12-07-2018, 03:21 PM
#1
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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This is on its way to me from the UK. More pictures when it arrives (Update: It arrived; see further posts and pictures below). Postage costs were exorbitant (courtesy of a certain "International Priority" arrangement...) but I picked it up at a very reasonable price (I think), considering it is unused. Lamp-black and decal fully intact.

It is a mint "Pre-Vulfix" Chubby 2 in Super Badger. I was told it was originally purchased in 1984 as a gift (Update: I think the charity that sold it to me meant 1994!!) then put way in a cupboard for the last 324 years (see further comment re dates below). It came out of a little UK town called Wotton-under-Edge, then sold to me through a charity that supports needy families. For that alone, I'd have paid more. The total cost to me, including postage and import taxes, was $220US. Quite a bargain, I think.

I realise there is some dispute regarding precise dating of Simpsons brushes: Carter, Illminster, Nimmer, Somerset, Vulfix, Pre-Vulfix, etc, etc. I do know, though, that Carter-era brushes emerged from 1990. I believe this to be a Carter-era brush. Comments welcome. 

A couple of sneak preview pictures:

[Image: lEld3qy.jpg]
[Image: gIenbQI.jpg]

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 12-07-2018, 03:24 PM
#2
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Lovely brush. I had it on my watch list and intended to bid, but got tied up and it passed me by.

Glad you got it and looking forward to hear how it performs.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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 12-07-2018, 05:30 PM
#3
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Very nice. You plan to use it? Look fwd to the followup pics. Enjoy

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 12-07-2018, 08:26 PM
#4
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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(12-07-2018, 05:30 PM)lloydrm Wrote: Very nice. You plan to use it? Look fwd to the followup pics. Enjoy

Plan on using it? At the end of the day (well, actually first thing in the morning...) it’s a shaving brush. So, yep! For sure.

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 12-07-2018, 11:52 PM
#5
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(12-07-2018, 08:26 PM)Shaun Wrote:
(12-07-2018, 05:30 PM)lloydrm Wrote: Very nice. You plan to use it? Look fwd to the followup pics. Enjoy

Plan on using it? At the end of the day (well, actually first thing in the morning...) it’s  a shaving brush. So, yep! For sure.

Oh thank gawd! I'd have to quit TSN if you chose not to use this beauty! In my opinion, the price sounds like a deal!

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 12-08-2018, 02:00 AM
#6
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Stunning!!!  Exclamation  I think the end of the Carter era. I'm not 100% sure.

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 12-08-2018, 08:17 AM
#7
  • Shaun
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  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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(12-08-2018, 02:00 AM)lu20vt Wrote: Stunning!!!  Exclamation  I think the end of the Carter era. I'm not 100% sure.

The beginning, according to my sources.

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 12-14-2018, 04:05 AM
#8
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(12-08-2018, 02:00 AM)lu20vt Wrote: Stunning!!!  Exclamation  I think the end of the Carter era. I'm not 100% sure.

(12-08-2018, 08:17 AM)Shaun Wrote:
(12-08-2018, 02:00 AM)lu20vt Wrote: Stunning!!!  Exclamation  I think the end of the Carter era. I'm not 100% sure.

The beginning, according to my sources.


That looks like the Somerset material to me. I've heard it took Carter-Woodhouse some time to sort out turning it, and that it was abandoned before brand ownership and production moved to Progress-Vulfix. So I'd guess the brush was most probably made sometime between very early and very late in that era. Magnificent example in any case!

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 12-14-2018, 07:30 AM
#9
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Just curious, how do you plan on cleaning it before your first use?

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 12-14-2018, 08:15 AM
#10
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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“That looks like the Somerset material to me. I've heard it took Carter-Woodhouse some time to sort out turning it, and that it was abandoned before brand ownership and production moved to Progress-Vulfix. So I'd guess the brush was most probably made sometime between very early and very late in that era. Magnificent example in any case!”

//////

The brush arrived yesterday, and I must say I was taken aback by just how beautiful it is. Some first observations: the handle has the ‘shoulder’ contours of the ‘Carter’ Chubby; of this there can be no doubt, and the lathing is absolutely superb. Secondly, the handle is solidy and weighty, and clearly made of a different material to that of the Carter-era Chubby #1 that is also in my possession. Thirdly, the colour is a deeper ‘bone’ than either the quite white Chubby 1 I already mentioned (which is also lighter) and today’s “Simfix” Chubbies. The picture above shows this (more photos later). So this brings me to ask: What is this “Somerset material” of which you speak? Can you provide a few more details?

