European vending machine safety razor

Some weeks ago I was made aware – through a post on my favorite shave forum – of the fact that you used to be able to buy double edged safety razors in vending machines in Europe up until the early 1980’s. Despite living in Europe – well, Scandinavia – this was news to me. Granted, I didn’t start to shave until the late eighties, but still… possible they were only available in Germany; at least that is the one place I can find references to actually seeing one.
Sadly, apart from some pictures I found online, I know virtually nothing about this one apart from that I can gleam from the photos.

So what do the pictures tell us?
  • It’s cheaply made, for starters – both the top cap and base plate is stamped sheet metal.
  • Top cap have a riveted screw to secure it to the handle, pressed ridges for added strength, as well as half punched out “hanging chads” for locating the blade.
  • The base plate is likely made from a simple stamping die – one punch and done.
  • The handle seems to be the one part that has any ‘real’ machining done to it – it’s likely made from hexagonal stock, with one end rounded off, the other turned down to a cylinder and tapped for the screw thread.
  • The handle is likely the most durable part of the razor – found one shaver online who like to use it with modern heads due to the weight of it.

I wish I know more about it… or even had one. If I had access to a half decently equipped metal workshop I could probably make some – as could any semi-decent machinist with a small press and a lathe – but there is no marked for a semi-disposable DE razor in this day and age.

Cold River Soap Works’ Glide Morning Ghost Cream – initial thoughs

Recently I got PIFed a tub of CRSW Glide Morning Ghost Cream Soap – thank you again Ricardo, for thinking of a European cut off from american artisan soaps by steep postage and import fees – and so far I’m pretty impressed. The scent is unique among my soaps; it’s my only vetiver soap so far.

If my fellow shavers on my favourite shave forum is anything to go by, Larry at CRSW have pretty much nailed it with the formulation for his GLIDE base – everyone seems more than pleased by the soaps qualities as a shave soap – the scents are more of a VMMW, but I can say with confidence that as far as my nose goes (and my Better Half’s too) he nailed it with Morning Ghost – I can’t speak for his other scents.

My first attempt with it taught me two things; load sparingly, and it’s a thirsty soap. Thick, heavy, slick lather, almost like putting toothpaste on… great post shave feel though, so thumbs up there.

Second go around was with more water and less soap, yet the lather was still thick, heavy and veeery smooth as I painted it on. The scent really opens up when it’s on the skin by the way.
Third time I think I dialed in the water fairly nicely, and loaded lightly too. Still got an explosion of creamy, lovely and smooth as cream lather.
So… is CRSW Glide worth getting? I would say a definite yes – it’s different than any of my other soaps, but in this case it’s good to be unique. If you can get your mitts on some, do it.
Is the Morning Ghost worth getting? Scent is definitely one of those Your Mileage May Vary things, but both my Better Half and myself agree that Morning Ghost is a pleasant scent. Not to heavy, not to light. Down to earth wood and citrus. I like it, and you might too.

Clemak safety razor

One of the things I love about poking around on the web is when I find something previously unknown to me; such as the British Clemak Safety Razor from before the Great War, in production until at least the early 1920’s, and quite possible beyond that.
Robert K Waits described the Clemak in his compendium as a single edged comb guard hoe type silver- or nickel-plated razor – much like the US GEM and EverReady razors – and states that it dates from 1908.

I do think that this advertisement is trying to push the idea that you could strop the Clemak once a week and have seven days of satisfying shaves. There are strong indications online that the Clemak used blades similar enough to the various GEMs and EverReady razors to be able to take a modern GEM blade – and the old style GEM blades were close enough to old wedge blades to take several rounds on the strop before wearing out.

Clemak was offered up – at least initially – as the cheaper and more British alternative to expensive safety razors, even if (as we’ll see later) it cost more than twice of the advertised five shilling if you wanted the full kit and kaboodle.
I figure we should go on a tangent right here for those less than familiar with old British coinage; one guinea was originally a gold coin worth one pound sterling, which was not minted after 1816. The name lived on and at the time of the Clemak it was referring to a value of one pound and one shilling – or about 21 shillings – which would be 1.05£ today (and keep in mind that the British resisted decimal currency because they figured it would be too complicated according to some of my sources). The guinea had an aristocratic overtone; professional fees and payment for land, horses, art, bespoke tailoring, furniture and other luxury items were often quoted in guineas – hence the question “Why pay a guinea?” – or in other words; why buy a luxery razor when the Clemak is just as good and affordable?

The images used in the advertisements points to the Clemak coming with an optional strop, as well as a selection of blades.

In 1908 the razor with seven blades cost 5 shilling (a little less than a quarter guinea), and if you wanted a dozen blades with your razor you would have to come up with 2 shilling 6 pence more. Which would point to a pack of blade contained five blades – which checks out since a pack of blade is mentioned as costing 2 shilling 6 pence.

If you wanted to go all out – the razor, a dozen blade, the stropping machine, and a hide strop – you would have to come up with 10 shilling 6 pence – or around 97GBP (135USD) when adjusted for inflation and the change to decimal currency. Not cheap by any means, but nowhere near the prices we have to pay for a high end razor today – and still just half of the one guinea they wonder why you should spend.

As British as Bulldogs and the British Army!