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The Shaver's Forum

Send us your questions about shaving and we will post them here for our readers to answer. Useful or interesting answers will be published here. To participate, send E-mail to shave@simplyquality.org

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Q: Hello, I am looking for a Leopold Ascher Shaving Brush. They were made in NY in the earlier part of the 20th century. If anyone has any recommendations about whom to ask or where I might find such an item please let me know. Thank You, Zoe zluhtala@hotmail.com, 415.307.3720

Q: My dad recently passed away and left a collection of shaving mugs that he had collected for more than 50 years. I am interested in hearing from anyone who might be interested in purchasing the collection of approximately 150 mugs. Sara Parker (251)867-2175 svparker@bellsouth.net

Q: I have never been able to get a really close shave on my neck without suffering major razor burn. If I shave from the bottom of my neck to the top (with the whiskers) I do not get a close shave and if I then try to shave top to bottom it feels really rough and I get razor burn. I shave in the shower, with a mirror and use a moisturizer after shaving. Any advice you could give that would help me shave closer without getting burned would be greatly appreciated.

A: To get a close shave on the neck use a good medicated shaving cream, shave with the grain of the beard, then shave a second time, shaving carefully against the grain. See the more complete answer to a similar question below.

Q: Where can I get soap to fit my Old Spice mug? Q: There was a time when OLD SPICE made a wonderful SOAP for brush shaving. (Made a mug too - which I still have). Can anyone direct me to a really GREAT SOAP for brush shaving? I wrote to Procter & Gamble (who now own the Old Spice line) and they have no plans to re-market the soap.

A: I came across a company call Washed White Soaps and Such. They have a shaving soap which should fit. Their e-mail address is gretmoore@juno.com. Also, it is reported that both the Burt's Bee and Pre de Provence soaps fit in the Old Spice Mug (3"diameter x 2"deep). The Burt's is 2 3/4diam x 1"tall and the Pre de Provence is 2 1/2"diam x 1 1/4" tall. The Pre is probably the best soap. Wet the bottom when putting it into the mug and it will not rattle around. Both are available from Barclay-Crocker.

Q: I collect old shaving mugs and have a collection of Old Spice mugs. Can anyone out there tell me what the numbers on the bottom stand for? Thanks for any information about these mugs would be appreciated.

A: The numbers may be lot numbers, date numbers, manufacturing plant numbers, mould numbers, etc. Are the numbers on the bases of otherwise identical mugs the same? Then these are likely mould numbers. Mould numbers are often used when a manufacturer produces a large variety of different forms -- i.e. a glass bottle manufacturer, or, in this case, a ceramics manufacturer.

The mugs were likely made by pouring liquid clay, called slip, into a mould of at least two pieces. Once the required thickness of clay has dried, the remainder of the slip is poured off. The clay is left to cure, or dry, further; when the clay is leather hard (a term describing unfired clay hard enough to support it's own weight, but soft enough that it can still be marked with a fingernail), the mould is removed. If the number you ask about is a mould number, then all mugs made from this mould will have the same number, regardless of decoration (it is only the form of the mug which is designated).

After removal from the mould, the mugs are decorated and fired (or fired and then decorated, depending on the methods of decoration), and then shipped out.

If you know who manufactured the piece, and have access to their lists of mould numbers, it is sometimes possible to get an idea of when the piece was made (mould numbers were often used for only a given period of time).

Sincerely, Megan Springate uniques@interlog.com

Q: Can you recommend a good, reasonable brush holder? The only one I have seen listed is an acrylic one from Germany that costs $12.00 (very reasonable), but shipping is $10.00 and there is a $6.00 check processing fee.

A: Try the Acrylic Drip Stand from Colonel Conk.

Q: Do you know where I could purchase a double edge razor? I have been looking for a long handled holder for double edged blades. I can not find one in any store near me. I would appreciate any information as to where I can purchase this particular razor.

A: Try Col. Icabod Conk Products. Or, for collectors items, contact Neil Greer at E-mail: neilin@hclib.hcl.lib.mo.us He collects safety razors and double edge razors, and would like to locate others who collect them.

