11-28-2016, 05:01 PM
#1
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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Many of us have been shaving with a bush, a soap, and a blade for several decades.  The longer we do so, one suspects, the more perspective we gain as to what is “expensive” and what is “reasonably priced” in the realm of shaving hardware and software.  Out of curiosity, therefore, and for no other reason, I wonder about others’ paths from the yesteryear when a top of the line Gillette DE razor, for instance, sold for well under $5.00 brand new.

Here is the War&Peace version of my own experience:  For the first ten to dozen years that I shaved, I used a Ronson (rebadged Braun) electric razor that I had purchased myself for, IIRC, a shade over $20, which I considered a “major” purchase or even investment at the time (latter half of the 1950s).  

When I bought my first “wet” razor (a Pal stainless steel adjustable injector razor that would accept Schick blades as well as Pal blades), I paid exactly $1.95 (probably plus Massachusetts sales tax) for the razor itself:
[Image: M1pUzgM.jpg]

. . . but it was five or six years before I took the razor out of its case and had to buy blades for it, because I had bought it only to display as an objet d'art.  Even after buying blades for it, though, the combined price of razor and blades was still much less expensive than the still-functioning Ronson electric that I used to shave with every day, so the Ronson still ruled as the priciest shaving-related item on the shelf.  

To prepare my beard for the first shave with the Pal injector, I bought an aerosol can of Noxzema shave cream, for probably under $2.00.  It was 1968, and I was in Tokyo, so the price was probably double the going United States price for the Noxzema, but it was still cheap.  So far as I can recall, I never bought a second can of Noxzema shave cream, because very soon after I started to use the Pal adjustable, I upgraded to a Wilkinson Bonded Blade razor:  
[Image: aPie5oC.jpg]
. . . for which I paid $2.00 (before rebate) here is Oregon, which has no sales tax.  

However, at the same time, I purchased a supermarket or drugstore boar bristle brush and a puck of Williams shaving soap, combined total, probably under $10.00.  So the combined price of the Wilkinson razor, the (included) blades, the brush, and the soap was still well below the price that I had paid for the Ronson electric about 15 years earlier.  

When the Wilkinson Bonded Blades became unavailable, I jumped into the Gillette Flavor of the Week:  first a TechMatic Adjustable, then a Trac II, an Atra, a Sensor, a Mach 3, etc.  But King Gillette’s original mantra, “Give away the razor, sell the blades,” still held sway over the decades, so I am pretty sure that I never paid as much as $5.00 for a Gillette razor handle, and I know that I never paid as much as $10.00 for a pack of disposable cartridges for any razor; so the late 1950s Ronson electric remained the most expensive razor on the shelf.  Although sometime early in the 21st century, I jumped the Gillette ship for a Schick Quattro, completing my cartridge odyssey with a Schick Hydro3 in 2014, I never paid as much as $10.00 for any pack of Schick cartridges, either.  The Ronson electric still was the most expensive razor I ever had bought.  

However, in the meantime, I had upgraded the non-razor side of my kit:  I discovered Col. Conk Amber shaving soap in the 1970s or 1980s, and Col. Conk was not easy to find in local stores, so when I came across it, I bought three pucks at a time for about 3/$10.00.  Then, in the fall of 1992, at a Norm Thompson Warehouse Sale, I had found a shaving set comprising a marble dish with an attached brush stand, a matching marble handled boar shaving brush, and a matching marble handle that took Gillette Trac II blades, all for $15.  Even with the new brush and stand and the more expensive (than Williams) Col. Conk soap, the Ronson electric shaver remained the highest priced piece of shaving kit in my possession.  

That changed, finally, in the mid-1990s, when the boar knot in the Norm Thompson marble handle brush fell apart, and I replaced it with a Vulfix 2234S Super Badger brush.   I have lost the receipt, but my recollection is that I paid about $60 for the brush, making it — by a wide margin — my most expensive piece of hardware.  Although I recall pondering for a long time whether I was going to pay that much money for “only a brush,” the fact that I went through with the purchase means that I considered it a good value for the money at the time.  (And I was right:  that brush remains in my cabinet to this day, after decades of daily use without, AFAIK, ever losing a single hair.)  But, finally, after about four decades, the $20+ 1950s era Ronson electric shaver was no longer the most expensive piece of shaving equipment that I owned.

