07-30-2019, 05:33 AM
#1
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Hello all,
Upon purchasing a Swing Swedish vintage razor earlier this year I got curious and wanted to find out when and where these razors were manufactured. Disappointingly, I found very little online so I decided to do some detective work. I’m sharing my findings and sources here so that the information is available online and in English, where it might help some current or future collector. 

I realize that this post probably contains more info than most will want to read so there’s a summary below. Also, if anyone have further information or sources please add to this thread.

My sources: 
  • I began by searching ”DigitaltMuseum”, a Swedish-Norweigan project for digitalizing the collections of local museums. There is a little info on the Swing company available and some photos and it lead me on to my next source…
  • The Provincial Museum (Upplandsmuseet) where the Swing AB company was based. I wrote them and they could not find much of interest but pointed me to my next source…
  • The County Museum (Länsmuseet Gävleborg) in the town where the Swing factory was located between 1923 and 1952. This museum gave me a surprising level of cooperation, they actually had two people go through their files (in the old fashioned way by manually looking through paper folders), adding more pieces to the puzzle (including a page from a 1945 book, describing the company). They also pointed me to my next source…
  • The County Archives in the town of Gävle. They have material from the worker’s union at the Swing factory (protocols, union reports and letter, among other things). They offered me to come there and go through their stuff, but this is where I ran out of interest. So for me, that is where the trail ends.
  • I also used some (local Swedish) magazines and newspapers that had tidbits of information.
 
Swing Timeline:
  • In 1914 the company AB Svensk Rakklinga was founded in the town of Sandviken where they opened a razor blade factory, becoming Sweden’s first manufacturer of disposable razor blades.
  • In 1923 the company Swing Ltd. AB was founded by AB Svensk Rakklinga and the manufacturing moved to a new factory in the town of Gävle. The factory buildings are still standing today.
  • The production of razor blades continued and Swing Inc became the first Swedish company to manufacture stainless steel razor blades. 
  • At this factory they also manufactured razors. The museum confirmed that while they had no exact dates for the start and end of the razor manufacturing, they had no indication that they were manufactured anywhere else. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the razor manufacturing began after 1923.
  • A page from the book ”Beskrivning över Gävle” (Aproximately ”Guide to the town of Gävle”) from 1945 mentions that Swing had expanded and modernized their factory ”a few years ago” with new machinery. It is therefore likely that razor manufacturing was ramped up around 1942 when they got their new machinery. The book also mentions that the entire process ”from raw steel to finished product” was done within the company. It is claimed that Swing had the most "modern" machinery in the razor industry (it’s unclear if they mean ”in Sweden” or ”in the world”) at this time.
  • During the 1940’s the company had around 100 workers employed and the razor blades was exported to 45 countries. I have not found any specific info on the exports of razors.
  • At new year 1952/53 the company closes its factory in Gävle and moves back to the original location in Sandviken. It is highly likely that this is when the manufacture of Swing razors ended (since there is no evidence indicating that anything but razor blades was ever manufactured in Sandviken).
  • Swing went belly up in the late 1950’s and the machinery was sold to India.
Summary
  • Swing’s parent company began manufacturing razor blades in 1914.
  • The manufacturing of Swing razors began sometime between 1923 and 1942, in the town of Gävle.
  • Manufacturing was ramped up and modernized around 1942.
  • The manufacturing (of razors) probably ended at new year 1952/53 but the manufacturing of razor blades continued in the town of Sandviken.
  • Swing razor blades were exported to 45 countries but how much export the razors saw is unknown.
  • In the late 1950’s the company folded.
Photos:

The photos are shared here with permission under the Creative Commons 4.0 license. 
Photographer: ”Carl Larssons Fotografiska Ateljé AB”, Länsmuseet Gävleborg.

The first picture shows the factory buildings (which are still standing) in September 1949.
The second picture shows a factory worker and machinery, in 1949.
The third picture is a page from the 1945 book ”Beskrivning över Gävle” with info on Swing (in Swedish).
The fourth picture is a bakelite handle Swing razor (mine).

I hope someone finds this useful,
Steve


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 07-30-2019, 05:44 AM
#2
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Impressive research and an interesting historical narrative.  Thank you for the time and effort which went into this.

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 07-30-2019, 05:48 AM
#3
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Perhaps not useful to me personally, but I found it very interesting. Thank you Steve Smile

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 07-30-2019, 08:30 AM
#4
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Queens, NY
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Steve, you have conducted research and provided information to the community that is likely unavailable anywhere else in such succinct fashion. Your efforts are highly commendable. Thank you and well done!

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 07-30-2019, 10:23 AM
#5
  • RyznRio
  • Active Member
  • Connecticut
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You never know what information may be useful but I always know what is interesting and I appreciate your detective work.