Also, Some double-edge safety razors are listed for sale at Uniclectica Antiques and Collectibles Online. To find the listings, go to http://www.interlog.com/~uniques and click on "Razors Etc."

Q: Do you have any idea where I could find a shaving brush with a four inch bristle? I have been looking for one for my 87 year old father, with no luck. The brush was four inches long so it would fit down into the cup better.

A: Try Col. Icabod Conk Products.

Q: I'm trying to find Burma Shave images on the Web, or elsewhere. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

A: Try Two-Lane Roads remembers Burma-Shave signs and Burma Shave Slogans but be careful, they often discourage shaving with a mug and brush! L

Q: We have an argument: A) says more men shave with safety razors. B) says more use electric razors. Does anyone have any reliable statistics on this subject?

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Q: Is the old wives tale: "Shaving makes your beard come in thicker" true or false?

A: According to a Doctor of Pharmacy student at the University of Georgia we were told that this is indeed an old wives tale. Shaving will not make the hair thicker.

Q: Does anyone know where to find good shaving brushes for travel?

A: Try Taylor of Old Bond Street, 74 Jermyn Street, St. James's, London SW1Y 6NP, England. Telephone 0171-930-5544 or fax 0171-930-8482. The brush is contained in it's handle, unscrew, reverse, screw in on the outside, and viola! A full size shave brush, and an excellent badger at that.

Q: I don't think of myself as having a really heavy beard, but I do have consistent coverage over more of my face and neck than a lot of men, and it grows fast. If I don't shave against the growth of my whiskers my girlfriend sometimes doubts that I've shaved at all; if I do it can burn like hell. Any suggestions?

A: There are several parts to answering your question. To get a really close shave, you must shave against the grain--but not directly! When you shave a day's growth of whiskers against the grain, they have the leverage to pull the skin of your face into the path of the razor, causing it to peel the outer layer of your skin off, as well as giving you the close shave you want. This is what 'razor burn' really is. To get the shave you want, I would suggest the following procedure.

  1. Take a hot shower first. Wet your beard repeatedly during the shower and let it begin to get softer. Run the water liberally all over your face. Make it as hot as you can stand.
  2. Get a good badger brush and some good shaving soap and really lather your beard. Use the badger bristle to get 'under' the whiskers--use it against the grain. Let your face remain wet with the lather for some time--don't let it dry. Use very hot water--as hot as you can stand. You're softening your beard. You don't want to shave it as coarse as it can be--it will pull your skin too much.
  3. Use the soap, or a good shaving cream (like Trumper's Sandalwood or Rose, available through Green Pond) that contains glycerin to provide a good lubrication for your razor.
  4. How sharp is your razor blade? It has to be very, very sharp. Don't be a cheapskate here. A sharp blade will also save you nicks and cuts. Shave once, WITH THE GRAIN. NO EXCEPTIONS. Go slowly, and shave completely. You want to cut the hairs close enough to reduce their leverage against your razor.
  5. Re-lather. Now, what you want to do is to shave at an angle to the grain of your beard. NOT AGAINST IT! Don't go directly against the grain, but perhaps at a 90 degree angle against it. You'll feel the drag of your razor increase as it finds hair to cut. Keep the lather wet. Re-apply as necessary. Don't shave dry at any point.
  6. Re-lather again. Now you're going to use your fingers, against the grain, to find the areas where the whiskers are still a bit long. Rubbing against the grain gently will tell you in a second where there are still long hairs. You don't want to risk razor burn on areas that are not presenting problems. Use your fingers and the brush to continue to moisturize these areas. Set your razor at a slightly sharper angle now. You're not going to go directly against the grain--but at a sharper angle than last time . . . almost against the grain. If blood starts appearing YOU'RE BEING TOO AGGRESSIVE! Back off.
  7. Finally--although its not perfect--you can still feel some bristly hair--BE SATISFIED. You can't shave closer without significant damage to your skin.
  8. Moisturize. You can now use several different after shave products. If you value your life, don't even consider using a commercial aftershave that contains alcohol. After shaving this close, you'll die. It's not worth it and there is no benefit. If you're bleeding at all, try a block of alum (also available through Green Pond), dipped in water, on the specific spot. It will help stop the bleeding. Trumper's Moisturizer (Green Pond) is to die for. Buy it. Use it. Other quality products are available and you should experiment. Some may work better for you than they do for others.

