10-20-2017, 10:05 PM
#21
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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(10-20-2017, 05:27 AM)BSWoodturning Wrote: So the question arises: What is it? At first I though it was solid little chunk of lathed celluloid because of the colour, but it lacked the lightness and didn't pass the rub and smell test: it doesn't smell at all like camphor. But... what it DOES smell like is a little bit disturbingly like rotten ...something... meat? Sour milk? Weird. A little further research points me in what I think is the right direction: "Galalith" (from Greek: "milk stone"): one of the first ever plastics; a synthesis of casein (from milk) and formalin. It was also known by a few other terms (Erinoid, for example)...

[Image: W2hhRpu.jpg]
That's impressive research, Shaun!  Even if you're wrong about any aspects of this brush, I believe you are in the right ballpark.  Lovely find!

Thanks, Brad, yes. Smile Naturally, I remain open-minded as to an alternative brush-maker, subject to newer information coming to light. It may take some time, of course. I'd have liked to have asked Mr Gary Young for an opinion, but that's not possible, unfortunately. In the meantime, here is an advert from the 1922 British Industries Fair for Erinoid (the British name for Galalith, post-1914 when production in Stroud, England, took off). Note that it specified the new product was suitable for turning (available in rods) and was a good substitute for bone, ivory, etc. As a handle-maker, I'd have been intrigued, and naturally, Erinoid had already been available prior to the Fair Smile

[Image: R6H0LUj.png]

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 10-21-2017, 08:00 AM
#22
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(10-20-2017, 10:05 PM)Shaun Wrote:
(10-20-2017, 05:27 AM)BSWoodturning Wrote: So the question arises: What is it? At first I though it was solid little chunk of lathed celluloid because of the colour, but it lacked the lightness and didn't pass the rub and smell test: it doesn't smell at all like camphor. But... what it DOES smell like is a little bit disturbingly like rotten ...something... meat? Sour milk? Weird. A little further research points me in what I think is the right direction: "Galalith" (from Greek: "milk stone"): one of the first ever plastics; a synthesis of casein (from milk) and formalin. It was also known by a few other terms (Erinoid, for example)...

[Image: W2hhRpu.jpg]
That's impressive research, Shaun!  Even if you're wrong about any aspects of this brush, I believe you are in the right ballpark.  Lovely find!

Thanks, Brad, yes. Smile Naturally, I remain open-minded as to an alternative brush-maker, subject to newer information coming to light. It may take some time, of course. I'd have liked to have asked Mr Gary Young for an opinion, but that's not possible, unfortunately. In the meantime, here is an advert from the 1922 British Industries Fair for Erinoid (the British name for Galalith, post-1914 when production in Stroud, England, took off). Note that it specified the new product was suitable for turning (available in rods) and was a good substitute for bone, ivory, etc. As a handle-maker, I'd have been intrigued, and naturally, Erinoid had already been available prior to the Fair Smile

[Image: R6H0LUj.png]

Now that's really neat, Shaun!  It would be nice to be able to order some Tongue

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 10-21-2017, 01:43 PM
#23
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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You won’t find many examples of shaving brushes with these handles. I think the reason might be because of the strange smell when it hits hot water! Putting it under your nose each day, despite some wonderfully scented shaving soap... Smile Still, strange how there seem to be no other examples for which I can find reference.

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 10-23-2017, 11:13 PM
#24
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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I have found two more old advertisements using what now seems clear to me is the older-style Heppells logo. This is the style stamped on the brush in question. The earliest use I have found of this stylised logo is 1916, which is not long after Erinoid (Galalith) goes properly into production in England (1914). The 1 Jan 1916 ad is posted immediately below (at the bottom of the ad itself), followed by another ad with unknown date. So we're narrowing things down to 1916 to 1925. 

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[Image: pFpLWxq.png]

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 10-24-2017, 03:38 PM
#25
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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Not having been able to trace the patent number myself, I wrote to the British Museum, who answered me within 24 hours. They traced the patent (3103, or, more fully: GB191203103A) to 1912 as follows:

[Image: 9QmqNKH.png]
[Image: BvqOeTh.png]
Further painstaking research revealed that Edward Ashton Edwards was born in 1863 in Islington, and was listed in the British Census as a brushmaker...and druggist Smile (Heppells?) He had formed a company, presumably with a sibling, which was called "Edwards Brothers", but I had limited luck tracing the details apart from:

[Image: KhEHP25.png]
[Image: 8EY7yGE.png]


This was a notice that the business was being sold. Further research reveals that they were also known as "Edwards Bros", and it was then that I did find some "Edbro" shaving brush advertisements, as follows:

[Image: zj5ukGe.png]
[Image: ZNGj1D5.png]

Ok. So we can see on the ad, looking microscopically the patent: 3013, and the giveaway 'lip' much like the Tulip. Another interesting detail: note the house number/address on St Paul's Road where the business was being conducted...63. Then look at the brush in my possession: 63! Too much of a coincidence.

