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, a 5/8". It's obviously not in as good a condition as the piece sold by Cedric but it looks ok to me. Wade & Butcher is one of the best know brands, you're sure to find more info on them on the internet.
A well known vendor, a well known brand, a well known razor that is apparently in more than decent condition. As long as you stay below USD 100, this should be a solid investment.
That said, I personally find Wade & Butcher one of the most over hyped brands. The prices these razors typically fetch bear absolutely no relationship to their performance. Therefore, if you are looking for a razor with which to shave, I would strongly recommend looking elsewhere, not least because this is not a wedge.
Instead, I would look for a Rodger, a Sellers, or one of the many little known Solingen brands. Try searching SRP's Straight Razor Database first (it is in their Wiki). You can refine your search to wedge, and the result should give you a good idea what to start looking for.
The problem with wedges is that they are rare, and have a devout following. Also, they are typically rather old, which obviously adds to their rareness, but also makes them hard to find in good condition. While they are often recommended as the final solution for coarse beards, I personally do not subscribe to this at all. A well honed razor of any grind (with maybe the exception of extremely hollow grinds such as my ACME, and certain large Herders and Erns) will deliver a close and smooth shave.
Hhm, I'm not prepared to pay $100 for this, so I guess I'll be outbid. Right now, I have a small razor with a light grind, and a medium razor with a medium grind, and the latter does much much better with my beard. So I thought I'd try a wedge for comparison's sake. But I agree; I don't think the razor above is actually a wedge.
The joys of a real monitor instead of a smartphone screen. Check the 4th picture - the razor does not fit into the scales at all. Strange looking hone wear at the toe on top of that. I would certainly let that one pass.
It does certainly look to have been re-ground, though quite well, I think. As for over hyped, I'll admit to having fallen for that... I mean, who wouldn't want to shave with a razor with the word "butcher" in it, for cryin' out loud?
W&B's are good shavers, but vastly over-hyped. I've found that most old sheffield wedge razors are in general all top notch shavers when honed correctly. The ones that really get me are "The Celebrated" W&B's. I saw an unrestored 8/8 go for $400 last week.
I paid $60 for an old Wostenholm 10/8 chopper that restored beautifully and outshaves any W&B chopper I've used.
As far as the razor being reground - I don't think it is as you would have lost the etching in the blade had it been.
An interesting point. Anyone who has ever delved into the world of quality management knows that "quality" does not equal "good". The concept of quality in this context differs from that of its common usage. And it can result in severe misunderstandings. I believe that initially, W&B razors were regarded highly because their quality is quite consistent, ie you will be hard pressed to find one that has been treated well over the decades or centuries that is actually defective. The same can, however, be said of basically any mass produced razor, such as Dubl Ducks or Dovos.
The stark contrast are mass produced razors from India or Pakistan, such as the notorious Zeepk razors. Funnily enough, their quality is consistent, in that none of them are fit for shaving with. If you are looking for an affordable letter opener, they should be on top of your list though.
Now that we have established that quality does not mean "it will shave like a dream", let us come back to vintage razors for a moment. They were everyday household appliances. Like television sets. We own a few of these. There is a high powered LED one in the living room, a minuscule flat screen in the dining room, a really cheap one in the sports room. But there is one that completely stands out. It is an early 1990s
. Once in a while, German engineering meets timeless design, and this tv set is the result of such an occasion. It will stay with us for as long as possible, despite its obvious shortcomings in the area of technical features. Given that DE razors are to straight razors what LED tv sets are to our trusty old Loewe, the analogy should become obvious - the straight razors still in existence were mostly kept for nostalgic reasons, because their owners were averse to change, or because they were actually capable of out performing DEs despite the lack of hone progressions and arcane pastes and sprays.
Therefore, chances are that any well cared for razor will be good. And by any, I mean any. I have yet to find a vintage Solingen razor that disappoints. They vary in terms of balance, handling, and other subtleties. But they will remove facial hair, and they will do it well. I presume the same can be said of Swedish and English razors, but I have next to no experience with them, so I shall refrain from passing judgement on them.
Let us then assume that the idea of vintage razors having only marginal differences in quality (ie "they shave equally well") is actually true. Then why would a certain brand demand significantly higher prices than others? Because people associate consistent quality with first-class quality. W&B razors are readily available in almost any shape or form. There are some that are reasonable rare, such as the notorious so called meat choppers. Realistically, the latter are awkward to use, and I personally find them aesthetically displeasing. Yet still, once manhandled with buffers, and clad in more or less tastefully executed custom (or, more likely, costume) scales, they will demand prices of USD 250 upwards. Is there a relation between price and performance? Not that I have noticed.
If you take other hyped brands, similar effects can be noticed. Dubl Ducks? A dime a dozen. Run-of-the-mill export razors with dysfunctional scales. Nice to look at and idiot proof in terms of honing because of their hollow grind. If you know how to fix the scales, have hones and a buffer, this brand has a good potential to make you reasonably rich in a relatively short time. Filarmonica? Probably thousands of them in the market - and that is only the NOS ones. USD 400 for something in ice lolly scales? Ummmm, no.
The real problem is that almost any beginner will be looking for a simple solution to the complex problem of shaving. And that either means wading through endless threads full of fanboy drivel, or asking in a forum to be presented more of the same. I once wrote a side-by-side review of a rather unknown Solingen 8/8 and the fabled Filarmonica "Especial Para Barbas Duras", and heavy criticism ensued. I am an avid follower of a heuristic tool called comparison, or to quote the fabulous Billy Bragg from his song
: "What do they know of England who only England know?" Without comparison, all you can produce is an absolute judgement. Which is a contradiction in terms.
So... good shavers? Yes, many of those around. Outstanding ones? Not really, but still small groups of vocal people with a mental problem euphemistically referred to as RAD want you to believe there are. Buying recommendations? Stick to vintage blades of well known origins, and not much bad can happen - in general, and as long as no-one has mistreated these razors with power tools.
I do love the ode to reason that is your post, Robin. Well-nibbed. For me, the straight is a return to simplicity, and forking over too much money for a brand of razor sort of flies in the face of that. I think what I'll do is try to find if anyone on this forum would like to take some of my money and part with a not-too-fancy-yet-serviceable wedge they have laying around. -Adam
I guess I'm of the mindset is that if it shaves well, easy to maintain, and not prone to major irregularities, AND I can find such at low dollar, then it's a good deal. I've always been a fan of Soligen steel blades in knives and they have their charm all unto themselves. But, if one stumbles across a great deal that is not on the top of the list, who's to say it is not going to be a great shaver?