Lastly--sometimes you can shave like this one time and feel great. But what you must watch out for are razor bumps and razor burn which will appear somewhat later if they do occur. Your letter indicates that razor burn is your primary problem Give it a day or perhaps two to let your face recover from the stress. If you continue to have razor burn using the method above--you're probably being to aggressive. If you have razor bumps--which form after a good first shave and then seem to remain with you--perhaps try Tend Skin products. They may tighten the hair follicle and reduce ingrown hairs or other shaving problems.

Q: Does anyone have a good way to get a clean shave on the upper lip? It is too tender for me to go against the grain, and with the grain doesn't do much. any good electric's out there for that spot?

A: See the answer to the above question.

Q: I have a nickel "silver" shaving brush that my wife gave to me a few years back that has lost the majority of its bristles. Does anyone know of place to get a brush "re-bristled"? This one is very nice to use and has sentimental value so I'd like to keep it around.

A:. Try Brush Repair at Shavemac.

Q: I would like to have some tips and pointers on shaving with a straight razor. I feel that I don't have the correct angle and am not shaving as closely as I should.

A: The article, Sharpen a Razor Instructions from the KnifeCenter ends with a description how to shave with a straight razor. Also, see the next Q & A and this helpful article from razor central.

Q: Can you recommend any books on the proper way to shave with a straight razor?

A: Two books that have been recommended are : Practice and Science of Standard Barbering, Henderson Barber College, Henderson KY 1938, 1958 and Standardized Textbook of Barbering, 4th ed. Association of Master Barbers and Beauticians, 1950

Also, Check out our list of books on shaving (although I'm not sure any cover what you are asking about, please let me know.) Also,

Q: Can you recommend some sources for the purchase of a good quality straight razor (also called a cut throat razor) and a strop?

A: Try Col. Ichabod Conk Products

Q: I was trying to get my father a shaving brush for his 65th birthday. Any idea of what the best would be for about $50?

A: The one I use is the Deluxe pure badger brush from Colonel Conk.

Q: Can you tell me where I can buy an antique barbers chair, reasonably priced and in good condition?

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Q: One of the few possessions that my great grandfather brought with him from Germany when he immigrated to America was a straight razor. It was made by Rolka & Klein, Solingen-Germany and has a black celluloid handle with a number stamped in the back of the blade "2795." I was hoping to fine out a little more about this company and this particular straight razor. Do you have any info. or where might I look for such information. Thanks.

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Q: I had always used the regular safety razors and am considering switching to a straight razor as I would like a closer shave. Will a straight razor provide a closer shave and is it worth the effort? Is it OK to shave against the grain with either a straight or safety razor?

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Q: I am interested in finding unusual collectible shaving mugs in different shapes. I currently have one in the shape of a fish, where the water spout is the open mouth of the fish. Does anyone own odd shaped mugs? Where can I get them? Also, why are so many mugs feminine in design? Thanks

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Q: I go to a barber who uses a straight razor to tidy up the neck and around the ears. I am concerned about the possibility of contracting some disease from the razor (aids, Hep C, etc.). Do you know of any transmission of disease from a barbers' razor?

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Q: I am writing a research paper about a product called the Resinal Shaving stick. I have not been able to gather much information about the product. I was wondering if any of you had heard of this product and knew a little about its history, or uses. Any information about the product, or something similar would be greatly appreciated.

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Q: I have a Valet Autostrop Razor. I would like to know if you or anyone else knows where I might get blades for it? Is there a substitute blade that will fit?

A: Try CAMB Machine Knives or contact: rckandrews45@gmail.com

Q: I am looking for a straight razor with a unique handle. The standard seems to be plastic or peral imatation. I am looking for something really unique, maybe engraved, or real pearl, but cant find anyone that carries straight razors that have intresting designs.

