There’s a reason Gillette is still “the best a man can get” – they’re a solid company with more than a century of shavery under their belt. Even though they’ve moved on from the wet shaving and safety razor markets, those unique and iconic products still leave a big impression on even neophyte wet shavers. Because of that, there’s still a lot of buzz around Gillette double edge razors even today – there’s a huge market for old razors and DE razor blades on eBay and other shops, and the process of restoring them is a noted hobby for many.
To that end, we thought we’d give our two cents on these legendary double edge razors, and tell you why we think they’re still worth the money.
A Note on the Gillette Innovation
Gillette has been around long that it’s almost impossible not to know their name. But before it was a brand, it was the name of founder King C. Gillette. He was a hearty midwestern boy – born in Wisconsin and raised in Chicago – who grew up to have one thing on his mind: shaving? Heavens, no. Bottle caps – lots and lots of bottle caps! More precisely, it was the cork that was used to seal the bottle caps that young King was concerned with. He was a salesman for Crown Cork and Seal Company.
It might have been simple happenstance that King worked for Crown, but his kingdom wasn’t destined to be in the land of cork. While selling cork seals, King noticed that once the bottle cap, that used the cork seal he sold, was removed from the bottle, it was simply thrown away because there wasn’t use for it. He eventually came to realize that there was value in developing a disposable product that was easily and affordable replaced.
At the time, men had to go to the barber for a proper shave. Straight razors were relatively expensive at the time and needed daily maintenance and sharpening. In addition to the time and expense, shaving wasn’t easy; a barber who gave a close shave without drawing blood was considered an expert craftsman. Nobody really knows how creative genius works, but somehow Gillette recognized that the generic business model of producing an inexpensive, disposable product and applied it to the world of shaving.
I suspect that half of creative genius lies in endurance. The first year Gillette’s safety razors were on the market, he sold less than a hundred razors. My niece sells more boxes of Girl Scout cookies in a weekend than Gillette did that first year. Can you imagine spending over a year developing a product that will revolutionize male grooming forever, only to struggle for another year trying to get anyone to latch onto the idea? Luckily, Mr. Gillette had that endurance that leads to, or comes with, creative genius. He was able to stick it out through the hard times and came out on time. The next year, Gillette sold almost 100,000 razors; and clean-shaven gents everywhere thank him for it.
Although the company bears his name, Gillette didn’t revolutionize men’s shaving all by himself. He worked with business partners and machinists to improve – and revolutionize – everything from the razor’s handle, to the blades, and even the head of the razor in order to get a better shave.
From inception up through today, Gillette has been at the forefront of shaving innovation and design. The mid-20th century featured Gillette at the top of of its game, producing some of the most recognizable designs in double-edged razors. Included in these are razors like the Super Speed, which are affordable while still carrying the banner of quality of this classic company.
History/Benefits of Gillette DE Razors
For starters, people who invest in Gillette double edge razors want to find a concrete tie to history – the Gillette name has been around since 1903, and has been making disposable blades since then. One of the first safety razors was the Aristocrat, which innovated the now-appreciated ‘butterfly’ head – instead of detaching the head from the razor, you could just twist it open and change out the blade quickly and safely.
In the 40s, the Gillette Super Speed came along, which turned out to become a major trendsetter and cultural marker for the art of wet shaving. People still collect these old school razors today; they’re probably some of the most popular due to the nostalgia factor of their father or grandfather shaving with them probably decades after they’d first bought them.
The appeal of Gillette DE razors does not extend just to their sense of history and tradition, though; these things are seriously great at shaving. They seem to be able to stand up to all manner of punishment, and still provide a great sense of balance in the hand and give you a nice close shave. The craftsmanship for these wonderful razors is also something to appreciate – they look like old relics of antiquity, almost, and provide a bit of realness to your existing shave kit. While all manner of new safety razors come out every year trying to look like the old Gillette razors, you would actually know you have the real deal.
To be fair, the use of these ancient DE razors aren’t without their flaws either. Because they’ve been around so long, you might have to do a little extra digging to check on their condition, and even take a bit of time to restore them to their former glory. Furthermore, they’re just that much harder to find in the first place – you have to do some digging on your own to track them down, and even then you might not find the specific model you’re looking for. Basically, the search for Gillette double edge razors is much more involved and personal than just picking something off the Internet.
Who Would Buy Gillette Double Edge Razors?
As I said before, these kinds of razors are valued mostly by collectors – people who are just really into wet shaving, so they want to combine their love of a close shave with the obsessiveness and finicky nature of any other kind of collecting hobby. These guys are dedicated to learning the significance of model numbers, specific features and looks of different razors, and the like. These guys are absolutely committed to their love of old school safety razors, and for that I salute them – it’s a pretty cool hobby, and many people have built up awesome collections (one such collection is in the links below).
Also, you may just want to get a Gillette DE razor because you want something you know will work. Many of these newer fancy safety razors don’t have the decades of use and experience that these antique, vintage razors do, so it’s easy to see why you’d want to rely on something that you know will work. These guys really do mean business when it comes to shaving, and it shows in their products – you’d be hard pressed to get as good a shave from anything else besides a Gillette.
Thoughts To Leave You With
Before you go running out and scouring eBay for your next razor, be sure to do your research. There are effectively two different types of vintage razors: the real collector’s items that will cost you an arm and a leg, or the common (but still good) Gillette razors that won’t cost you more than a bus ticket. Razors like the Gillette Super Speed are like that, so be sure to look for something along those lines; this way, you get the benefit of experience, craftsmanship and antiquity, without having to pay collector prices for it.
All in all, there’s a lot to be said for Gillette DE razors in terms of their usefulness as an actual shaving tool, as well as their ability to connect you to the past. Using a vintage Gillette feels authentic, like you’re taking a step into the past. This is something that I think a lot of us keep in mind when we start our own wet shaving experiences, so I think it important to remember when deciding whether or not to invest in a Gillette.