That slow progression got out of hand about three years ago.  In March 2014, I purchased (from site sponsor The Superior Shave), at a close-out price, a Mühle STF v2 brush for $46, which, by itself, was more than double the price of the Ronson electric that had ruled the roost for all those years; and I know that I considered the Mühle brush a real bargain at that price.   Then, in April 2014, I was an early direct purchaser of the Standard Razors DE razor, for about $70, shipped, which instantly vaulted it to the top of my most expensive shaving gear list. 

Within a year, I had upgraded the Standard Razors razor (which later I sold) to an iKon DLC Slant (blemish) head plus a Maggard stainless steel handle, which combination, total about $75, then took over as the top price dog in the shaving kit.  But not for long: nine months later, I purchased a Feather AS-D2 for the until then to me unimaginable price of nearly $150 for a razor.  

All has been calm for well over a year now, and I can declare myself in full remission from acquisition disorder.  But when I look back at how frugal I was for all those decades, without ever having an inkling that I was being frugal, and then how much I spent on DE razors alone in a 19-month stretch of 2014-2015, I must acknowledge that my concepts of “value” and “bargain” took a quantum leap within a very short time frame.

What items, over time, have been the most expensive pieces of shaving equipment that you ever had owned?  How has your appreciation of those terms “value” and “bargain” — in respect of shaving gear — shifted, and over how extended or compressed a time frame?  

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 11-28-2016, 05:16 PM
#2
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I got involved with wet shaving around 2008 when a lot of exciting items were gaining popularity. My first purchases included a simpsons CH3 in super and a lot of other very high end gear to the tune of about $1000. I'm not saying these decisions are wise or I don't understand value by any means , it was something I was interested in at the time and I consider the experience very rewarding.

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 11-28-2016, 05:19 PM
#3
  • Agravic
  • Super Moderator
  • Pennsylvania, USA
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I've spent thousands of dollars over the last 5 years on shaving gear; I'm now content with the goal of simplifying; quality over quantity; less is more.

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 11-28-2016, 07:35 PM
#4
  • pbrmhl
  • Active Member
  • Seattle
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Great post. Both an interesting autobiography and a relevant sociological study. Well done!

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 11-28-2016, 07:56 PM
#5
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I suspect that if you added up the cost of the blades you bought to fuel the Wilkinson Bonded and then all the subsequent iterations of Gillette carts and factored them in to determine the OPERATING cost of each shaving system you used before switching to DEs, that Ronson electric would actually have been the CHEAPEST shaver you bought until 2014...

For me, I came to wetshaving after using a succession of Braun and Phillips electrics bought between 1970 and 2010, as the old ones broke down. I believe my first electric was about $50.00 in 1970 dollars and my last electric in 2010 (which I still have and use on occasion) cost about $300.00. And, of course, they all needed replacement foils and cutters at about $20.00 / year. At that, they were still cheaper than their contemporary latest model, multi-blade cartridge systems -- and far less wasteful of non-recyclable plastic and metal bits going into the city dump.

I finally switched not to save money but to try for less razor burn. However, the experience of paying $200 - $300 for an electric that craps out in 5 years and/or requires its own replacement cost worth of repair parts and shopwork after about five years from date of purchase (all the new ones use built-in rechargeable batteries for example) made the purchase cost of even a high-end DE or SE razor seem reasonable, considering that it never breaks down and only ever requires replacement of dime razorblades.

Having said that, my purchases of wetshaving stuff have escalated, although everything is individually still cheaper than my last electric. I started with a vintage Schick Injector and Gillette FatBoy and Black Beauty (both Gillettes charitably classified as "user grade") - at about $10 apiece. I bought other vintage razors too but as collectibles and not to use. My using costs escalated this year when I kickstarted the Supply Provision injector for about $100, and later bought a Rockwell 6s and then kicked in on the Rockwell T - both again at about $100 apiece. I eventually expect I will spend the extra $60 - $100 each to have my two pet Gillette adjustables replated with rhodium or cerakoted.

As I mentioned, paying $100 - $300 at a time for electrics that have turned out to be consumables has made the one-time costs of even expensive DEs and injectors seem quite reasonable.

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 11-28-2016, 10:35 PM
#6
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(11-28-2016, 07:56 PM)Screwtape Wrote: I suspect that if you added up the cost of the blades you bought to fuel the Wilkinson Bonded and then all the subsequent iterations of Gillette carts and factored them in to determine the OPERATING cost of each shaving system you used before switching to DEs, that Ronson electric would actually have been the CHEAPEST shaver you bought until 2014...