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Q: Is it true that normal athletic guys are now shaving their arms and their legs as well as their faces? I have a 13 year old son who is in every school athletic program, and he assures me that "everybody is doing it." My son is not gay. I told him that the only people on the internet that I found "hairless" were women and naked gay men. Please reply. I am a single mom who needs some straight advice. Thanks.

A: One reader replies: Shaving body hair is very common in certain sports. I am a triathlete (straight), and my experience has shown me that swimmers shave to reduce drag (increase speed) in the water. Bicyclists shave (legs only) to reduce chance of infection should they fall (legs are attached to pedals). Triathletes shave because of the inherent nature of swimming and bicycling in the sport. Although I have never wrestled, I understand that wrestlers also shave to help avoid "rug-burn" on the mats.

Although shaving body hair is very common for some athletes, I would like to point a few things out before you 'okay' a 13 year old to do it.

  1. Shaving to reduce drag DOES make you faster, but it is more psychological (you 'feel' smooth, and fast). It may shave a fraction of a second off of a lap. This could be very important for Olympic-aspiring athletes, but not very important for the common high-school athlete.
  2. All swimmers and cyclists I know shave ONLY the morning of a competition (they don't shave to let the world know they are an athlete, they shave for the true intent of shaving).
  3. Cyclist, swimmer, wrestler, or not, my 13 year old would not be shaving. I also wouldn't let my 13 year old girl wear a black micro-bikini because 'all the girls are doing it'. When the child is old/mature enough to understand and realize the benefits of shaving is the time to start.... maybe late teens in a highly competitive arena.

Q:  I am looking for a straight razor called the Simmone Cadillac. Do you know where I can find one?

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Q: Does anyone have any information on the history and value of the Remington 60 deluxe electric shaver model no. 653 shaver made in 1952?

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Q: I have a shaving set from Taylor of Old Bond Street in London, England. The bristles are falling out of the metal handle. Do you know where I can get this brush repaired? Thank you.

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Q:  Do you know where I can purchase some Wilkenson double edge safety razors for my grandfather's razor?? We've looked everywhere...

A: Try CAMB Machine Knives.

Q: I had an Eclipse hot lather machine which finally quit after 7-8 years. I cant find the company or anyone else who makes an inexpensive machine for home use. Can anyone help supply a source?

A: I have been able to find one made by Conair. Conair phone # is 1-800-3-conair.

Q:  The Mohawk shaving brush made in Canada is great. Is it still made and if so, where could I get one?

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Q: I have a razor made by Wade & Putcher, Sheffield, LLd . On the large end there is a inward curve, the handle seems to be black Ebony. Does anyone know anything about this razor?

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Q: Is there any consensus on the best available double edged blade to use in older safety razors (Gillette style)? I have heard of Merzur but am not sure where it is on the quality scale.

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Q: Has anybody out there ever successfully use a Rolls Razor? I have one from an antique shop and I can't get it to shave at all. I have sharpened it according to the directions. I am a woodworker who knows how to sharpen and edge but I guess I will have to try to sharpen this one by hand, rather than with the automatic honer/stropper in the case.

A: See the answer to a similar question below:

Q: Does anyone with experience using the Rolls Razor? from the 1920's Is it better or worse than the currently available double traks?

A: The most important thing is the shaving angle, Blade as close to parallel to the face as possible so the guard is making a ripple for the blade to work against. As far as sharpening, make sure the sides are not reversed. They are designed not to be able to be, but things occasionally do get forced. The blade should work against the hone and with the strop. Make sure the strop isn't dried out. It took a bit of honing to get the blade I'm using into shape but it isn't difficult to maintain if you're very careful to dry and strop lightly after use.

Q: Where can I get replacement and/or repair parts for the old Rolls razors (circa 1927 onwards) with the built in strop/whetstone?

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Q: Do you know of any books on sharpening a straight razor? Haven't been able to locate anyone who knows how to sharpen rather dull razors. Thanks for whatever help you can provide.

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Q: My husband is a devotee of mug shaving. He has been using a mug that I originally bought as a gift. It is a BurmaShave mug. I recently purchased him an antique mug. This one is totally different from the original. It looks much like a teapot. There is a spout, an indentation on the top of the mug with several holes, and next to the mug handle, there is a depression.  I would love to know the correct way to use this mug. If you could help me, or lead me to someone who can, I would be very grateful.

