11-21-2012, 07:23 AM
#1
  • Elbe
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  • Wolfsburg, Germany
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Real butterscotch handles are rare these days and they are highly wanted collector's items. For those who don't know: these handles are old and made from the early 30ies to the mid-50ies from a plastic named Catalin. Catalin is a resin related to bakelite. This Catalin has an interesting behaviour, the colour on the surface changes over the years under the influence of ultra-violet light. An ivory coloured handle will turn into a kind of dark orange named butterscotch.

Today there are retro handles in butterscotch available, e.g. from Simpsons and from Mühle. But that's not the real stuff! Honestly I'd feel ripped off, when I paid an extra charge just for a dark orange coloured resin handle instead of an ivory coloured resin handle. It's exactly the same, just another colour tone! And it's not real, it's a replica (or a fake, if you prefer this expression)

Wouldn't it be nice to have a genuine Catalin handle in a limited edition brush? One could see it ageing, changing colour, getting patina over the years!

Why aren't these brushes on sale? Is it impossible to source Catalin these days, because production stopped decades ago? Has it serious disadvantages in production or in use, like a bad haptic or something like that?

When I was a small boy we had a radio in a catalin made housing, and I remember that it had a strange smell, when one touched it. Don’t know, if that’s a general characteristic of Catalin. But perhaps that's a reason? Or is the catalin-use forbidden nowadays by crazy EU-bureaucrats ?

Anybody out there who can enlighten me?

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 11-21-2012, 07:47 AM
#2
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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I guess all of the butterscotch handles are fake (whether resin or catalin) as they do not taste like butterscotch. Tongue

The Catalin handles were not marketed as butterscotch...that term is a modern invention.

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 11-21-2012, 08:37 AM
#3
  • ajc347
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  • Exeter, UK
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I suspect that it maybe due to the chemical process involved in producing Catalin being potentially problematic in terms of toxicity given the amount of formaldehyde needed to produce and the fact that it shrinks and cracks over time.

Most of the real Butterscotch brush handles I have seen have been prone to cracking for this very reason.

I agree with you entirely about the changing colour being cool though. It would be great if this could be incorporated into modern brush handles using modern materials.

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 11-21-2012, 09:28 AM
#4
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Well, obviously the Catalin is defective so why in the world would anyone actually want to produce any more?

Forge the few hundred wet shavers who would want it. You need to sell thousands of tons worth to make production runs viable.

Modern acrylics are here to stay. Catalin is gone unless you can find someone willing to mix you a small batch.

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 11-21-2012, 09:46 AM
#5
  • Arcadies
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  • Greeneville, TN
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It sounds good in theory but in addition to the above mentioned concerns with Catalin, I also don't think many wet shavers would pay a premium for a limited edition "Ivory-scotch" brush that will not mature for several decades..hell a lot of us will probably be dead by then. Tongue

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 11-21-2012, 10:05 AM
#6
  • Elbe
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  • Wolfsburg, Germany
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(11-21-2012, 09:46 AM)Arcadies Wrote: It sounds good in theory but in addition to the above mentioned concerns with Catalin, I also don't think many wet shavers would pay a premium for a limited edition "Ivory-scotch" brush that will not mature for several decades..hell a lot of us will probably be dead by then. Tongue

True. I have no clue how long it took, that the brushes started to change colour. A year, five years, a decade or more?

And yes, I know that production of Catalin stopped ages ago and that no one will start to make more just to serve the needs of a few nuts with their shaving brushes. But if some kilos would be lying around in a corner somewhere on the Isle of Man…? Why not?

Mind you, these nuts pay a lot more just to get the same bloody handle in an orange tone just when you name it butterscotch. How much more would they pay for something real? Even if they may have to wait fifty years?

The thing with the shrinking an cracking plus toxicity during production are strong arguments against it..

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 11-21-2012, 10:13 AM
#7
  • Arcadies
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  • Greeneville, TN
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(11-21-2012, 10:05 AM)Elbe Wrote:
(11-21-2012, 09:46 AM)Arcadies Wrote: It sounds good in theory but in addition to the above mentioned concerns with Catalin, I also don't think many wet shavers would pay a premium for a limited edition "Ivory-scotch" brush that will not mature for several decades..hell a lot of us will probably be dead by then. Tongue

True. I have no clue how long it took, that the brushes started to change colour. A year, five years, a decade or more?

And yes, I know that production of Catalin stopped ages ago and that no one will start to make more just to serve the needs of a few nuts with their shaving brushes. But if some kilos would be lying around in a corner somewhere on the Isle of Man…? Why not?

Mind you, these nuts pay a lot more just to get the same bloody handle in an orange tone just when you name it butterscotch. How much more would they pay for something real? Even if they may have to wait fifty years?

The thing with the shrinking an cracking plus toxicity during production are strong arguments against it..

Well, some of the final Somerset rod stock is turning a light pink/rose color now and I think that stock is about 15-20 years old? Hell, that final stock may not even be true Catalin, I'm sure someone in the know will correct me if I am wrong.

