Shave of the day 23rd May

Razor: Tatara Masamune
Blade: Wilkinson Sword
Brush: Artesania Romera Manchurian Badger, imitation horn
Pre-Shave: The Lavish Gentleman Natural Strength Oil Cleanser
Lather: Mike’s Natural Soaps Lemongrass & Eucalyptus
Aftershave: Myrsol Aqua De Limón
Additional Care: Alum Block & BullDog Original Beard Balm

Warner Self-Soaping Brush

This epochal invention – the Warner Fountain Shaving Brush – carries it’s cream in the handle, as a a fountain pen holds ink. When you turn the control the cream is released in the bristles. Then dip the brush in water and it lathers copiously.
To shave this way, a man doesn’t have to soap his brush or his face – or to whip up lather in a shaving mug. This new way appeals espesially to men who find a stick or tube bothersome – ofttimes the tiny tube cap gets lost on the floor.
The Warner Fountain Shaving Brush ends all annoyance and tinkering. It’s the team-mate of any razor – and ranks with the safety razor in convenience.

Some poor copywriter, 1918

The self-lathering – or self feeding – shaving brush is an idea that keeps popping up again and again.. I’ve earlier touched upon a self feeding shaving brush from 1849, another self-feeding shaving brush from 1907, a shaving brush suitable for travel from 1922, a soap-dispensing shaving brush from 1929, a fountain shaving brush from 1931, as well as a trio of shaving brushes for use with canned foam. While the brush sponsored by Mr A. P. Walter – known to million s of men, already, through the Warner Speedometer and the Warner Lenz – is a fairly standard as far as fountain brushes goes, it does use cartridges of cream, freeing the shaver of the chore of manually filling the handle with cream.

Speaking of the cream; Warner apparently teamed up with the manufacturer of the far-famed Mennen’s Shaving Cream – fresh cartridges with enough cream for two to three months of shaving available at any dealer for a mere 35 cents.

According to the advertisements, the knot itself was a celebrated Rubberset brush – soft and thick bristles set in a bed of vulcanised rubber, guarantied by both the Rubberset makers and by Warner. The knot was detachable and easily sterilised (just “…drop in boiling water”), and the nozzle that delivered the cream into the knot was self sealing to prevent the cream from drying out.

Enough of Warner’s Fountain Brushes must have been sold for the brush to show up on online auctions sites from time to time… but given how pristine the boxes sometimes looks I’m not convinced they saw a lot of use – possible it was better as a Father Day gift when you were out of ideas than an actual daily driver in the bathroom?

An interesting paper on shaving and razors

The shaving ritual, then, is much more than a simple mechanical act involving the removal of facial hair. It is also, and perhaps more so, a ritualized performance by which a human male creates one specific modern masculine gender value — clean-shavenness — through the appropriation of other masculine values from the objects used, as a means of integrating his imaged self with the ideal self as expressed through advertising. And when enough men perform this act of appropriation or integration often enough and long enough, every element of the ritual becomes increasingly embedded as a cultural norm, and in turn becomes a signifier of the thing once signified.

Razors, Shaving and Gender Construction: An Inquiry into the Material Culture of Shaving, by G. Bruce Retallack from the University of Toronto

I was looking for a funny advertisement or something like that to snark on, as I often do. What I did find was an interesting paper exploring the processes and material components of the particular grooming practice we engage in that both reflects and reinforces traditional gender distinctions – namely shaving.

By extension, razors become themselves signifiers of gender, and can be used as such in other contexts. If a man finds a woman’s razor in his son’s dorm room, he will very likely assume that his progeny has had an overnight female guest. The same is true, although less so, if the genders are reversed

Razors, Shaving and Gender Construction: An Inquiry into the Material Culture of Shaving, by G. Bruce Retallack from the University of Toronto

It is fairly long, but also fairly easy to read. If you got half an hour or so, and have an interest in both the history and practice of shaving with a razor, you can spend it worse ways than getting yourself a drink and read it.

Razors, Shaving and Gender Construction: An Inquiry into the Material Culture of Shaving
G. Bruce Retallack
University of Toronto