On the hunt for an old straight razor? Just make sure a well-respected brand makes it. Here are the best vintage straight razor brands to place your trust in!
Owning a good straight-edge razor is a joy for many shavers. There’s nothing like gliding a sharp blade over the cheek and chin, so as the satisfaction you derive from mastering how to use the razor.
Many people want to up their game by searching for a vintage straight razor. It not only makes the shaving experience more luxurious and classy, but also satiates the desire of those who want to collect antiques.
If you’re interested in a well-crafted piece of vintage straight razor, here are the best vintage straight razor brands that have been highly sought-after over decades!
5 Best Vintage Straight Razor Brands
DOVO Solingen, or DOVO Steelware, or DOVO for brief, was established in 1906 by Carl Dorp Carl Arthur Voos. For over 100 years in the business, the brand has built an impeccable worldwide reputation in the wet shaving community.
Founded in Solingen, the German city renowned for cutlery worldwide, Dovo is a statement of quality and tradition in the shaving industry. Antique Dovo straight razors are made of at least 50% hand-crafted by experienced smiths.
Dovo mainly use Carbon Steel with the material number 1.2210, or also known as Silver Steel to make their sharp, durable blades.
The handles are also made of sustainably sourced materials, from olive wood, ebony to African cow horns. Thus, those interested in antique straight razors can get their hands on elegant razors without feeling guilty about sustainability issues.
To guarantee an elegant look and robust form, they are shaped manually and go through several sanding and polishing steps. Hence, it comes as no surprise when the handles are highly prized by many shavers for excellent grip, solid grip while shaving.
Despite many developments and innovations for over 100 years, the brand still continues to manufacture an assortment of vintage straight razors that have been highly-regarded for decades. Hence, it’s not difficult to get your hands on a well-made piece from this trust-worthy brand.
Since the birth of the Boker manufacturing plant in Solingen, Germany, in 1869, Boker has only focused on using the best materials in the making of their razors.
Their straight razor manufacturing was briefly ceased after World War II, and came back even stronger 100 years later with the new lineup set to revive the old, prestigious tradition. With 150 years in the straight razor industry, Boker has effortlessly become synonymous with top-quality vintage straight razor.
Yet, Boker is often referred to as the King of vintage straight razors, not only for their long-standing razor-making history but also for the fineness and craftsmanship of their products.
Boker vintage razors were manufactured to high standards. Especially, their products are made of high-grade Silver Steel which is known for exceptional edge retention, toughness, and elasticity. Also, each Boker straight razor goes through up to 170 production steps so it can bend on your thumbnail and quickly restore to its original shape once released.
They are, therefore, durable with comfortable handles. The reward is a smooth shave with minimal cuts and nicks, although the blades need some honing to get ready for action. Boker straight razors boast elegant, classic design to offer the best classic wet shaving experience for the users.
The manufacturer is still producing several kinds of vintage straight razors that contributed to their rise in popularity in the past. Thus, you won’t struggle to search for a Boker antique straight razor in the market.
Joseph Rodgers was established in 1724, in Sheffield, England, which is home to some of the best-quality shaving razors of the world. Even the words “Rujjus” or “Rojers” were developed as an expression of superb quality.
Their reputation is partly attributed to the modern approach in producing blades whose safety, durability, and aesthetics are unmatched by competitors.
Joseph Rodgers blades are constantly recognizable by its Tang stamp and the markings of “Her Majesty”, “His Majesty”, “Cutlery To Their Majesties”. These distinctive marks help the owner easily date the year in which their antique straight razors were made, and was considered as their signature design.
Unfortunately, the company was out of business in 1975, making their vintage straight razors become rare and highly sought-after by hunters, collectors, and those obsessed with antiques.
Joseph Rodgers is a great brand for those looking for initial experiences with straight razors since their razors are more budget-friendly than other brands on the list.
Thiers – Issard
Thiers-Issard from France was established by Pierre Thiers (1860-1929) in 1884 and was sold to Gilles Reynewaeter in 1985. One of the highlighted features of Thiers-Issard’s straight razors is the use of various exotic materials for the handles.
From ox bone, ivory, to prestigious wood sourced across the world, the brand gives a new breath of life to how a handle can take form. However, what takes their straight razors’ handle to the next level is the use of tortoise shell – the material associated with Kings and the nobles.
