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vintage shaving, way men shaved, vintage men's razor and shaving products.

Updated on October 2, 2012
Rasoir Acy a bronze razor from Bronze age
Rasoir Acy a bronze razor from Bronze age | Source
Honing stone, and straight razor
Honing stone, and straight razor | Source

History of razors

 Throughout history razors have been used to remove unwanted hair, at one time clamshells were use, shark’s teeth, and flint were sharpened and used for shaving. In the Bronze Age razors were made of obsidian, usually oval shaped. . In Egypt gold and copper razors were used as far back as the 4th millennium B.C. There are still tribes that use flint blade

The first modern razor—a straight razor—was made in Sheffield England. It had decorated handles in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1740 Benjamin Huntsman produced the first superior hard grade steel. Sheffield Steele is still considered superior by some especially in France.

The wealthy in the 18th and 19th centuries either had servants shave them or went to barbers. Daily shaving was not popular yet and many men didn’t shave at all. For those that did shave the straight razor was the most popular.

The vintage straight razor is not used much now except by barbers.

Chrome safety razor
Chrome safety razor | Source
Shaving brush
Shaving brush | Source

Safety razor

Although safety razors were available in other countries in America King C. Gillette introduced the double edge safety razor with replaceable-disposable blades. They were not as effective but became popular, partly due to promotion and safety. Gradually the blades improved to use stainless steel, which didn’t rust like previous blades did.

Shaving since the 19th century for men has gone from the straight razor, which today is mostly used by professional barbers, to safety razors, followed by disposable razors and electric razors. Technology has followed from plug in electrics to battery run shavers.

Until the advent of the electric razor when a man shaved it was usually done by lathering the face with a brush and soap. Later various shaving creams and foams replaced the soap. Some applied with a brush and others not.

Facial hair comic.
Facial hair comic. | Source

My experience

I personally have never used a straight razor, primarily because I was rather afraid of them. As it happens my father who was born in 1900 was technologically ahead of me in this regard, he used an electric razor. He died before I was at the age to start shaving and my first shaving attempt was with his electric razor. It pulled the hair and was uncomfortable. At the time I didn’t realize the blades were probably worn out or dull. It discouraged me from electric shaving and I turned to the now vintage double edge safety razor. Now I sometime still use one of those and some times a  disposable razors.

For the last couple of years I have wanted to buy a new shaving brush. Not too long ago I know Walmart did have them. For awhile it seemed that double edge razor blades were hard to find, although they seem to be readily available now.

My shaving habits have changed from time to time. Although I often use throw away razors I  still keep a razor that takes a double edge blade. It was being sold as an antique at a garage sale. I have used a shaving cup with shaving soup and a brush. A brush also works well to get lather and spread on the beard even when using a foam shaving cream. Unfortunately brushes in recent years have tended to be poor quality and the brush hairs fall out, which is my present situation. Mainly I shave my neck, under my chin. My beard I trim with hair clippers. The foam dispenser usually gives me more than I want  and a large amount ends up going down the drain. Also it  lathesr better with a brush.

Safety razor shaving kit
Safety razor shaving kit | Source
a tube of vintage burma shave cream
a tube of vintage burma shave cream | Source
Rasierstift--steptic pencil used for small cuts while shaving.
Rasierstift--steptic pencil used for small cuts while shaving. | Source
Burma shave signs on route 66
Burma shave signs on route 66 | Source

Shaving Nostalgia


Burma Shave signs are bit of  vintage nostalgia that I grew up with. They typically  a jingle on a sequence of signs with some humor or serious twist. On as  close as I remember was:

“The Man

Who passes

On hills and curves

Is not a man

Of iron nerves

He’s crazy”


I think many people my age and a bit younger miss those signs. They probably wouldn’t be good on the freeway though.

Hairstyles have changed over the years. Facial hair has come and gone and come back again, but shaving is still a part of our culture.