Smile

I hear what you are saying, and I understand your point — which is the same point that King Gillette made to his company’s shareholders — as to where the profits are from the sellers’ standpoint.  But my costs in blade consumables has barely ticked the needle since switching from all-cartridge shaving to predominantly DE shaving.  (I still carry only a cartridge razor with me when I am traveling by commercial airlines.)  As noted in the opening post, I never have paid more than $9.99 for a pack — various quantities in the pack, but these days usually a 5-pack — of cartridges.  So I am paying, in 2016 prices, $2.00 per cartridge.  

On the DE side, I am well aware that there are some very inexpensive DE blades out there, especially when purchased in brobdingnagian quantities.  I have found success with some moderately priced (though not seriously cheap) blades myself:  Rapira Swedish Supersteels.  But, having tried many nationalities and brands of blades, I must confess that for my own use, I prefer to stick to the two Japanese brands of blades, KAI and Feather.  Yes, I have given Polsilvers a fair try, and yes, I have tried Gillette Platinums, Gillette Silver Blues, and even Personnas.  But it is my face, after all, and on my face I prefer the KAIs and the Feathers to any of the non-Japanese alternatives.

I do not like to tie up too much capital in blade stashes, so the typical quantities of DE blades that I purchase at a time are 25 or 50 (and, once, 100).  Because I have found that I get, on average, about six shaves per DE blade (typically, on average, five shaves per Feather and seven shaves per KAI) 50 blades should give me close to a year of shaves, taking into account the days I am flying and use a cartridge razor instead of DE blades.  Without doing current research on who is offering the best deals on blades today, and taking Phil’s (BullGooseShaving’s) prices as I write this, I would pay $22.00 for Feathers in quantity 50 — 250 shaves — and $37.50 for KAIs in quantity 50 350 shaves.  If I use 25 blades of each brand, I would get 300 shaves for $29.75.  

My experience with Schick Hydro3 cartridges is that I get about a dozen shaves per cartridge (three blades sharing the cutting do not wear as fast as one blade doing it alone) with Hydro3s; and with Feather MR3 neo cartridges (my preferred travel companion these days), I get a good 15 shaves per cartridge.  (I know and appreciate that that Phil sells MR3 neo cartridges, but, as I visit Japan about once a year, I purchase my MR3 neo cartridges there, so I cannot fairly compare pricing.)  Comparing only the blade cost of the Hydro3 cartridges to the blade cost of the half Feather/half KAI DE shaves, then, I would need 25 Hydro3 cartridges (at $2.00/cartridge:  $50) to get the same number of shaves — 300 — as I get from 25 Feather DE plus 25 KAI DE blades ($29.75).  

So yes, the cost of Schick Hydro3 cartridges would exceed the cost of the kind of DE blades that I prefer.  But the cost difference, at 2016 prices, would be about $20.25 per year ($1.69 per month).   It would take seven years of such savings to amortize the cost of one Feather AS-D2 razor.  

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 11-29-2016, 12:24 AM
#7
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First, major style points to you for working the word "brobdingnagian" into the conversation. It is an excellent adjective to describe many blade stashes here.

Second, your last comment on amortization costs for a Feather DE neatly underlines how much of an impact one's starting point can have on cost perceptions. For me, from the perspective of someone nearing the necessary replacement or major overhaul time on his rechargeable electric razor if not for having switched to DE/SE shaving, the purchase costs of my Supply Provision injector, Rockwell 6s AND Rockwell T1 are already amortized by what I have saved by not replacing the electric.

Or at least I can plausibly rationalize their purchases to myself on that basis...

On the other hand, anything I spend on fancy soaps or brushes will be a dead loss... Fortunately custom brushes are not my bag and neither are collections of hundreds of soaps, so further escalation should be limited to lilliputian dimensions...

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 11-29-2016, 01:56 PM
#8
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(11-29-2016, 12:24 AM)Screwtape Wrote: First, major style points to you for working the word "brobdingnagian" into the conversation.  

It was not easy; if this were ShaveHangar.com it might have been a cinch; but, NO, I had to shoehorn brobdingnagian into a Nook.