Surely not Catalin? I do know Simpson persisted with its use up until the 80s. As the seller gave me the anecdote about the origins of the brush, I’m still thinking this is a (very) early Carter-era brush. I’ll get the the bristles a little later.

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 12-14-2018, 08:31 AM
#11
  • Shaun
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  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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(12-14-2018, 07:30 AM)georgetoon Wrote: Just curious, how do you plan on cleaning it before your first use?
Hiya!
Well the Super Badger loft of this brush is a tall, fan knot and is different than the loft of a later Carter era Chubby I own. It is far denser for starters, and has clearly whiter tips. It is perhaps just slightly less dense (thankfully) of the Simfix, modern Chubby, which IMO is a complete lather hog! I’ll post photos later. This one is certainly a stunning brush, I don’t mind saying; I’m totally awed.

As for cleaning, normally with a used loft, I’d soak it in a weak, warm-water borax solution for five to ten mins, rinse, and wash out with washing-up detergent, then rinse thoroughly. With the soak though, careful of the decal and lamp-black if you have a brush with these. Borax will just destroy them; avoid getting them wet!!!

Next, I’d repeat but in a weak solution of warm water, white vinegar (glass of water to one tablespoon vinegar), then rinse and so on, as above. If there is a really strong badger funk, then I’d use a nice cologne-scented shaving soap say, and let the soap stand in thd loft for an hour, and then rinse. Works for me!

But this loft is mint, and not funky. I’m just going to rinse it in warm water... and use it as per normal Smile

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 12-14-2018, 08:42 AM
#12
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(12-14-2018, 08:31 AM)Shaun Wrote:
(12-14-2018, 07:30 AM)georgetoon Wrote: Just curious, how do you plan on cleaning it before your first use?
Hiya!
Well the Super Badger loft of this brush is a tall, fan knot and is different than the loft of a later Carter era Chubby I own. It is far denser for starters, and has clearly whiter tips. It is perhaps just slightly less dense (thankfully) of the Simfix, modern Chubby, which IMO is a complete lather hog! I’ll post photos later. This one is certainly a stunning brush, I don’t mind saying; I’m totally awed.

As for cleaning, normally with a used loft, I’d soak it in a weak, warm-water borax solution for five to ten mins, rinse, and wash out with washing-up detergent, then rinse thoroughly. With the soak though, careful of the decal and lamp-black if you have a brush with these. Borax will just destroy them; avoid getting them wet!!!

Next, I’d repeat but in a weak solution of warm water, white vinegar (glass of water to one tablespoon vinegar), then rinse and so on, as above. If there is a really strong badger funk, then I’d use a nice cologne-scented shaving soap say, and let the soap stand in thd loft for an hour, and then rinse. Works for me!

But this loft is mint, and not funky. I’m just going to rinse it in warm water... and use it as per normal Smile
Thank you for this information!  Enjoy the brush!Smile

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 12-15-2018, 09:45 AM
#13
  • BSWoodturning
  • Co-Owner, Brad Sears ShaveWorks
  • Maryland Eastern Shore
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(12-14-2018, 08:15 AM)Shaun Wrote: “That looks like the Somerset material to me. I've heard it took Carter-Woodhouse some time to sort out turning it, and that it was abandoned before brand ownership and production moved to Progress-Vulfix. So I'd guess the brush was most probably made sometime between very early and very late in that era. Magnificent example in any case!”

//////

The brush arrived yesterday, and I must say I was taken aback by just how beautiful it is. Some first observations: the handle has the ‘shoulder’ contours of the ‘Carter’ Chubby; of this there can be no doubt, and the lathing is absolutely superb. Secondly, the handle is solidy and weighty, and clearly made of a different material to that of the Carter-era Chubby #1 that is also in my possession. Thirdly, the colour is a deeper ‘bone’ than either the quite white Chubby 1 I already mentioned (which is also lighter)  and today’s “Simfix” Chubbies. The picture above shows this (more photos later). So this brings me to ask: What is this “Somerset material” of which you speak? Can you provide a few more details?

Surely not Catalin? I do know Simpson persisted with its use up until the 80s. As the seller gave me the anecdote about the origins of the brush, I’m still thinking this is a (very) early Carter-era brush. I’ll get the the bristles a little later.

