03-25-2021, 08:20 AM
  • German
  • Simpson 2 Band Aficionado
  • USA
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This is a bit lengthy, but bear with me…

As everybody knows, I have an affinity to 2 Band brushes, especially Simpsons from the “Grey/Green Box” era, the legendary batches around 2011-13. I (have) own(ed) quite a few of the brushes of that time and they are amongst my favorite classics.

One brush that I missed out on so far is the famous “ASTOR”, Simpson’s 90 year anniversary brush that was offered in 2009/10 as a limited edition of 90 brushes. I never got a hand on one and the occasional moment one popped up for sale, I always missed out on.

Thanks to the generosity of @ChiefBroom, the Astor No. 7 landed on my shores to try out. I thought this to be a good opportunity to compare said Astor to two other classics of that era: Duke 3 in Super Two Band (2011) and a Rooney 1/2 in Heritage 2 Band.

[Image: hETFPLG.jpg]

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Here are my thoughts after using all three in the past week:

“Technical” Data:

Simpson ASTOR
  • 2 band (2009)
  • Knot: 22/50mm, (pointy) bulb
  • Handle Hight: 57mm
  • Handle: faux horn
Simpson Duke 3
  • 2 band (2011)
  • Knot: 25/50mm, classic bulb
  • Handle Hight: 45mm
  • Handle: classic cream
Rooney 1/2
  • 2 Band Heritage (2010) - THE original “Gel” batch
  • Knot: 25/50mm, fan
  • Handle Hight: 45mm
  • Handle: imitation bone
Ingoing remarks:
I exclusively face lather with SV Soaps and I shave daily with no exceptions. I used “Stella Alpina” for all the shaves with these brushes. I prefer now mostly handle sizes between 55-60mm as my preferred knot size has been moving up over the years to 26-28mm diameter knots. I typically prefer 2 Bands over 3 Bands, own about 75 brushes (right now) and have tried probably 200+ brushes over the past 11 years (since I started using brushes as part of my shaving routine). Other than in my early German military days I have never used an electric razor. I always use a Mach 3 razor with an Edwin Jagger Chatsworth handle. I use three passes: with the grain, diagonal and against the grain. I lather up for the first pass only, the other two work well with the remaining lubrication (for me). This gives me a close shave without any irritations. I change cartridges once a week.

I truly enjoyed using all of the brushes, especially as it seems like a trip back in time when knot sizes were smaller (25mm is already on the higher end), handles were typically white (the faux horn Astor already a “looker”) and the brush market was dominated by a few traditional brands rather than a myriad of hobbyists / artisans flooding the market. Also, LEs were actually “Limited Editions”, I.e. there are 90 Astor anniversary brushes and that was it! I think Simpson has only revived the Astor recently for a Best Badger edition in classic cream material.

All three brushes are in mint condition, despite their age of 10+ years! All three brushes are of medium density paired with excellent flow through, but clearly the Astor is the least dense of the three - which is a pity and its biggest fault! In the “golden” years of 2011-13 Simpson stuffed their 2 Bands to a max, which given the thinness of the hair, was a lot of brush! All the Simpson 2 Bands of that time that I own(ed) - see my signature photo - have a very full knot. If you buy a Duke 3 today (regardless which grade), it typically comes with a 23mm knot. The example here has a fantastic 25mm knot! 

The Astor lacks density, and has the smallest knot, and has a rather pointy bulb form. Interestingly, around that time Simpson delivered quite a few overly pointy bulb knots on its 2 bands, leading to complaints. I had a Chubby 1 that was almost unusable because its bulb was so pointy. Maybe one specific person that formed knots that way? We will never know.

The face feel of the two Simpsons is very similar. It was said that prior to 2010 Simpson had various 2 Band hair suppliers with great variety in quality. You will find quite a few Simpson 2 bands around that time with quite scritchy knots. Then they supposedly consolidated into one supplier that was able to deliver the consistency and great quality of the 2011-13 batches. Maybe true, maybe not.

What makes the Simpson hair so unique is the combination of softness of tips and its resilience amplified by the bulb shape. You feel every hair touching your face and it is as soft as you could ever imagine. Both Simpsons have a wonderful face feel, albeit I prefer the Duke over the Astor due to knot size and density.

The Rooney: famed Heritage hair, “Gel Edition”. The original batch, that gave birth to the “gel” attribute. Only that one batch of hair had the “gel” feel with clumping hair when wet and crusty when dry and the “hooks”. Many think - and so do I - that this batch is actually “defective”, I.e. overly chemically treated, bleached too much. If by accident or by experiment we will never know. For sure, the later batches did not have the same characteristics. And everybody went crazy after it! Still today these brushes sell at levels above original selling price - and mint ones are hard to come by. But the face feel of these brushes is unique and very pleasing. Different from modern copies of overly bleached/treated “gel” hair, these Rooneys do not behave like a “mop” on the face. I still own two Rooneys of that batch (the other a 2XL) and I love them!

I was always drawn to the Astor due to its handle, simple but beautiful, and the right hight, and faux horn, which just looks great with 2 Band anyway. And again, at the time there was not much color! Brushes handles were typically white/cream colored imitating bone or ivory, few ebony, some horn and plexi handles. When Rooney introduced 2XLs in faux horn and Jade brushes in later Heritage batches it was sensational and they sold like hotcakes.

Below a summary of my impressions of the three brushes right next two each other. I want to thank Ken (ChiefBroom) from Paladin again for allowing me to try out his Astor.

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So where does this leave us? All three are great brush experiences from a time where hair batches in general seemed to be of better quality. Rooney Heritage and Simpson 2 Bands of that time do never disappoint. However, the Astor leaves me behind asking for MORE:

What about an Astor type handle with a 26mm knot with a hybrid bulb? In faux horn or other materials?

Ken, are you listening?

54 2,237
 03-25-2021, 10:51 AM
  • ischiapp
  • Senior Member
  • Forio d'Ischia, Naples, Italy
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(03-25-2021, 08:20 AM)German Wrote: What about an Astor type handle with a 26mm knot with a hybrid bulb? In faux horn or other materials?

Please, someone summon Ken.

0 2,616
 03-25-2021, 04:23 PM
  • chazt
  • Super Moderator
  • Queens, NY
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Georg, thank you for the informative and well composed write up. You’re a fortunate man to have curated such a collection. Enjoy Smile

22 6,255
 03-25-2021, 05:34 PM
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Excellent write-up, Georg.

60 11,778
 03-26-2021, 06:55 AM
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Very well detailed, Georg. 
I've always admired your brush colllection.  Thumbsup

93 21,373
 03-26-2021, 08:02 AM
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Great post, Georg. Thank you.

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