08-15-2013, 07:17 PM
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Every now and then we run across vintage brushes and we wonder how old are they? Were they made in the 1950s, 1940s or even further back than that.

One of the major milestone markers to assist in determining the manufacture date for vintage brushes is if they have the term "Sterilized" on the handle, either in a sticker, etched or painted on it. The death of former U.S. Congresman Michael F. Farley of New York from an anthrax infested shaving brush forced most U.S. brush makers to begin to switch from horse to badger or boar and use a sterilization process on their brushes.

Here is the NY Times article published in October 1921.


After 1921 you begin to see brushes with "Sterilized" and so it is easier to know if a brush that was manufactured before or after that time can be at least identified as pre-1921 or post-1921 by that word.

Now several months ago, I received a brush that looked interesting so I decided to do a little research to find out what I had. Here are some viewes of the brush as received.

[Image: 9521523220_bfb7e1182d_b.jpg]

I found that this brush was in manufacturing at least as far back as 1909 with an ad with the same brush in the background.

[Image: 9518733749_a16e3848a3_b.jpg]

Now the brush I received had the word "Sterilized" so I knew it was made after 1921. After researching more old advertisements, I found that this design carried through in various incarnations of either white or black handle top halves through the 1920s and early 1930s with the same wording and placement location as the one I have. In the late 1930s and in the post World War II the designs have changed into some of the brush types we see quite often on the forums. So I am very confident that this particular brush dates back to at least the mid 1930s and maybe as far back as 1922. So I decided that not only did this handle have solid potential in terms of grip and size, but also had a solid historical pedigree, and those aspects make it a great candidate to restore. There was one small area on the handle that was nicked up slightly. Other than that, it was in great structural condition for a brush of its age. So the work began and the handle was cleaned out and polished.

[Image: 9518734079_73d5434f0c_b.jpg]

I decided after measurements to select the ACE 19 mm short loft Finest knot which would allow me to take advantage of the smaller space constraints that this handle had and the fact that there was a metal retaining ring which prevented additional expansion to fit the glue bump in further to support a longer lofted knot.

Now, when I decided to restore the paint I only used one application to allow the letters to retain an aged worn look but most of the letters could be clearly made out. Using several pennies for shimming and ballast the knot was set today at the measurement as provided in the final photo below.

[Image: 9521521212_79f255a776_b.jpg]

Now it will take about 24 - 36 hours to fully cure and it will be ready to use, if I so desire.

Thanks for your time in reading this.

1 2,827
 08-15-2013, 07:22 PM
  • Agravic
  • Emeritus
  • Pennsylvania, USA
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Gary, as always an enjoyable read and lovely photos of a great restoration! Thank in particular for giving the historical background ... very interesting! Smile

102 18,708
 08-15-2013, 07:24 PM
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The historical aspect of this one is rich, and the brush itself is very attractive. Thanks for sharing it.

214 12,634
 08-15-2013, 07:28 PM
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Wow! What a thorough review! Great info, thanks.

0 47
 08-15-2013, 08:48 PM
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Gary, that brush is a gem just like you are. Keep up the good work.

180 24,670
 08-16-2013, 12:00 AM
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Wow - that is one beautiful brush.
Kudos on yet another remarkable restore!

8 949
 08-16-2013, 12:22 AM
  • ben74
  • Senior Member
  • Perth, Australia
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Wonderful restore!

Interesting news article too.

101 18,029
 08-16-2013, 06:21 AM
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Thanks gents!

1 2,827
 08-16-2013, 07:07 AM
  • Grumpy
  • Senior Member
  • DisneyLand
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Look Real Good GD.

Great Job!!!

1 819
 08-16-2013, 07:22 AM
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Thanks for the information. It's always really neat to get historical updates.

4 952
 08-16-2013, 08:12 AM
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Gary, that is outstanding work ! I like that you kept a bit of the worn look with the way you did the lettering. The knot looks perfectly balanced in size and loft for the handle and we both know a 19mm finest knot is a wonderful thing Smile

VERY appealing !

6 1,224
 08-16-2013, 10:06 AM
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Gary, the brush looks incredible!Biggrin

87 21,185
 08-17-2013, 01:20 PM
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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Hi Gary

Knowing the history of the shave brush adds a nice layer of icing to the restore Thumbsup

As always, very nice work on the restore Cheers

Take care, Mike

23 1,872
 08-31-2013, 09:26 AM
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 01-12-2014, 05:55 AM
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[Image: 11907027844_6dd28a110e_h.jpg]

1 2,827
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