It's a lovely brush, for sure!  I don't know enough about Simpson's brushes to comment further except to second Ken's remark about the maker's likely needing time to sort out the turning of a new/different material.  Each type of material (and sometimes even different colors of what's supposedly the same material) responds differently to the cutting or scraping tool.  Most woods, for example, require razor-sharp tools, high turning speed, and a comparatively aggressive cut.  Cast polyester also wants high lathe speed, but will tolerate a comparatively "dull" tool and requires a much lighter cut to avoid tear-out/chatter.  Horn, as we saw from an earlier conversation about Rooney horn brushes, wants a sharp tool, more moderate lather speed, and an extremely light touch to avoid horrendous chatter.  Ebonite is probably the most challenging of all currently used materials requiring very high speed, razor-sharp tools, and the lightest possible touch with the cutting tool.

Mastering each--may I call it "technique?"--can require time, not to mention a certain amount of waste, to master.  All of which is to say:  I don't know what the old Simpson shop looked like--or how it was equipped.  What I can say is that I have incredible admiration for men like Carter-Woodhouse who were able to turn out numbers of handles of excellent quality in an era when a brush was generally regarded as a tool rather than a work of art.

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 12-15-2018, 01:36 PM
#14
  • Shaun
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  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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A very interesting post Brad, and so detailed! This is so informative. Not knowing anything about these processes (well, not a lot) this provides not just insight into lathing technique, but also into just how much work, experience and expertise goes into turning hand-made brush handles. It deepens my appreciation for the art, and also for the expert crafts(wo)manship of brush-makers past and present. Seriously fantastic post. I am sure I am not alone in thinking this. Thank you.

I have a few more pictures of this brush. You might see a decal problem. I like to protect these, and went to a hobby shop and told them specifically my needs and was recommended a gloss coat which I diligently applied and waited for longer than the recommended drying time. Nup. Got wet and started to peel. Sad No damage done though. "Testors Glosscote Lacquer". Never again.

Anyway, pictures (I only have a pretty crappy old iPhone, apologies for the poor quality):

First, the brush, pre-wash: Note the bone-ivory colour. As our friend Ken at Paladin suggests: old rod stock! I wonder what, exactly, this material is? Anyone?
[Image: Ho9i4dj.jpg]

Second picture: The Bloom
[Image: uh7wPRW.jpg]

Third: Side-by-side with a so-called "Simfix" (Vulfix-era) Chubby 2. Note the "shoulder" differences. The Carter brush is broader and more curvaceous. The different, deeper shade in the Carter handle is more discernible in real life. The Carter brush is actually a bit heavier, too, which rather surprised me! The Carter also has more discernible lathing marks, which I really like.
[Image: bnvMzPy.jpg]
 
Fourth: Next to another Carter-era brush: a Chubby1, noting the completely different colour. The C1 is  very 'light' in the hand and the handle is very white by comparison. The C2 is comparatively weighty and solid and isn't just a reflection of the different size of the handle. 
[Image: rfKExdO.jpg]

Five: Brush now dry and beautiful: Knot is 29mm, and loft: 51mm
[Image: R25QwP8.jpg]

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 12-15-2018, 01:54 PM
#15
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Great seeing some of these old gems being discovered and discussed along with the expertise of our current brush makers!


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 12-15-2018, 02:51 PM
#16
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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And once more, for old-time's sake: the Somerset (Nimmer Mill) Butterscotch Chubby 1, turned by Stan Archer, with the original two-band knot formed in the genius hands of Beryl Parsons. The decal has a misprint! 

[Image: QozaEEH.jpg]

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 12-15-2018, 03:00 PM
#17
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(12-14-2018, 08:15 AM)Shaun Wrote: The brush arrived yesterday, and I must say I was taken aback by just how beautiful it is. Some first observations: the handle has the ‘shoulder’ contours of the ‘Carter’ Chubby; of this there can be no doubt, and the lathing is absolutely superb. Secondly, the handle is solidy and weighty, and clearly made of a different material to that of the Carter-era Chubby #1 that is also in my possession. Thirdly, the colour is a deeper ‘bone’ than either the quite white Chubby 1 I already mentioned (which is also lighter)  and today’s “Simfix” Chubbies. The picture above shows this (more photos later). So this brings me to ask: What is this “Somerset material” of which you speak? Can you provide a few more details?

Surely not Catalin? I do know Simpson persisted with its use up until the 80s. As the seller gave me the anecdote about the origins of the brush, I’m still thinking this is a (very) early Carter-era brush. I’ll get the the bristles a little later.