Magazines, Television and billboards still promote various shaving products but I still prefer a  vintage double edge razor and a brush, if I can find them.

What is your preferred method of shaving

See results


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    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Oddly my own father used an electric razor but I have always used a safety razor. I also use a brush except that it is hard to find one now.Thanks for commenting.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I remember my dad always used a brush and safety razor when he shaved and I'd forgotten all about this until coming upon your hub. I can still see it sitting on the bathroom counter. Interesting hub.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Peggy W

      I guess I am one of a few who still like a brush since they seem hard to buy now.Thanks for rating it and thanks for commenting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Interesting hub! Fairly gruesome image of what that barber pole represented! I remember seeing my grandfather use a brush like the one pictured above to lather his face prior to shaving. Rating this useful and up. Thanks!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thankd you for your comment. I remember my older brother used to talk about having hair removed but I don't think he ever did it.

    • howtoremovehair profile image


      7 years ago

      Hair removal is a major concern of men and women alike. But today's development paved way for the discovery of techniques on how to permanently become hair free.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you for visiting and commenting.

    • Becky Puetz profile image


      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very interesting hub. Like Rod, I've also heard that the origin of the barber pole goes back to the tradition of curling a bloody rag around a white pole to let people know the barber was in. We have come a long way, haven't we? Thanks for an awesome read.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids


      I haven't paid a lot of attention to the ads but I do like a brush whether used with soap or foam.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Rod Marsden

      The government was trying to improve neighborhoods back then and the result is they got worse.Your account about barbers may be true. I had thought that they were somewhat the medical persons of the time.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • samsons1 profile image


      7 years ago from Tennessee

      voted up! Good well written account. I've wanted to write on this and someday I might. Thanks for telling it like it is; I think there's too much 'hype' about the 4 and 5 blade disposables and the cost keeps going higher and they don't shave as well as a brush, shaving soap and a good Gillette adjustable safety razor like they gave us in boot camp...

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 

      7 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      Nice write-up, dahoglund,

      In England in the late 19th Century and again in the 1920s there were gangs known as razor gangs because their strong arm tactics involving the use of cut-throat razors. Strange you should mention gang members wanting and using razors back in the 1960s. I believe the Crays in England in the 1950s were into using razors with menace. I don't know so much about cut-throat razor use in gangs in the 1960s but the cut-throat razor began to appear about then in non-Hollywood horror flicks.

      I would say the first men to shave were not thinking about improving their looks but providing less hair for biting and annoying insect life to live in.

      I read somewhere that the origin of the barber pole as we know it goes back to the tradition of curling a bloody rag around a white pole to let people know the barber was in. In the beginning the barber did very little shaving of customers and little in the way of haircuts. His main trade was bleeding people to remove fever and other illnesses of the blood. He also pulled teeth. Me? I am glad we don't bleed people anymore and that modern dentistry has come a distance since those days.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I know what you mean. thanks for commenting.

    • wilbury4 profile image


      7 years ago from England I think?

      Those straight edge (cut throat) razors make me cringe, and the thought of someone else shaving me with one terrifies me, I'll stick with the disposable safety razor thanks.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I think tht happens quite often. thanks for commenting.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      I know a teenage girl who used to borrow her father's safety razor to shave her legs...then returned it to the cabinet without telling the man. Oh, the under-his-breath curses that would emanate from the bathroom the next time he shaved.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Oddly back in the sixties I ran across several straight edge razors a garage sales. I could never get up to trying them. I can't recall what I did with them but it occurred to me if I tried to sell them they would probably go to gang members--our neighborhood was getting a bit rough back then.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      One of my old buddies is a barber. Years ago at my request, he bought me a straight razor and a strop from his barber supply vendor. I used it for a couple of years, but then the new stainless steel blades came out and I abandoned the straight for the convenience and sharpness of the stainless blades.

      The new stainless blades last many times as long as anything in the past. Time marches on.

      Great Hub dahoglund!


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