09-18-2016, 02:56 PM
#1
  • beamon
  • Active Member
  • Greenville, SC USA
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What do you find better about them? Are they sharper, smoother, heavier gauge metal, longer lasting or all of the above? Are you able to find them in sufficient quantity and reasonable prices to keep you going? 

I have a tuck and a half of English Wilkinson Swords from the 50s that I bought new when they were the new darling of DE blades. Yes, they seemed to me to be noticeably better than the Gillettes that dominated the market, then. A couple of my survivors have performed wonderfully in my vintage and modern razors, leading me to believe that there's something to this "vintage blades are the best" thing. But if true, why? You'd think modern technology would win out over yesteryear's in the manufacture of blades, or is it the same machines that are cranking out today's production and suffering from old age and lack of attention? 

Thoughts?

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 09-18-2016, 07:32 PM
#2
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I prefer vintage DE blades.

I think there is little to no incentive to improve blades given their low price and predominant market for customers in Eastern Europe and Asia/India.

In the 50s through the early 70s in the Western world I believe there was an arm's race to be the best and gain market share or bragging rights. Take Personna 74s for instance. 

Then cartridges hit the market in the early 70s and the rest is history. 

It's all about being just good enough now to maintain low cost for consumers and minimum acceptable quality. The majority of DE shavers currently in the world are not using DE blades for the same reasons we are. They cannot afford cartridges and most likely don't really have access to them. I have heard that most would like to use modern systems as they perceive the cartridges as a status symbol and sign of sufficient wealth to be able to afford such disposable luxury.

Even in that context I feel like there are certainly some very good modern DE blades being made. I think the consistency is key. Feathers are consistent in my experience but I find them harsh and not very long lasting.

The blades I prefer are Gillette Super Stainless and Spoilers. Also Schick Plus Platinum and Schick Krona Chrome.

I came across a sizable stash of the Gillette blades and pulled the trigger. I had been stocking up on these and other vintage blades here and there for a few years and was confident enough in my opinion that the blades from the 60s through the 80s were what I liked best.

I find them smoother. Not necessarily sharper. All razor blades are sharp. I am interested in consistency. For me the longevity is a factor but I don't think I push the blades to the limit. I have been able to get a Spoiler to go through two weeks of daily shaves without serious disappointment. I prefer to just use a fresh blade each week. Every Sunday whether it is shot or not I replace the blade.

Not a lot of current DE blades can go 6 or 7 shaves straight and remain comfortable and consistent. For example a Feather blade is harsh for me day one. Nice day two and three and then rubbish by day four. Too much of a curve of performance for me.

I have a cut off on price for vintage DE blades. $0.50 per blade total delivered. When I came across the stash I bought that is what I paid. I've paid less but not more too many times. The stash was for metal dispensers in blister packs on cards. New old stock. Over 900 blades.

That's over 17 years of one blade per week for me. I figured I could keep seeking them out a package or two at a time and spend the time along with the money over years never knowing for sure if the supply would dry up, or just buy them when they were in front of me. So I bought them.

I don't know that they're thicker or heavier gauge steel. I don't know if others would find the price I paid reasonable either. I know compared to what I can spend on cartridges over time $0.50 per DE blade puts me ahead of the equation there.

I have slowed down acquiring the vintage blades. They pop up from time to time and sometimes in full case quantities. They're still out there. I have not seen the carded dispensers in the same quantity and price that I got since I picked them up. 

I feel fortunate to have got the huge addition to my stash when I did.

I have a few cases of other vintage blades and several 100 pack quantities of some modern blades. I mix up between the blades I use. I also use injectors, Gem type, and Artist Club razors.

I think that if I never buy another razor blade of any kind again I'll still be leaving a few behind that my family will have to decide what to do with.

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 09-19-2016, 02:38 AM
#3
  • beamon
  • Active Member
  • Greenville, SC USA
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Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Todd. Where do you find vintage blades for sale? I'm guessing (without having looked yet) that eBay and etsy would be likely places. Others?

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 09-19-2016, 05:21 PM
#4
  • TADIII
  • Gilletter from Home
  • FL & NC
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Roger, there was a fellow on one of these fora, HoosierTom maybe, who used to find vintage Wilkinsons at Flea Markets.  I have never found a blade (or a decent razor, for that matter) at a flea market.  I bought hundreds (and that is plural) packages of Wilkinsons in the '70s and '80s at "going out of business" sales, a few tucks of which I still have.  In the meantime, I have found another hundred or so of Wilkinson blades on the auction site in both five and 10-count tucks, adhering to bakerbarber's fifty-cent ceiling.  So, I guess the answer to one of your questions, for me, is eBay.  I also think bakerbarber's "arms race" analogy is spot on for explaining the quality of those old blades - smoother and longer-lasting.
For sharpness, though, I have many hundreds of new blades: Feathers, GSBs, PSIs, and Personnas (Meds, Labs, Reds, as well as a few tucks of old P74*s). 
I have been a DE shaver for 50 years, and an injector shaver for more than five years before that; I have had a bit of a blade acquisition problem for a long time.


Tom

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 09-19-2016, 05:36 PM
#5
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(09-19-2016, 02:38 AM)beamon Wrote: Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Todd. Where do you find vintage blades for sale? I'm guessing (without having looked yet) that eBay and etsy would be likely places. Others?

eBay. Have not ever seen any on Etsy or at an estate sale.

I think Personna lab and med blades are very nice.
I bought mine in bulk from Robbins medical supplies and Ted Pella. Lowest price is in bulk.

Vintage stuff is mythical though to me.