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 07-30-2019, 12:44 PM
#6
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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Very good research and a very interesting read. A man after my own heart!

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 07-31-2019, 04:50 AM
#7
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Many thanks for your research and information. I recently bought a swing razor with some blades and will post some pictures later on. I know that some were sold in France by a swedish shop owner called KINDAL.


Do you also have the round bakelite box that goes with yours?

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 07-31-2019, 06:29 AM
#8
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(07-31-2019, 04:50 AM)Fabrice Wrote: Many thanks for your research and information. I recently bought a swing razor with some blades and will post some pictures later on. I know that soem were sold in France to a swedish shop owner called KINDAL.

Thanks and you're welcome. Interesting with the shop owner.

(07-31-2019, 04:50 AM)Fabrice Wrote: Do you also have the round bakelite box that goes with yours?

Funny you should ask. Not with the razor pictured above but my second Swing arrived in the mail literally today - with a box  Biggrin  also this one has an open comb head and I'm looking forward to trying it out as soon as I've cleaned it up.

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 07-31-2019, 07:41 AM
#9
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Nice ! 

Will post some pictures of mine tonight!   The other models I saw (in picture on other forums) were open comb with metal handle, closed comb with metal handle and travel razor.. .

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 07-31-2019, 09:08 AM
#10
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(07-31-2019, 07:41 AM)Fabrice Wrote: Nice ! 

Will post some pictures of mine tonight!   The other models I saw (in picture on other forums) were open comb with metal handle, closed comb with metal handle and travel razor.. .

Yes, they manufactured a bewildering range of models, some budget some high end. Much like their competitor Matador they were not very good at naming them clearly, so it's difficult to make a timeline. That was the sort of information I hoped to uncover but no such luck. An old catalog of models or something like that would be a goldmine.

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 07-31-2019, 11:41 PM
#11
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As promised... sorry for the bad picture quality... quite standard closed combed but in perfect condition



[Image: IMG-20190801-064540.jpg]

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 08-01-2019, 12:08 AM
#12
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(07-31-2019, 11:41 PM)Fabrice Wrote: As promised... sorry for the bad picture quality... quite standard closed combed but in perfect condition

Wonderful razor, congratulations. I have not seen that particular design before which is another example of the wide range of razors this company produced.

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 08-03-2019, 01:30 PM
#13
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Thank you very much Steve, I find this very interesting.
It may be worth knowing that Swing also specifically marketed razors to the Netherlands. As did the other Swedish brand Matador.

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 08-03-2019, 02:27 PM
#14
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(08-03-2019, 01:30 PM)efsk Wrote: Thank you very much Steve, I find this very interesting.
It may be worth knowing that Swing also specifically marketed razors to the Netherlands. As did the other Swedish brand Matador.

You're very welcome. That's interesting, so it seems they were exported actively to the continent. It's hard to come by specifics about Matador manufacturing and exports as well, by the way, but I haven't really looked into that.

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 08-08-2019, 10:00 AM
#15
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Very very interesting, love the history of this interesting brand. Thanks Steve so much for doing and presenting the Swing razor history!

Interestingly I own a beautiful vintage Swing aftershave splash bottle that I found at a Swedish auction site. It is the art deco one on the left, engraved Swing on the bottom. I wonder how that came about?

New to this site and cannot seem to find the attach photo button, sorry.

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 08-09-2019, 04:24 PM
#16
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Queens, NY
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(08-08-2019, 10:00 AM)Hybridtechshaver Wrote: Very very interesting, love the history of this interesting brand. Thanks Steve so much for doing and presenting the Swing razor history!

Interestingly I own a beautiful vintage Swing aftershave splash bottle that I found at a Swedish auction site. It is the art deco one on the left, engraved Swing on the bottom. I wonder how that came about?

New to this site and cannot seem to find the attach photo button, sorry.

Welcome to TSN. From an iProduct, click request desktop site. Then in the reply box settings bar look for the black button with the white letter “i”.

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 09-15-2019, 04:49 PM
#17
  • PJO
  • Member
  • Texas
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(07-31-2019, 04:50 AM)Fabrice Wrote: I know that some were sold in France by a swedish shop owner called KINDAL.

Love this thread — wonderful to have all this research and story-telling for one of my favorite razors.

I have the all-brass Swing AB that is gold-plated with a handle shaped like a bowling pin. Its black leather rectangular case says M KINDAL and PARIS, with something that looks like it might be a street address in between. Very nice heft for such a small razor — about 80g.

Also have the Swing with the bakelite handle (weighs in at about 47g) and the travel Swing with the take-apart handle.

Hmm, on my iPad I’m not seeing photo attachment option. Will try again later from computer.

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