Examples of razors - 1

Descriptions of razors

Ken writes :
The terminology used is that of the Sheffield razor trade. The last Sheffield razor grinder was a personal friend until he died, aged 89. William (Bill) Hukin passed on much knowledge of the trade and its language.

Another source of information is Gordon Ragg, the last member of the family firm of J & W Ragg, razor and scissor manufacturers. He is 92 years old (in 2006) and passes on much information from his old firm's record books, going back to the early 19th century.
He said that it was only after c.1900 that razors were given a size by width, eg. 3/8", 1/2", 5/8" etc. This seems to have been when the drop stamping of blades came in. Previously, hand forged blades were sized by the distance between the DOT HOLE and the POINT. (The DOT HOLE is where the PIN goes through the BLADE to attach it to the SCALES forming the HANDLE). The sizes were usually about 4 1/2" and no width being specified.

Statements - the price lists used the trade for paying workmen - were also used as a source of information. These can be as early as c.1804.

Example One - made by James Hall and Son

Razor made by Hall
razor with scales made from a single piece of wood, by James Hall, c.1835

BLADE - MARK - struck with James Hall and Son. The 'E' has parts of the character missing and suggests much use.
BLADE - wide, full edge, straight back
BACK - quill
POINT - round
SHOULDER - single
THUMB HOLLOW - straight with diamond
TANG HOLLOW - short, thick

GRINDING - BLADE - common hollow (reground)
TANG - glazed
TANG END - glazed

HANDLE - possibly a fruit wood, slit to take the blade. Almost certainly original and most unusual. It looks 'right'. Dished iron RIVETS and iron PIN.

DATE - Hall was listed in directories 1825-1835; damaged mark punch suggests 1835.

Example two - made by John Pearce

razor made by John Pearce
razor made by John Pearce, c.1830s

BLADE - MARK - struck Pearce Silver Steel
BLADE - full edge, hollow back
BACK - quill
POINT - hollow
SHOULDER - single
THUMB HOLLOW - hollow, straight
TANG HOLLOW - short, thick

GRINDING - BLADE - common hollow, glazed
TANG - glazed
TANG END - glazed

HANDLE - SCALES of clear horn, spotted, with brass latten crown pressed into mark side scale. Rounded HEAD and TANG END. Brass rose pattern RIVETS and brass PIN.

DATE - Directory entries 1817-1841. No earlier than 1824 - see Faraday's experiments on silver steel.

Example three - made by Green, Pickslay and Appleby

razor by Green, Pickslay and Appleby
razor by Green, Pickslay and Appleby, c.1825

BLADE - MARK - struck Green, Pickslay and Appleby
BLADE - full edge, hollow back
BACK - quill
POINT - hollow
SHOULDER - long cut
THUMB HOLLOW - straight with diamond
TANG HOLLOW - short, thick

GRINDING - BLADE - glazed
TANG - glazed
TANG END - glazed

HANDLE - SCALES of black buffalo. Square HEAD and spire TANG END. Iron RIVETS and brass PINS.

DATE - c1825.

COMMENTS - These makers made razors from silver steel and marked them as such, but this one isn't. Other razormakers used silver steel. Messrs Rhodes of The Wicker, Sheffield, wrote a booklet on razors in 1824 having experimented with silver steel. Note that Pearce was using this metal for his razors. The instigator of this metal was Faraday in London, who got Sanderson of West Street, Sheffield to make samples of silver steel on his behalf and no doubt sold the steel to other razormakers.