Indeed, I have been working on and “Extended” Razor Buying Guide, This thread is the prelude to just such an article I had promised to publish earlier this year, but time and family concerns have slowed me down, but not to worry, it has not been forgotten. In fact, your post has gently reminded me of the urgency.
Incidentally, Bill Ellis wrote an excellent guide for buying razors on eBay. Though some things may have changed since it was first published (2006) it is still relevant today, and I believe everyone interested should give it a read first.
I have said this before in another thread but it deserves repeating…
There is lots of information on “brands” of razors to avoid (such as: Zeepk… Pakistani), and of course there is much more info of the brands of vintage and new razors suitable for purchase. However not much is said about the “condition” (flaws) of those vintage razors and the consequences (or problems) of buying in those conditions. Even less is said about how to recognize the different conditions of those recommended vintage razors…Why?...
It has a lot to do with the business of “selling vintage razors”. The razor buying public reacts to “the general consensus” on the forums.
If the general consensus were to say “stay away from razors with deeply smiling edge” then most new/would-be restorers would NEVER buy smiling razors and that would upset the "razor sales equilibrium".
Another example, it is a well known fact that there is a good percentage of vintage (and new) razors have warped blades… but if you have a look at the BST/Classifieds across the forums, does anyone ever say the blade he is selling was warped? (…and you’d think every one of them would be in a position to recognize a warped blade… right?... after all, the razors are shave ready right? and we all know a warp makes it somewhat difficult to properly hone the blade right?) But of course they WILL NOT tell you, if indeed it is warped.
Now I am not in any way suggesting a warped blade is useless, in fact, a few of my most beautiful and best shaving razors are indeed warped… it’s just that they require a little more effort to get them sharp and this can be frustrating for someone new to sharpening razors, but absolutely no issue for a veteran sharpener (though it would help if he knows the condition beforehand).
I am also not suggesting that everyone knows how to spot a warp even if they have it in hand (so don’t go slamming the poor antique seller who may indeed not know what you are talking about)… however someone selling a “shave ready” razor especially if they themselves restored and sharpened it, MUST KNOW of it is indeed warped.
Now with all that said (and disclaimers) some of the links in this thread are now dead, but all is not lost, I still have the original photos from the auctions, and I may include them in the final article (or find new ones).
Also bear in mind I simply pick those auctions at random, so if anyone has any hard feelings then… I will always welcome a “civilized” discussion.
Have a good one