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Gillette Old Types


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The original Gillette safety razors was an open comb razor that had two guide pins on each side of the screw post. This was to accommodate the original Gillette blade design which had three holes in it. These razors had a curved base plate and a curved cap to match. The original razors had the handle attached to the base plate and a shaft that tightened a long stem screw cap. These were later called the Double Ring and the Single Ring to identify their traits of having two rings between the handle and the bottom of the base plate or one ring. Gillette never called these razors by that name.

One of the earliest three piece razors were what we know as the Pocket Editions. These were the open comb razors paired with a short handle and kept in a fancy metal box. The idea was for a gentleman to be able to keep his razor in his shirt pocket in order to touch up his shave during the day (or night). I guess he would be dry shaving since the case did not include a place for a brush or soap.

My latest herb garden rake set is a later model of this made in Canada:

I have an earlier set that was the one of the original Pocket Edition called the ABC Sets. Early on, Gillette had contracted with the American Button Company to make some very ornate razors. There were several different design of cases and handles:

P1030940.JPG P1030939.JPG

Gillette eventually did produce a three piece razor for the masses with a ball end handle, which I cannot show you at this time because it is on it's way to a secret location in the Netherlands. :wink


SU-Patron Gold
So now you wonder why I call this thread Gillette Old Type? It was because after a 20 year run of the original open comb razor head, Gillette decided to improve on it by making the base plate thicker, making the cap more domed, and a redesigned handle. They called this razor the New Improved which meant they now had to differentiate with the older razor, and so now the original razor was called the Old Type by almost everyone. the New Improved was really an improved old type. This will later get real confusing because the next open comb razor introduced by Gillette was the New which was newer than the New Improved.

Comparisons of the New Improved (gold and on the left) and the now know as Old Type:

P1030943.JPG P1030945.JPG P1030944.JPG

Note that the New Improved from my collection is part of a Cavalier set that somehow got separated from the set.. the regular New Improved did not have the fancy scroll work.


SU-Patron Gold
One interesting side note with the Gillette Old Type is that in the late 1920s, a company made an after market roller guard base plate for the Old Type. this company was called the Roller Guard Razor Co, which I guess was less confusing than Gillette using the New name. This company actually did make a clone of an Old Type razor but suing their base plate instead. However, their main business was to sell after market base plates to Gillette owners.
P1030949.JPG P1030948.JPG P1030950.JPG


Active Member
My Gillette Bulldog:

As you know, it is very rare to find a razor from 1917 in these conditions .. no bent teeth, no cracks in the handle, box,
original instructions and blades. Found years ago in France by an antique dealer.



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So first shave tonight with the Old Type WD.

First some background - on a US forum, someone decided one day to build a manual press device that would torque the head of a Gillette Old Type. I guess it was selected because the head was thin and had pins to align the blades instead of a bar and groove like the later New, which made things easier to torque. I found an OT head and had this person do one for me. @efsk just had one done also. Almost immediately, some folks at the US forum spoke out strongly that this person was doing "wanton destruction" to a razor that was such a classic and has not been in production for over 80 years. Never mind that the production run was over a 20 year period and Gillette made millions of these razors and more have been destroyed by folks throwing them away than this person modifying them to be slants. So I decided to designate this Old Type as the WD version.


This is a comparison of the WD version (left) and the regular Old Type (right).

Tonight I shaved with the WD and tomorrow I will shave with the regular OT.

First thing I noticed with my WTG pass is that there was still significant blade feel that the OT was famous for. Not quite as significant, but about 30% of the OT and so not quite smooth either. The BIG difference I noticed at the end of the WTG pass was that it was about 60% more efficient than the OT and so the slant conversion actually did what a slant razor does - achieves a smoother and more efficient shave. The ATG pass turned out to be just as efficient and I ended up with a two pass plus very minimal touch up BBS. I think now that if Gillette had done this to the Old Type instead of giving instructions on holding the razor head at an angle, maybe more folks in the US would have been interested in slants. This would also have allowed @efsk and myself to spend more of our money looking for vintage Gillette slants instead of waiting for someone to come around with a great idea of wantonly destroying razors. :daumenhoch


SU-Patron Gold
I apologize for posting an identical picture last night in my previous post. This is the pic I meant to post:


Tonight I shaved with the unslanted OT. I found this comparison surprising because the OT was smoother than I remembered it to be.

Immediately I found that the blade feel was about the same as the WD (if not a bit less). Of course I used a blade ready to be tossed in my WD last night and a blade that had only two shaves in my OT tonight. I did a WTG and ATG with the OT and found that there needed to be minimal touch up afterwards. It was slightly more than last night, but both nights I ended up with a two pass plus touch up BBS. I declare this comparison a tie.

Tomorrow, I will use the good blade in the slanted OT and compare the shave with my Valencia, a razor that the slant version of the OT was compared to when it was created.


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So tonight was my shave off between the OT slant and the Valencia. As I was taking pics of both razors side by side last night, I noticed something significant:

The OT-WD was torqued in the opposite direction.

Of course @efsk probably noticed this immediately since he bought a prototype Merkur right out from under my nose a while back. :nein1 But we are still friends. :bier1

So tonight the OT-WD took the blade of my Pocket Edition from last night with just a couple of shaves on it, and the Valencia took The blade that is about two shaves before tossing. The OT-WD took the left side of my face and the Valencia took the right side. Immediately with the WTG pass, I noticed that the blade feel of the OT-WD was still significant. More than the Pocket Edition, but not as much as the first night's shave. Similar to the first night's shave , the OT-WD was very efficient in the WTG and ATG passes. Blade feel was not as significant with the ATG pass. There was some dry touch up to do and some buffing, but overall, a two pass plus minimal touch up BBS.

The Valencia, using a blade almost ready to toss, was very smooth and had no blade feel. Efficiency was excellent and after the WTG and ATG passes, there was still some dry touch up, but not as much as the OT-WD. Tonight's winner is the Valencia! I would call it a draw except for the fact that the Valencia got a comparable shave using a duller blade. :disco1


SU-Patron Gold
So after shaving with the OT-WD for a while, I wondered what difference a Thick Cap would do to the shave. I found an OT Thick Cap and immediately sent it off to the
Wanton Destroyer of Old Type Razors. Today I got back my thick cap slant (OT-TC-WD).

The OT-TC-WD is on the left with the ball end handle, and the OT-WD is on the right with the Tech Fat Handle.

There is definitely a difference between the caps on each.

First shave tonight and immediately the Thick Cap felt smoother and not as much blade feel. In fact, there was no blade feel. WTG pass went extremely well, however at the end of it, there was still a layer of fine stubble left over. ATG pass managed to take are of most of the stubble, and because the razor was not as harsh, I could do things like buff or apply a little pressure. Like with the thin cap, I ended up with a two pass plus touch up BBS. :daumenhoch