, location and the user name of the owner. You can contact these members and ask if they are willing to sell or trade. Do this with caution, as collectors who are not actively selling may need a very high offer to get their interest. Some forums may even have pages dedicated to rare and valuable items.
- Use a “Sob” story To Obtain Goods.
It’s considered very rude to try and obtain goods through the use of a story that’s looking for sympathy. Believe it or not, the owners of unobtanium get these quite often and I most of them have heard it all. Chances are you are just annoying them and will be the subject of multiple PM’s to other wet shaving collectors. Bottom line is most will think your story and a ploy to get the goods they worked hard for.
- Make an Offer that you can’t immediately commit to.
Picture this scenario: You finally made the deal on getting an unobtanium product that’s been on your radar for quite some time. You make an offer and the other person accepts. You’re ecstatic and and can’t wait to receive it until you realize that your offer was way out of your budget. Going back on the deal may get you out of trouble but it’s a great way to ruin your reputation.
Bottom line is, if you can’t commit to the deal then hold off until you can. If you say you’ll pay/trade in a certain time period, then make sure you do. The last thing people want is to feel cheated when buying and selling.
- Don’t bash the manufacturer or anyone else if it doesn’t work out.
Did you contact the manufacturer and he or she did not answer back or give you the information you were looking for? Did you make an offer that was refused?
Let’s be honest, not everything will work out in your favor and not everyone will be as polite or as timely with their responses. Remember that if they obtain something that is considered unobtanium, there’s a good chance they’ve received offers for it.
Is It Worth It?
I’m a firm believer of the old saying “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” . When discussing unobtainium in wet shaving, it’s worth as much as your willing to pay for it.
Will all your dreams will come true if you get a piece of unobtanium? Probably not. Sometimes the thrill of the hunt is better than actually catching it. Whatever your reason, with enough patience and dedication, you’ll get what you desire and may even make friends along the way.
Whether or not collecting unobtanium is for you, remember to have fun!
About The Author:
Joe Borrelli is a long-time wet shaving enthusiast and collector. He hosts the Wet Shaving News/Talk Podcast, runs his own self-funded website http://shavestraightandsafe.com/ and operates a YouTube channel to help inform the community of new information involving the wet shaving world. Joe holds a BBA from Florida Atlantic University, and currently works for the nation’s largest wine/spirits/beer retailer. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife Linda & son Anthony, reading, writing, outdoor activities and collecting wet shaving apparel. Joe has also written several dozen articles for online publications such as Sharpologist and How to Grow a Mustache. Find out more about Joe here.