Search This Blog

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How Much Should I Pay For My Vintage, Shave-Ready Razor?

This is a question I get asked frequently. And if you are looking for answers, forget about eBay - the uninformed buying going on there is legendary.  Let's just deal with the basics for now - a common vintage razor, from Solingen Germany or Sheffield England.  It has plain black celluloid or Bakelite scales.  It has a 4/8 or 5/8 blade which is hollow ground.  It has no rust or corrosion, although there may be some old pitting or other imperfections, but because it is shave-ready, none are allowed to affect the edge.

A basic razor of the variety indicated above should, in my opinion, sell for a minimum of $60-$70.  If that seems high to you, consider that the common everyday modern equivalent, a razor like the "Dovo Carbon Steel Half Hollow Best Quality Razor, 5/8" Black Handle" sells for $74.95 on  And while a new Dovo is a good razor, I would not consider it shave-ready, although it certainly comes sharp.  The term "shave-ready" means that not only can the razor cut hair, but that it will give you a close, comfortable shave.  This can only be attained by experienced hands using a combination of stones and strops and then a shave-test (yes, one actually needs to SHAVE with the razor to ensure it is fit for service) before it is sent to the customer.  So if you wanted that Dovo to be shave ready, you would have to add around $20 to that price, which is roughly what it would cost to send that new Dovo out for a proper honing.  Plus, you would have the inconvenience of having to wait for it to be done.  And if you are like me, the idea of waiting another week to get that razor into service is unthinkable.

You might also want to consider that the 70+ year old straight razor is a collectible as well as a shaving implement.  Personally, I love the idea of shaving with old razors from Germany, England and the United States of America - the older the better.  These razors were not made as novelties - as most modern straight razors are; but as practical instruments used by men all over the world. Your great grandfather used one, as did mine.  For me, new razors simply do not have the sense of history that I crave.  You might feel differently.  And if you do, you will find yourself shopping elsewhere.

A seller of shave-ready vintage and antique straight razors, like me, has to:
  • Buy the razor; 
  • Store the razor;
  • Determine if it CAN be made shave ready (remember, nicks or corrosion at the edge mean that the razor cannot be used);
  • Remove old "gunk", rust and whatever else may be stuck to the razor or scales;
  • Hone the razor to shave-readiness;
  • Sterilize the blade (for me);
  • Shave test the razor.  If it doesn't pass, it goes back to the hones for more work;
  • Sterilize the blade again (for you);
  • Photograph the razor and write a description (around 1/2 hours work);
  • Sell it, paying all the fees associated with doing so;
  • Ship it to you.
So if an honest seller cannot get at least $60-$70 for a common, shave ready razor, doing all of the above becomes unaffordable. The result: you don't get your classic, straight-razor shave.

Now tell me...what Gentleman can live with that?

No comments:

Post a Comment