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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Late Night Thoughts On Old Straight Razors...A Ghost Story.

Have you ever just sat down and looked closely at a straight razor which you know hasn't seen the light of day in a century?

This is an experience I have quite often.  And looking at these old razor I sometimes feel that I can see flashes of the former owners reflected in the blades.

You could tell the folks who were in a hurry to get their shave - they tended to "lean" on the razor when honing, placing their finger on the tip of the spine as they ran the blade over the stone. Over time, of course, that part of the razor tended to be overhoned, leaving the razor narrower at the tip than the rest of the blade.  Then there is "the brute" who seemed to feel that extreme force exerted at the center of the razor would "force" the blade sharp - leaving the telltale overhoned center on the spine and, eventually a "frown" on the blade. 

Then there is the well-worn blade which is much narrower than it used to be; the hone wear is extensive but even.  Here is the sign of a man who used and loved his razor and maybe even passed it down to his son, who put yet more honest wear on it.  Then, probably around the end of WWI, it was abandoned and sat unnoticed in a drawer for decades before finally finding its way into my hands.

Maybe I am overly romanticizing a simple instrument for cutting facial hair.  But it is thoughts like these that find me generally opposed to the "extreme makeover" that seems to be so popular these days.  Actions like replacing old, structurally sound horn scales with new materials like Micarta and heavily regrinding pitted blades, just seem to take the spirit out of these once dearly loved items.

And perhaps the screaming noises we hear when putting an old razor to the grinder aren't all the mere sounds of metal giving way to rock. Or maybe it is just our imaginations running away with us in the cool, dark cellar.

Something to think about when we put that blade to our throats in the morning.

Pleasant dreams :-)

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