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Q:  Has anyone seen a shaving mug & brush suitable for travel? I am thinking of a combination mug/brush that would somehow snap together, with the brush stored inside the mug. I hate carrying shaving cream in a pressurized can on an airplane.

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Q: I just purchased an old shaving strop at an estate sale. Its from Detroit Razor Strop YAK BRAND trademark 44-20. Does anyone know how to find out more about it?

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Q: Are there any home remedies to stop cuts from bleeding, besides a styptic pencil?

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Q: Some years ago there was a company named Franklin Toiletries that produced a line called Barbershop. I would like to know if the company still provides these products.

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Q: I'm looking for a talc preshave stick for electric razors (product once sold by Crabtree & Evelyn). Any suggestions?

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Q: Can anyone tell me how much a 1694 Wostenholm & Sons straight razor is worth or where I can find information?

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Q:  I am looking for an antique straight razor called C-Mon Cadillac manufactured by Peter J. Michels, Inc., in Germany. Any ideas as to where I could locate one would be greatly appreciated.

A: Contact  Hal Siegel / Therion Calgate http://www.therionarms.com  E-mail: 
therion@therionarms.com

Q: I am in search of information on the proper care of shaving brushes. Can you help?

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Q: (from Amanda Brown): We got a Twinplex stropper (a razor sharpener) for my grandparents. They really like antiques and stuff like that. We would like to give them the date it was made. We can't find it. It is designed to sharpen Gillette type razor blades. It's model G 200. It was made by (this is exactly what it says on the box) Twinplex Manufacturing Co., Chicago 13, Ill. I would appreciate any info.

A: (from Chuck Floyd): My Great Grandfather started this business, his name was George Floyd.  I believe Twinplex quit making the Strapper as it was called in the 60's. Twinplex still exists, but now is in the metal fabrication/drawn shells business.  My two brothers are the fourth generation to run the business.  They have in the lobby a nice collection of the strappers.  If you would like more information, contact Twinplex at  630-595-2040.  The company is located in Woodale IL.  Ask for Ken or Steve Floyd.

Q: What electric shaver is good for black men? And if you can tell me the brand and model. I want to get a close shave but avoid the razors bumps while doing it.

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Q: I'm interested in a product that will prolong the life of a razor blade, like Gillette's Mach 3. I read an ad about a product that one immerses a razor in to prevent oxidation of the blade. Does this really work and can you suggest where I can buy the product? Thanks for your help.

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Q: I am looking for statistics about when and where both men and women shave. Do all men shave after taking a shower, before a shower, during a shower? Same questions for women.

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Q: I have an Old Spice mug that was given as a gift in 1974 from my mother. It was recently broken, a large piece. approx. 1/4 of the side. I tried to repair it with Super Glue but it only lasted for a couple of months before the piece come off again. Can any tell me what the best product is to repair the mug... thanks !

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Q: I just started shaving with a straight razor after a few years with a safety razor, can I get as close a shave with a straight razor as with the mach 3 I was using?

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Q: I am looking for a styptic solution called *My Nik Is Sealed* It's a roll-on made by a company in upstate NY called CSI. Any ideas on how or where to find this product?

A: You can get this item from "The Vermont Country Store" catalog. It is item No. H1565. You get two applicators for $7.90. They work very well. Phone orders 1-802-362-8440. It can also be ordered from www.beautystop.com. and Beans Beauty.

Q: (From Ann) Could you tell me if you have ever heard of Wester Bros of Solingen Germany? I have a razor but can't find out anything about the manufacture.

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Q: I am new to collecting shaving mugs. I cannot seem to find any information about Seaforth shaving products. Can anyone direct me?

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Q: Is it true that shaving causes hair to grow back in more darkly and coarse? My husband and I have been squabbling about this for some time now. We would appreciate any help you might be able to provide in resolving this dispute.

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Q:  Anybody know where to get parts for a hot lather machine labeled, Campbell Morris-Flamingo?

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Q: Can anyone provide me the instruction for battery replacement of a Remington XLR-3000 shaver?