(11-29-2016, 12:24 AM)Screwtape Wrote: For me, from the perspective of someone nearing the necessary replacement or major overhaul time on his rechargeable electric razor if not for having switched to DE/SE shaving, the purchase  costs of my Supply Provision injector, Rockwell 6s AND Rockwell T1 are already amortized by what I have saved by not replacing the electric.  

Or at least I can plausibly rationalize their purchases to myself on that basis...

An excellent rationalization; I’m thinking that I might be able to make that dog walk.  This year, already I have not purchased a Bentley Mulsanne to replace our ten-year-old family car; I get giddy thinking of the credits that my restraint bestows upon me.

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 11-29-2016, 06:45 PM
#9
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(11-29-2016, 01:56 PM)Mel S Meles Wrote:
(11-29-2016, 12:24 AM)Screwtape Wrote: First, major style points to you for working the word "brobdingnagian" into the conversation.  

It was not easy; if this were ShaveHangar.com it might have been a cinch; but, NO, I had to shoehorn brobdingnagian into a Nook.

(11-29-2016, 12:24 AM)Screwtape Wrote: For me, from the perspective of someone nearing the necessary replacement or major overhaul time on his rechargeable electric razor if not for having switched to DE/SE shaving, the purchase  costs of my Supply Provision injector, Rockwell 6s AND Rockwell T1 are already amortized by what I have saved by not replacing the electric.  

Or at least I can plausibly rationalize their purchases to myself on that basis...

An excellent rationalization; I’m thinking that I might be able to make that dog walk.  This year, already I have not purchased a Bentley Mulsanne to replace our ten-year-old family car; I get giddy thinking of the credits that my restraint bestows upon me.

Oh come now, why cramp yourself so badly? You didn't buy a Tesla or a Ferrari either, so don't forget to add them into the credit ledger. Now, are there any piddly little trifles you've wanted for the shave den but held off on buying, such as a nice, solid gold razor handle perhaps?

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 12-04-2016, 05:46 PM
#10
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My first razor was given to me by my father and I hated it. A Schick electric razor, white and it burned my face every use. I was 15 yrs old at the time. I used that razor for quite a long time as I only needed to trim a few scraggly long hairs for quite a few years. But, after that I graduated high school and developed a real beard and thin sensitive skin with lots of acne/blackhead troubles. I started using the canned goo and a single edge Schick. But, I still went back to the Schick often. Then came the revolution. DE tries, SE tries and finally cartridges hit the scene. And, I discovered Old Spice and shaving mug w/soap. The soap lasted forever. But, the real shaving experience came when at a gun show I saw a new in the box Rolls Razor with instructions. And, with difficulty I learned to shave with it and nothing since has been half as good. I learned to sharpen knives before that and the Rolls was truly a fantastic system. I never had to send the blade anywhere to get it shop. That worked exceptionally well until I dropped the sharpening stone half on the floor and broke it. Thus the end of the Rolls for me. I went from cartridge system to cartridge system all through my working years and inbetween I bought probably 4 Norelco electric razors. Meanwhile I wore all my dress shirts out with whisker rubbing. And, I got old, and lived to retire. Then I found an interest in learning how to actually get rid of all the stubble and ingrown hairs and actually achieve a smooth shave. And, I started with Gillette used razors. Now, I have about all of them, lots of brushes, and several stainless steel DE/SE razors. What have I finally learned and come to the conclusion so far as shaving? Mostly anything with a sharp blade works better than anything electric! BAR NONE!! But, technique is by far the most important aspect. Skill with any razor DE or SE trumps all the rest of the ingredients. Now I find I like certain baldes, lots of soaps and creams, but I have come down to 2 specific razors for me: A Feather AS-D2 and a one blade. Smoothest and most gentle to my thin weak old skin. So, my advice is find something that appeals to you for whatever reason and then concentrate on your skill at using that razor, blade, brush, bowl, etc.,etc., etc. and whatever slick coating you desire in between face and blade. At this point I think I could shave with a sharp hatchet but I really wouldn't want to!! And, I wish my father was still alive! I have so much I'd like to report to him! Not necessarily concerning shaving!

