Larkin Idea – guide to correct shaving.

The Larkin Idea a home improvement magazine and mail order sales catalogue from the late 19th and early 20th century. It helped propel the Larkin Company into gigantic mail order conglomerate in the early part of the 20th century. Today both the company and their “idea”1 is all but unknown, even if Larkin rivalled Sears at its height. While the story behind the company is intriguing, to say the least, it is not the focus today. Rather I want to show you a tutorial in four parts that was printed in the Larkin Idea in 1905. They refereed to it simply as “Correct Shaving”.

The first instalment of the series was printed in June, and the last in September. The first instalment covers selecting, maintaining and using your razor. Second instalment details lathering and the initial strokes. The third instalment talks about the remaining strokes. And finally the last instalment discusses post shave treatments.

And yes; all the razors, soaps, brushes, aftershaves, and needful accoutrements could be bought from the Larkins Company. For very affordable prices too… naturally.

Lesson One

Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, June 1905, page 6
Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, June 1905, page 7
Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, June 1905, page 8
Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, June 1905, page 9
Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, June 1905, page 10

Lesson two

Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, July 1905, page 7
Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, July 1905, page 8
Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, July 1905, page 9

Lesson Three

Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, August 1905, page 9
Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, August 1905, page 10
Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, August 1905, page 11

Lesson four

Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, September 1905, page 31
Reprint of a page from the Larkin Idea
The Larkin Idea, September 1905, page 32

Final thoughts

While none of the lessons contains anything new, this shouldn’t be too shocking considering the fact it was printed 116 years ago. All told it’s a fairly well written piece, and I particularly enjoyed the sections on the various strokes.

You can find quite a few volumes of the magazine over at the Internet Archive. If you like shaving history – and shaving patents in particular – I got a lot of posts about such things on my blog.

  1. The Larkin Idea can refer to two things. Firstly to their magazine. Secondly to the idea of selling directly to the consumers without going through middlemen.

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