So, what have I (we) learned? Some new information about the techniques at the time, and the materials used. In summary:
  • The brush was manufactured by Edwards Bros., incorporating the 1912 patent (No. 3103) for the internal knot and wire grip. 
  • The handle is made of turned Galalith/Erinoid, which got into full production in the UK from after 1916.
  • It was doubtless lathed and tooled at 63 St Paul's Road, Canonbury, London. Let's call the brush, the "63", as per the clear stamp on the brush itself.
  • It was stamped with the early Heppell's Ltd logo, dating from somewhere between 1916 and 1925, judging by the above-noted Heppells advertisement examples.
  • It was also stamped "Sterilized", dating it to post-WWI, at least 1918/19, but let's say 1921 when, due to the anthrax problem, brushes were by then more routinely stamped "Sterilized".
  • The tooling is not as refined as the above advertised examples of the '"Edbro" with dates of 1923 and 1924, so I speculate it's an earlier example, the maker experimenting with Galalith, sold to Heppells and incorporating their logo. Although E.A. Edwards was listed as a druggist (and brushmaker), there is no evidence that he worked at Heppells. However, Edwards Brothers had been making brushes in London from around 1853, clearly supplying them to Heppells. E.A. Edwards was 10 years old in 1853, so I assume this was an old, family business.
  • My best guess is that the brush in question was made somewhere between 1919 and 1923, so let's split the difference and say 1921. 
Well, that concludes this body of research, and I am glad the mystery has been solved. I hope is adds to our body of knowledge of the history of shaving brush manufacturing. Yes, I am slightly disappointed it isn't a Simpson, but very glad to have in my possession an obscure little curio that acts as a little time-capsule, revealing much about the times and the materials used. In the end it really is a great brush and lathers like an absolute champion! The knot really is superb. If anything, this has to be one of the earliest examples of a brush handle lathed from Galalith, the new ivory substitute. Alone, that makes it a worthy, collectible historical object, in my view. 

Glad to have brought you all along for the ride. Yes: I am a little obsessive compulsive Smile Smile

Final note: check out these two images: The first is the Simpson "Bajer" from 1931:
[Image: sKkYohf.png]

And this is the "Edbro" from 1923:

[Image: 2amWfrO.png]

Now THAT is interesting. Could it be that when Edwards Brothers folded, one of their makers went off to...Simpsons? I'll just leave that right there. You can guess where my mind is going, can't you Smile

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 10-24-2017, 07:39 PM
#26
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Bayside, NY
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Shaun, your detective work was outstanding. Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating! Such dogged determination. You should be applauded by all in the wet shave community.

That ol' 63 has survived is perhaps even more remarkable. Clearly it was destined to be rediscovered and researched by an international sleuth such as yourself.

Thank you for the history lesson. It was a real treat.

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 10-24-2017, 08:16 PM
#27
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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(10-24-2017, 07:39 PM)chazt Wrote: Shaun, your detective work was outstanding. Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating! Such dogged determination. You should be applauded by all in the wet shave community.

That ol' 63 has survived is perhaps even more remarkable. Clearly it was destined to be rediscovered and researched by an international sleuth such as yourself.

Thank you for the history lesson. It was a real treat.

Yep. And it's nearing its 100th birthday, which would classify it as an antique. It's a shame that there is no museum of shaving, with different world sections. I'd visit, anyway. I think a lot of men would.

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 10-25-2017, 02:44 AM
#28
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Neat to see.

I've restored a few very old brushes from England that have had wire wrapped around the base of the knot and down into the handle. Usually held in place with a black substance like looks like hardened tar or rubber. Other times a kind of plaster. Interesting that the patent describes the wire and its purpose. I also find it mildly interesting that the technique is no longer widely used apparently.

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 10-25-2017, 09:12 AM
#29
  • blzrfn
  • Butterscotch Bandit
  • Vancouver USA
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Great work Shaun!  I am familiar with the Edbro brand and had completely forgotten that I had owned a couple.  Both of mine were travel style brushes in which the brush screwed into the handle with a cap and interestingly, to me, made out of horn.

[Image: xJVFQtE.png]

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 10-25-2017, 04:22 PM
#30
  • German
  • Simpson 2 Band Aficionado
  • USA
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Thanks for all the research. I really enjoyed your journey!

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 10-26-2017, 06:07 AM
#31
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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(10-25-2017, 04:22 PM)German Wrote: Thanks for all the research. I really enjoyed your journey!

Not at all. You're very welcome. I write for the reader and just hope what's written is engaging, and informative for the collector and enthusiast. What I think happened was that an American visiting London for some reason needed to buy a travel shaving brush...maybe he left his shaving brush at home... and was in Piccadilly, as a tourist might indeed be, and dropped into Keppell's and bought the 63. He then took it back to the USA with him (the man who sold this brush to me was from Kentucky, and he found the brush at a local flea market), but discontinued using it, maybe because of the strange smell. This is why it remained in good condition, with the lamp-black in good order and the brush hardly worn at all. It was bought out of necessity, put on a shelf, and forgotten. Just a theory.

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