I have said before that I believe that vintage store brand blades from the day are just as good as the brand name. I have a lot of Sears blades and I am not able to tell them apart from the Schick and Personnas from the same era.

Someone was making those store brand blades and it wasn't the stores themselves.

I know that today much, but not all, of the generic brands of products are different in packaging alone.

Might be a good angle to acquire great vintage blades that others aren't going after.

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 09-20-2016, 03:53 AM
#6
  • beamon
  • Active Member
  • Greenville, SC USA
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(09-19-2016, 05:21 PM)TADIII Wrote: Roger, there was a fellow on one of these fora, HoosierTom maybe, who used to find vintage Wilkinsons at Flea Markets.  I have never found a blade (or a decent razor, for that matter) at a flea market.  I bought hundreds (and that is plural) packages of Wilkinsons in the '70s and '80s at "going out of business" sales, a few tucks of which I still have.  In the meantime, I have found another hundred or so of Wilkinson blades on the auction site in both five and 10-count tucks, adhering to bakerbarber's fifty-cent ceiling.  So, I guess the answer to one of your questions, for me, is eBay.  I also think bakerbarber's "arms race" analogy is spot on for explaining the quality of those old blades - smoother and longer-lasting.
For sharpness, though, I have many hundreds of new blades: Feathers, GSBs, PSIs, and Personnas (Meds, Labs, Reds, as well as a few tucks of old P74*s). 
I have been a DE shaver for 50 years, and an injector shaver for more than five years before that; I have had a bit of a blade acquisition problem for a long time.


Tom
With my mobility severely compromised after a stroke 5 years ago, my days of flea market crawling have pretty much gone by the board, but I can check the Bay frequently to see what is offered there, easily. I'm content with modern blades, but every time I use those vintage Wilkinson Swords, I give a little sigh of appreciation for what was.
(09-19-2016, 05:36 PM)bakerbarber Wrote: I have said before that I believe that vintage store brand blades from the day are just as good as the brand name. I have a lot of Sears blades and I am not able to tell them apart from the Schick and Personnas from the same era.

Someone was making those store brand blades and it wasn't the stores themselves.

I know that today much, but not all, of the generic brands of products are different in packaging alone.
Yes. Blades are a perfect item for farming out of their production. I'd bet that little buildings with a single machine were churning out blades for scores of name brands. Different packaging and out the door they went! Look at how few refineries make gasoline for so many brands. Adjust the ethanol content for the states involved, fill the tankers and off they go!

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 09-20-2016, 10:25 AM
#7
  • TADIII
  • Gilletter from Home
  • FL & NC
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Roger,
PM me your snail-mail address and I will send you some unopened, vintage Wilkinson Super Swords in the thumb pack.
Tom

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 09-20-2016, 01:15 PM
#8
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I never considered the point about the competition.  I have however seen numerous different brands and have stayed away from trying any of these because I wouldn't know which one to start with.  It sounds like Personna 74, Gillette Super Stainless and Spoilers, Schick Plus Platinum and Schick Krona Chrome, and Wilkinson Swords are getting a few votes here.  Which are the best from the golden era and which should be avoided?

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 09-20-2016, 03:33 PM
#9
  • Mouser
  • Senior Member
  • Forest City, Florida U.S.A.
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They are better all around and worth it up to a point. Another poster on another forum who claimed to have some business connections in that industry back in the day (he's retired) said that they were simply made better and cost more (adjusted for inflation) when they were new than new blades today because a large share of the market for them back then was middle and upper class Americans and Western Europe who could afford better made blades and demanded that. Today the vast, overwhelming share of the market for razor blades is the third world so they are made cheaper.
But whatever the reasons, I find vintage blades, or certain ones to be better in every way to new mostly. The very few of the best new blades come close ( but not quite, at least for me) to measuring up in the sharpness and smoothness areas but none come close to the longevity of vintage.

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 09-21-2016, 03:15 AM
#10
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Smoothness and longevity for me. The quality back then was certainly a bit higher than these days.

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 09-21-2016, 03:28 AM
#11
  • gp569900
  • Senior Member
  • Franklin, TN USA
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I'm am just getting into vintage blades. First shaves seem similar to some of my modern blades. However, to my subjective eye, it does seem that the thickness of the vintage blades is greater than many of my currently made ones.

I would concur that price has something to do with quality. You can buy 100 Astra SP''s for ten bucks today. I have a pack of Wilkinson Light Brigades. They cost 5 for $.89 or almost $.18 per blade almost fifty years ago.

So, I will speak to longevity as I get more experience.

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 09-21-2016, 04:49 AM
#12
  • Mouser
  • Senior Member
  • Forest City, Florida U.S.A.
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Vintage blades are all I use anymore. One reason is that back when I started wet shaving I had an immediate interest in them and with patience and persistence was able to acquire a lifetime stock of them at prices well worth it. With the spike in their costs recently I don't know if I would have gone down the same road today but they are, the ones I use, significantly better in every measure.
The stainless blades I use are
Personna 74
Gillette Platinum Plus
Gillette Super Stainless (Spoilers)
Schick Plus Platinum
Wilkinson Light Brigades or Chromium Edge
Personna Super Stainless, U.S.A. and Great Britain models
Those are the main ones.
I also use some pristine carbon models that I get very good shaves from but those I consider more of an indulgence.

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 09-24-2016, 03:45 PM
#13
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0.18 per blade 50 years ago is about 1.34 per blade today if you use an inflation calculator, which is about what they go for on ebay today. Not so shabby, better value than modern blades IMO Smile

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