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 11-21-2012, 10:14 AM
#8
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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"real" butterscotch would be much too sticky when wet. Hehe

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 11-21-2012, 10:16 AM
#9
  • beartrap
  • Resident Цирюльник
  • Southern California
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(11-21-2012, 10:14 AM)bullgoose Wrote: "real" butterscotch would be much too sticky when wet. Hehe

I never get tired of butterscotch jokes! I love the stuff Biggrin

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 11-21-2012, 10:53 AM
#10
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Well, interesting thread. I always wondered why the semi cult following of the butterscotch handles. It makes more sense to me now.

But, for a custom handle maker...
Buy catalin

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 11-21-2012, 12:22 PM
#11
  • OldDog23
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  • BeanTown MetroWest
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The butterscotch COLOR, some just find pleasing to the eye. makes a change from "Ivory" or "Ebony", clear acrylic, etc. some of the older resins did more than just "age" nicely. exposed to heat, water and light, they had a tendency to crumble (bakelite, early celluloid, etc) and otherwise deteriorate over time. "butterscotch"colored resin was originally a concession to real amber, a more rare, costly material, which is VERY fragile. it saw alot of use on high-end pipe stems and such. seems people have always found the color appealing. one of the first renderings of colored resin was to find a substitute for true amber.* genuine amber can easily be ruined just from cleaning. I always liked "butterscotch" pipe stems and knife scales, not enough to buy it exclusively, but being a sighted person, I like having a few handles in the mix.

*quick edit: off topic, another reason was to create a replacement for tortoise shell. Ladies' hair ornaments and tortoise combs were all the rage during the late Colonial through Victorian eras. It created a huge demand for t-shell both domestically and in Europe, amidst a dwindling supply of natural tortoise. The town I grew up in was Leominster, MA, the "pioneer plastic city". In early Colonial times, the area was involved in trading with Native Americans to obtain tortoise shell. Comb manufacture was an important industry here. Early plastics (and resins) saw much early development there after tortoise supply began to dry up, post Victorian age.

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 11-21-2012, 09:41 PM
#12
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Personally, I like to buy things that last. We all know the old bakelite and catalin handles didn't age very well. Modern materials are much more durable and a safer material to turn.

Simpson's butterscotch handles cost more than I care to pay for a "different color plastic", but they really are gorgeous.

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 11-21-2012, 10:11 PM
#13
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Ahhhhhh, butterscotch!!! Yummmmy!

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 11-21-2012, 11:30 PM
#14
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
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Reading threads like this just re enforces that I dont know that much about brushes.I didnt know that info about Catalin and how old handles were made with that material.Now is a good question to ask the brushmakers. Thanks Elbe !

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 11-21-2012, 11:54 PM
#15
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(11-21-2012, 09:41 PM)cessnabird Wrote: Personally, I like to buy things that last. We all know the old bakelite and catalin handles didn't age very well. Modern materials are much more durable and a safer material to turn.

Simpson's butterscotch handles cost more than I care to pay for a "different color plastic", but they really are gorgeous.

Different color acrylic!

Okay, fine it's still a thermoplastic.

The price difference is no different than Jade or Horn or any other non-standard color. Ie, white, ivory, or black.

Whether it actually costs that much more is a different story.

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 11-22-2012, 01:21 AM
#16
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Do you mean you want a Catalin based handle brush so that it becomes butterscotch color in the future?

Or do you want a company to make butterscotch?
Wouldn't that be difficult? They'd first have to make it in catalin then find a catalyst to get it to butterscotch status to sell....

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 11-22-2012, 02:42 AM
#17
  • Elbe
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(11-22-2012, 01:21 AM)hedonist222 Wrote: Do you mean you want a Catalin based handle brush so that it becomes butterscotch color in the future?

Yup. I have no clue if I'd see the result of this long term experiment before I die, but even then, wouldn't it be fun?

But taking into account that there are most likely no surplus Catalin rods lying around somewhere in the world just waiting for treatment on a lathe, considering, that Catalin is not made any longer and that it has different other issues with shrinking, cracking, toxic problems during manufacturing I did not know before, I now know that this is not a very probable project.

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 11-22-2012, 04:13 AM
#18
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Yes, finally. All this talk of floppy, backbone, scritch, flow-through, soft tips, etc...

Now, let's talk about taste!

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 11-22-2012, 08:59 AM
#19
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(11-22-2012, 04:13 AM)Egmont Wrote: Yes, finally. All this talk of floppy, backbone, scritch, flow-through, soft tips, etc...

Now, let's talk about taste!

Considering how a new brush smells, I'm sure the taste would be horrific. Tongue

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 11-22-2012, 01:30 PM
#20
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(11-22-2012, 02:42 AM)Elbe Wrote: Yup. I have no clue if I'd see the result of this long term experiment before I die, but even then, wouldn't it be fun?

But taking into account that there are most likely no surplus Catalin rods lying around somewhere in the world just waiting for treatment on a lathe, considering, that Catalin is not made any longer and that it has different other issues with shrinking, cracking, toxic problems during manufacturing I did not know before, I now know that this is not a very probable project.

Did you not read the thread? Or do you just want to gripe about what you perceive as no longer existing??

I posted a link to suppliers of Catalin rods. Rods available today. I can't do it all for you, you must make an effort.

Or am I missing something?

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