I can't tell from the photos whether or not your new brush has a handle turned in the material I refer to as "Somerset", which is a polyester that I understand to have been supplied on a bespoken basis first to Simpson in the Carter-Woodhouse era and then to the maker of Rooney handles after Simpson abandoned the material before Progress-Vulfix acquired the brand. I'd guess no one called the material "Somerset" until after production of Simpson brushes moved to the Isle of Man under current ownership. I think that label originated on the Superior Shaving site, which up until around 2012 still had a rather large inventory of what it called "Somerset" Simpsons. It is distinguishable from more common, solid "ivory" material by the fact it has, at least to my eye, a slightly pinkish hue rather than the more typical yellowish-tint. 

Per Gary Young's posts in various places, Simpsons primarily used catalin "up until the end of the 80s." I've read that Carter and Woodhouse purchased Simpsons (I don't know in exactly what form of transaction) out of receivership in 1990. Production then moved from Nimmer Mill in Somerset to Ilminster, also in Somerset, about five miles from Nimmer. The lathes at Nimmer mill were powered by water. I don't know but would guess that the lathes used after the move from Nimmer were not powered by water, and that different technologies had implications for material selection and handle production.

Being a polyester, so-called "Somerset" rod wants to be turned at higher speeds than I assume were used for catalyn. It probably took some time to sort that out. In any case, Simpson under Carter-Woodhouse ownership discontinued ordering the Somerset stock before the sale to Progress-Vulfix, and Rooney secured it in turn. At least, that's what I've been told by a reliable source with first-hand knowledge.

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 12-15-2018, 03:34 PM
#18
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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Very interesting post, Ken. I take your point about this bespoke polyester material being called "Somerset" only retrospectively. 

What I can discern is that in the brush in question, the hue is different and is a deeper buttery colour, although it doesn't show well in the pictures. Also, lathing marks are evident, but I can't get a close enough shot to show this. Lathing is hardly evident at all in the modern-day Chubby.

I have a pinkish-hued Simpson (Harvard 3) that demonstrates what you mean. It's a lovely brush, too. Picture below. 

As I understand it, the old rod stock was either pinkish or a deeper buttery (I have a Classic 2 which also shows this). I think this mint "Carter" brush is very likely old rod stock.  It also has a more 'solid' feel in the hand than today's Chubbies. I have read references stating that the material changes to this hue over time, but I don't think this is true. I think it is just the colour of the material.

Thank you for the post, Ken. It's all very interesting to me, and others I am certain. 

Maybe others will have more to say and other examples to show? I hope so.

Harvard 3:
[Image: vJCvYrc.jpg]

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 12-15-2018, 03:55 PM
#19
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(12-15-2018, 03:34 PM)Shaun Wrote: Very interesting post, Ken. I take your point about this bespoke polyester material being called "Somerset" only retrospectively. 

What I can discern is that in the brush in question, the hue is different and is a deeper buttery colour, although it doesn't show well in the pictures. Also, lathing marks are evident, but I can't get a close enough shot to show this. Lathing is hardly evident at all in the modern-day Chubby.

I have a pinkish-hued Simpson (Harvard 3) that demonstrates what you mean. It's a lovely brush, too. Picture below. 

As I understand it, the old rod stock was either pinkish or a deeper buttery (I have a Classic 2 which also shows this). I think this mint "Carter" brush is very likely old rod stock.  It also has a more 'solid' feel in the hand than today's Chubbies. I have read references stating that the material changes to this hue over time, but I don't think this is true. I think it is just the colour of the material.

Thank you for the post, Ken. It's all very interesting to me, and others I am certain. 

This stuff interest me like it does you. I'm not sure how much any of it really matters, but I we're both curiosity driven, and it's fun to collect the pieces and try to fit them together into a coherent narrative. So little little history related to brush-making was preserved. 

Of course, the fact a handle might have been made from a material whose production or sourcing can be confidently fixed within some time-frame doesn't mean the handle was turned or knotted within the same time-frame, and knowing when a handle was knotted doesn't necessary reveal when the knot was made or the hair originally sourced.

I 100% agree with your statement regarding post family-era Simpson handle stock changing hue over time. It might change a little, but not like catalin (aka Butterscotch). That said, there certainly can be some variation across production runs due to multiple factors (e.g., pigment variations, ambient conditions affecting processes, etc.). So, for example, there really isn't just one Somerset. Still, it's usually distinguishable in hand from other solid ivory-colored resins.

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