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Q: I would like any information regarding a spiro automatic stropper for Gillette type blades with patent number 165982/20 stamped on it, and manufactured by John Watts of Sheffield England. this was given to me by my late parents.

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Q: I have been experimenting with mug & brush shaving, using Williams shaving soap in a coffee mug and a boar's hair bristle brush I got at the local drugstore. I'm not sure I have the technique for whipping up a good lather down yet--it usually seems either dry or runny, and certainly it doesn't produce a LOT of lather, although it's enough to do the job. I just know I'm not doing it right. For the record, what is the "correct" technique (if there is such a thing) for using a mug, soap, and brush?

A: See our instructions on how to shave with a Mug, Soap, and Brush.

Q: For a long time I used regular bath soap (no mug or brush) and shampoo, off and on, to lather my face. Good or bad idea? Shampoo lather especially seems to produce a nice slippery surface and good results.

A: If it feels good, do it! The purpose of the soap is to moisten the beard and reduce irritation. This good idea seems to be working well for you.

Q: I recently got an old straight razor on eBay, which measures 3/8" wide. Is this size usable for regular shaving?

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Q: (from Bart Grossman) I recently acquired what I think is called a skuttle mug; an English shaving mug made by Ward with a picture of a 1908 Rolls on it. I have had and used shaving mugs before but this one has a closed top which doesn't seem to fit normal size shaving soap disks. can you tell me what sort of soap is used and where I might obtain it? Thanks very much.

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Q: I bought a British straight razor made for traveling in Hong Kong during the 60's. I believe it was called a Rolls Razor.  It was in a silver case and had a stone on one side and strap on the other side, so you could sharpen and be ready to shave and had a little safety bar on the straight blade.  Very compact and great to use. except the guys on the ship didn't care for the sharpening and using the strap early in the morning.  Misplace mine and wanted to know if they are still available.  Thanks A retired Marine in Texas.

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Q: Could you tell me where I might purchase Wilkenson double edge blades? I've written to CAMB Machine Knives but have had no response. Thank you.

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Q: I will soon be opening a very unique and upscale barber shop.  We would like to offer straight razor shaves.  Our state government requires that we use disposable blades.  I cannot seem to locate good quality razors that have disposable blades.  If you could recommend one and where I could purchase them I would appreciate it greatly.  Thank you in advance. Cathy Leskie, cleskie@charter.net

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Q:. Can anyone recommend a barber's shop which still offers a traditional wet shave in the north London/Hertfordshire area of the UK?

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Q: Where can l purchase a cut throat razor in London or on-line in the UK?

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Q: During the 50's and 60's, I used a number of shaving products marketed under the name "Seaforth", all of which were made by the Alfred D. Mckelvey Co. of New York City and later of Minneapolis MN and Greenwich CT. Their most popular scent was called "Scotch Heather", a unique masculine fragrance that has not been duplicated since. For several years I have been trying to find out how the scent was created, but no success so far. I've bought some old Seaforth bottles from Ebay with contents intact, but over 40 or 50 years the scent had changed of course. Do you or any of your readers know what was in these products, or possibly have an idea as to how I might find out. The original company was bought by Chesebrough-Ponds in the 70's and finally sold to Matchabelli in the early 80's, which was the last time Seaforth was produced. Their customer service people seemed to know nothing when I contacted them. Any help would be sincerely appreciated. -- Dave

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Q: I recently found an old shaving brush and would like to find out something about it. It is marked "sterilized" and also says Made in N.Y.C. U.S.A. It also has a swastika on it. The swastika is flat, like a square, not upright with the points like a diamond like the German swastika. There are no other markings anywhere. The handle is wood and was probably turned in a lathe. I am not a collector of items like this so any help you can give me would be appreciated. Thank you Stan Ross mrmrschief@hotmail.com

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Q: A friend of mine has this unique shaving mug. I have never seen one like it. It has no writing on the bottom, but has an interesting window on the front. Can you help me identify it, or tell me what the window is for?

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Q: Where can I buy shaving soap with menthol or camphor? George, goodiesguy@earthlink,net

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