02-07-2017, 06:34 AM
  • German
  • Simpson 2 Band Aficionado
  • USA
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There are certain brush handles that you like the most – aesthetically, ergonomically etc. And once you have found them you tend to acquire more of them or alikes from other brush makers. In my case these are generally taller handles (55-60mm). My favorites are M7 variants and barber style handles that I own from various brush makers and with different knots.
A handle style I always went back for to the original maker is the Simpson 50 series. For me the 58 is the perfect fit (55mm tall). Though often described as a handle more prone to bowl lathering, I find the 58 perfect for face lathering. I want to compare today two different knots in the 58 handle:
-       Manchurian from 2016
-       “Super” 2 Band from 2012 (labeled “Best”, as at the time, 2 bands were rather an occasional showing and put into available “best” or “super” labeled handles).

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As pictured below, the handles do not only differ in color (traditional ivory vs. recent grey marble) but also slightly in shape, since Simpson upgraded their lathe a few years back. You can see it at the handle base: the original 58 has an additional ridge at the base).

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The knots are similar in size – both 24mm diameter with a 50/51mm loft (the Manchurian is a bit taller). Of course, the main difference is in the shape (bulb vs fan) and the hair (original 2 Band vs Manchurian).
Simpson 2 Band of that period (late 2011 through early 2014) is quite unique. Individual hairs are very fine with incredibly soft tips. Backbone is achieved through the bulb shape. The 2 band batch(es?) used during that period was/were very consistent and as far as I know these characteristics have never been showing up again in later batches.
Modern “Manchurian” knots appeared in the Simpson line-up around 2011/12, first as very limited high price releases. In the meantime, they have become the premium segment of Simpson’s line-up with countless “LEs” (I would rather call them special editions, as there seems to be no “limit”).
Manchurian knots showed quite some variation over the years, generally more scrubby/scratchy in the beginning. Between different hair batches and some refinement in knot constructions (shape, density) latest batches seem to be for me the softest ones to date.

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I have owned maybe a dozen Manchurian knots and have only retained three: the Jubilee from 2012, this 58 and a Captain from 2016. I generally ask for a higher than the specified loft, which gives the knot more flex and helps overcome any potential scritch. This particular 58, however, has not scritch whatsoever and is a truly outstanding knot.
Comparing these two knots comes down to two things:
1.     scrub vs silky softness
2.     bulb vs fan
Probably for the first time I would give this Manchurian the nod over a Simpson 2 Band, simply because the fan shape is more “face lather friendly” AND this particular Manchurian knot is such a joy to use.
If Simpson is able to source/sort this type of Manchurian hair going forward, I might just become a fan after all…
Enjoy your shaves, Gentlemen!

54 2,209
 02-07-2017, 09:07 AM
  • Teddyboy
  • Guilty, with an explanation
  • NYC
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It is coincidental for me b/c after having my 58 in 'BEST', I looked at it the other day and it looked more like the old Simpsons 2-band.  In any event it is an excellent brush.  In terms of measurements it is almost a twin to the Duke 3, except perhaps more of a bulb shape [although not a clear bulb].

Regarding handles, I believe that the Manchurian Duke 3 has a handle more like the 58 than the old/original Duke 3 [which is still used for 'BEST' knots].  I have a very early Duke 3 Manchurian which retains the original Duke 3 handle.  I always face lather so it is no big deal to me - I love them all.

1 797
 02-07-2017, 10:16 AM
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Great write up.  Thanks for taking the time to do this.  Looking forward to the next installment.

23 1,938
 02-07-2017, 01:11 PM
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Very nice feedback and nice pics. Thanks for doing this. I haven't used any Simpson manchurian but used a number of 2 bands labeled super, best and SilverTip and is almost like hey we're all different. All pleasant but different characteristics

20 900
 02-07-2017, 01:46 PM
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I agree that the Manchurian Fan, with the newer batches that are said to be softer, in a 58 handle seems like an ideal face lathering brush.  Similar proportions and knot to my Lee Sabini Paladin PK-47, which is one of my absolute favorites.

11 976
 02-07-2017, 02:53 PM
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Thanks for a good write up.  Looking forward to Part 2.

I've always thought the 58 and 59 handles are underrated, and I particularly like the 59.  Your 2-band 58 is very nice.  If Simpson releases a 58 or 59 in 2-band, I'm sure it will be grabbed up by the shaving community quite quickly.

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