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 12-04-2016, 08:53 PM
#11
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(12-04-2016, 05:46 PM)oldjoe Wrote: But, after that I graduated high school

What have I finally learned and come to the conclusion so far as shaving? Mostly anything with a sharp blade works better than anything electric! BAR NONE!! But, technique is by far the most important aspect. Skill with any razor DE or SE trumps all the rest of the ingredients. Now I find I like certain baldes, lots of soaps and creams, but I have come down to 2 specific razors for me: A Feather AS-D2 and a one blade. Smoothest and most gentle to my thin weak old skin. So, my advice is find something that appeals to you for whatever reason and then concentrate on your skill at using that razor, blade, brush, bowl, etc.,etc., etc. and whatever slick coating you desire in between face and blade. At this point I think I could shave with a sharp hatchet but I really wouldn't want to!! And, I wish my father was still alive! I have so much I'd like to report to him! Not necessarily concerning shaving!

A nice recounting of a life’s journey, that, but — forgive me — I see one anomaly there.   Through the end of the 20th century, folks like thee and me graduated from high school or college, wherever:  as relates to experiences or achievements in life, the verb “to graduate” never took a direct object, but only a prepositional phrase.   With the turn of the 21st century, suddenly the youngsters were graduating high schools the way I graduated beakers or test tubes in chemistry class by marking lines on the sides of the containers.   So, old-timer, where did you pick up the modern slang?    Smile  

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 12-06-2016, 04:00 PM
#12
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Bayside, NY
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There've been 2 phases of my shaving life. The first 40 were essentially defined by carts and despisables. Life before traditional wet shaving (TWS) was a bore and a chore. Then along came TWS about three years ago. My most expensive DE razor cost $70. The rest of them (DE and SE) ranged from $15-40. Blades are quite inexpensive; over a thousand blades have cost perhaps $200. Soaps, same thing.

Now, brushes on the other hand...

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 12-06-2016, 08:08 PM
#13
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(12-06-2016, 04:00 PM)chazt Wrote: There've been 2 phases of my shaving life. The first 40 were essentially defined by carts and despisables. Life before traditional wet shaving (TWS) was a bore and a chore. Then along came TWS about three years ago. My most expensive DE razor cost $70. The rest of them (DE and SE) ranged from $15-40. Blades are quite inexpensive; over a thousand blades have cost perhaps $200. Soaps, same thing.

Now, brushes on the other hand...

YES!   Brushes are the devil’s tool to tempt us to take food out of our children’s mouths to satisfy our own sybaritic desires.  

As noted in post #1 of this thread, I was sensibly frugal in my shaving-related purchases until a Vuufix 2234S Super Badger snuck up behind me and caught me unawares.   It has been all downhill ever since.

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 12-06-2016, 08:40 PM
#14
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(12-06-2016, 08:08 PM)Mel S Meles Wrote:
(12-06-2016, 04:00 PM)chazt Wrote: There've been 2 phases of my shaving life. The first 40 were essentially defined by carts and despisables. Life before traditional wet shaving (TWS) was a bore and a chore. Then along came TWS about three years ago. My most expensive DE razor cost $70. The rest of them (DE and SE) ranged from $15-40. Blades are quite inexpensive; over a thousand blades have cost perhaps $200. Soaps, same thing.

Now, brushes on the other hand...

YES!   Brushes are the devil’s tool to tempt us to take food out of our children’s mouths to satisfy our own sybaritic desires.  

As noted in post #1 of this thread, I was sensibly frugal in my shaving-related purchases until a Vuufix 2234S Super Badger snuck up behind me and caught me unawares.   It has been all downhill ever since.

Never forget: one of the oldest con games known is called the "badger game". And you thought they were just innocent little brushes...

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 12-07-2016, 10:30 AM
#15
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Bayside, NY
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(12-06-2016, 08:08 PM)Mel S Meles Wrote:
(12-06-2016, 04:00 PM)chazt Wrote: There've been 2 phases of my shaving life. The first 40 were essentially defined by carts and despisables. Life before traditional wet shaving (TWS) was a bore and a chore. Then along came TWS about three years ago. My most expensive DE razor cost $70. The rest of them (DE and SE) ranged from $15-40. Blades are quite inexpensive; over a thousand blades have cost perhaps $200. Soaps, same thing.

Now, brushes on the other hand...

YES!   Brushes are the devil’s tool to tempt us to take food out of our children’s mouths to satisfy our own sybaritic desires.  

As noted in post #1 of this thread, I was sensibly frugal in my shaving-related purchases until a Vuufix 2234S Super Badger snuck up behind me and caught me unawares.   It has been all downhill ever since.

Yep. For me it was a dense, soft Semogue special edition. I've had badger hair in my blood ever since. Not to worry, though. The doctor hasn't expressed any concern.

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