Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Big Surprise at Military Museum

A friend of mine is a military-history enthusiast. In his home he actually has an impressive collection of artifacts, information, and books on military history ranging from the Civil War through the Viet Nam conflict. I have written about this in a previous article on a World War II military razor.

Yesterday I played a tennis match against a third party, and that match was hosted by my historian friend at his local tennis court. Afterward he invited us back to his residence for dinner with him and his wife. After dinner I we got a tour of his expanded private collection, which has had an entire new room added.

Touring the WWII area and knowing of my interest in shaving, he mentioned that he had a new razor on display. He grabbed an olive drab package slightly smaller than the size of a deck of cards. The package was a bi-fold design, and when the semi-rigid side panels were opened, revealed the central panel with three olive-drab-cloth loops to hold a razor head, razor handle, and a shiny container that, at first glimpse, looked like a Zippo lighter.

This is a photo I grabbed from the Internet. The razor and  accompanying Zippo-lighter-like unit are pretty much the same as the razor that my friend has in his museum. A key difference is the outer case, which in this image is metal with black lining, but my friend's artifact has a much simpler olive-drab-cloth-covered semi-solid case with flaps that fold in and snap together.

The olive-drab container was in good shape except for the cloth loop that was to hold the razor's top cap and baseplate. This loop was unsecured and frayed at one end.

I examined the razor head, with it's open-comb baseplate, and suggested that it looked more likely to be a World War I razor. By the way, the razor was in amazingly good condition! Similarly, the Zippo-lighter-looking container was shiny bright and looked like new!

I confirmed the vintage of the razor when my friend opened the Zippo-like container to reveal that it was, not surprisingly, a blade holder. More importantly, it held a number of original, unused blades in near-new condition! The blades were the original Gillette style with the rounded ends and the three circular holes for centering the blade in the razor -- not the modern rectangular ends and zig-zag central opening to accommodate the many double-edge-razor designs that have been offered throughout the years.

This is a modern replica of the shaving kit in my friend's private museum. The razor and blades shown are all wrong (the razor  shown is a c.1948 Tech, and the blade package looks to be paper or cardboard). The case, however, is similar but not an exact reproduction of the real artifact. The stirrups in the real McCoy were olive drab and not elastic. The actual artifact also has labeling on the inside of one of the main flaps, and (presumably) the original owner's initials hand written in ink on the opposite flap.

The blades had writing on them to indicate that they were not to be re-sharpened. They were different than modern blades, however, in more than just their shape. They were shiny almost like they were chromed. They were also a bit thicker, feeling more substantial and less flexible than any blade manufactured today. For example, while it is quite easy to snap a modern blade in half so it can be used as a single-edge blade in the appropriate razor, it would be impossible to snap these vintage blades in the same way. It was also strange that they were not individually wrapped in paper, even though they were stored in this metal blade-holding container -- a storage method that may have had some negative effect on the exposed edges.

This is another pic I grabbed from the Internet, which shows blades similar to those that were in the military kit.

Unfortunately, I had left my phone/camera in my car thinking I would have no need for it, and, frankly, finding this rare vintage razor was such a pleasant surprise, I was completely focused on examining it. I had no thought of writing a blog article on it until later when I was back home. So then next time I'm at my friend's private museum, I'll take a couple of pictures of the actual artifact so readers can see the real article.

Happy shaving!

Razor Garage Sale Continues!!!

I'm continuing to offer my few remaining redundant razors, seeking a win-win solution. I win because I simplify my shaving gear, and you win because you get a good razor at a reduced cost.

Many have already taken advantage of the offerings. Don't wait or you may miss a good bargain.
Keep in mind that there are a few dollars of packaging and mailing costs embedded in the prices of my DE garage-sale razors, and there really isn't a lemon in the bunch.

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