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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Back In Razors In A BIG Way - Check this one out!

Since I haven't been selling razors for awhile, I decided to offer something HUGE for my first one after my "break."  You may not be able to afford it, but have a look and view a TRUE rarity.  The following excerpt is from the eBay listing:

Rare Antique Straight Razor. Sterling Silver. Made By Unger Bros., NJ - Famous Jewelers, Silversmiths & Goldsmiths. 5/8 Barbers Notch. Shave Ready
Well folks, it's been awhile since my last razor listing, so I wanted to start them again with something really spectacular.  If you follow the razor market on eBay or in the non-virtual world, you are aware that some scale materials are very rare.  Based on personal experience, I would consider the rarest scale materials to be (in order):
  • Stag
  • Pressed Horn
  • Mother of Pearl
  • Aluminum
  • Sterling Silver
  • Gold
I may have left something out of the list (I'm sure there is a platinum scaled razor out there somewhere), but if you own a razor with any of these, you have something special.  It is not surprising that razors were scaled in common materials.  Razors were already expensive and how many men out there would pay a couple of hundred dollars in today's money to have their Mach 3 cast in sterling?
For your consideration today, we have a fabulous, ornate Unger Bros. 5/8 Barbers Notched straight razor in elaborately crafted sterling silver scales.  This piece is simply beautiful and incredibly rare. I can go a year without having the opportunity to buy a razor like this and many years without finding one with this degree of beauty and craftsmanship. Most of the sterling razors I have seen are fairly plain, but not many were made by companies like Unger Bros.
Unger Brothers Company History
The Unger Brothers had both a factory and sales facilities in Newark, NJ.  The company advertised as manufacturing jewelers, silversmiths and glass cutters.

The Unger family originated in Germany and came to live in Newark, NJ 1849. The elder son, Herman, started a jewelry business around 1871.  He began to make sterling silver items in 1878.  Eventually, his four brothers joined the company.  Sadly, by late 1879, only two of the five brothers were still alive.  Herman and Eugene continued to operate the business - Herman, the chief silversmith and Eugene, the chief engraver.  Both were officers of the company, which experienced its greatest financial success in the period from 1895 to 1907.
In 1880 Eugene Unger married Emma Dickinson.  Her brother, Philemon Dickinson, was hired by Unger, eventually becoming its primary artistic designer.  Philemon designed an extensive line of beautiful repousse Art Nouveau pieces for which the company became renowned.  It is very likely that this razor was personally designed by Philemon.

Unger had incredibly high quality standards.  When company staff judged molds and dies as being too worn to continue to be used, they were often sold to other companies which used them to make jewelry. The Unger hallmark was eradicated on these molds and dies. This piece has their hallmark, very small but very clear and is guaranteed authentic.
Unger Bros. was considered to be one of the premier makers of Art Nouveau sterling silver items in America.  Their most popular lines were "dresser sets" adorned with amazing Art Nouveau designs incorporating cherubs, flowers, ocean waves and seashells.  It is quite possible that this razor came from such a set.
The Razor
This razor is personalized in engraved script on one side with the initials "EJR."

These scales are remarkably free of major damage.  There are no holes, tears or corrosion spots. There is a slight inward bend to the back scale that does not interfere with operation or detract from the beauty of the piece.  The hallmarks and "STERLING 925 FINE" are along the inside edge of the scale directly to the left of the head of the cherub. The scales are "single pin" style, with the top pin actually being a tiny flathead screw.  While screws are almost always replacements, this one has the look of being original to the razor.  Screws and nails were often used to attach new scales to older blade to replace broken scales.  Since BOTH the scales and the blade are marked with Unger Bros. identification, this was clearly not the case here.  Perhaps the designers felt that, given the possibility of damaging the delicate design with a hammer, a screw would be a better choice than a pin. There is no corrosion present on the razor, nor evidence of any prior major damage. There are just a few spots and a bit of "lather burn" that make up a minority of the blade's mirror finish.

With all of that history, who cares how the razor shaves?  Well, I do. And many of my clients love to shave with their rarest razors from time to time.  I honed this razor up and found that it gives a fantastic shave.  It has the barbers notch, which just adds to the interest.  Exercise some care in closing the razor.  It is snug, but not as tight in the scales as would be a razor pinned with a more common and flexible material.

Truly, this is one of the finest razors I have ever handled.  Given its maker and scarcity, even a high price paid for this razor will make for an excellent investment.

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