Their blades are 100% forged from 100% carbon steel C135, which guarantees exceptional sharpness for a clean, smooth shave. Thiers – Issard is still doing their business, so there won’t be any issue with purchasing a good vintage straight razor from the brand.
CW Dahlgren Fabriks AB
CW Dahlgren Fabriks AB was in the cutlery business from 1870 to 1914 in Eskilstuna, Sweden, and was taken over by Carl Gustav Blomqvist in 1915. CW Dahlgren Fabriks AB luxury straight razors are known for their lightweight and minimalistic design.
Despite a brief existence for just under half a decade, the brand has built some of the highly regarded straight razors of the world.
Their 1906 collection, in particular, included more than 40 precious knives that are still waiting to be discovered by collectors. Due to the limited production, collectors will be hard-pressed to own their antique straight razors.
Factors To Consider When Buying A Vintage Straight Razor
Type of blade
There are five common points of conventional straight razors:
The end of the toe looks like a sharp spike, and hence the name “spike.” Shaving with this type of blade requires extra caution as you’re more likely to nick yourself.
That said, the blade can approach hard-to-reach areas like under the ear lobe or under the nose with more ease, thanks to the smaller point.
- Barber’s Notch
This blade type is popular among shavers and collectors alike, thanks to its appearance. It features notch points with not-so-sharp edges for easy maneuver around the mustaches and nostrils.
- Round (Germany)
A round blade is the safest of all types. It’s the best choice for those who start with a straight razor. The round blade has no point at the toe, so the risk of nicks is minimal. However, the tradeoff is that you will struggle to trim a beard or goatee due to the rounded edge.
Spanish blades are the less edgy version of barber’s notch blades. They’re the collector’s favorite, thanks to the cleaner lines and stunning look.
French blades are highly sought-after because they offer an enjoyable shaving experience. The point at the toe helps you get to hard-to-reach spots and line your hair with less hassle. Meanwhile, the upper end is rounded, keeping the risk of nicks to a minimum.
Quality of the blade
It’s worth spending time inspecting the quality of the blade. After all, this part will come into direct contact with your skin.
For one thing, there should be no pitting, rust, chips near the cutting edge (at least 3mm away). Also, don’t be easy-going with even a small chip. It’s a hassle to grind it out, as you’ll also grind down the entire blade.
In addition, avoid blades with burning signs and major discoloration, which indicate they suffered from heat damage.
The common thing that all the listed brands share is that they only use high quality steel for the blade. In addition, their razors were so finely sharpened that they can easily bend when you apply pressure.
Size Of Blade
The size of the blade is its width (which is the distance from the back of the blade to the cutting edge) and comes in a fraction: 4/8, 5/8, 13/16. For instance, a 4/8 blade is half an inch wide, and a 5/8 blade is 0.625 inch wide.
So what size should you choose? It depends on your needs. A larger blade will cut through heavy beards with more ease, thanks to the weight and size. Meanwhile, a smaller width is safer to get to the hard-to-access spots.
The handle, better known as scale, can be made of different materials, from plastic, wood, acrylic, ivory, ebony, and even antler and gold.
If you get scales made of untreated wood, do not be fooled by their appealing appearance. Becasue if these scales come in contact with moisture or water, they can emit acids which is the worst nightmare of any metal.
In other words, you indirectly corrode your blade in no time.
Scales made of ivory, ebony, antler and gold are the best of all. Treated exotic wood handles are also great, although they require careful care and maintenance than other materials (you always need to keep them out of moisture).
Frequently Asked Questions
How to maintain a vintage straight razor?
Maintaining the blade is critical to preserve your straight razor:
- Clean and dry after every shave: to remove any lather residue and dead skin cells on it. Don’t forget to wipe it dry with a dry cloth after cleaning and notice to keep your scale dry to prevent it from reusty problems
- Strop the straight razor before every shave can extend its longevity. This maintenance task helps you get the much-needed sharpness for a smooth, close shave.
- Lubricate the blade after shaving with mineral oil to create layer protection against moisture and other harmful elements. Make sure that the blade is completely dry before lubricating.
Are straight razors the best razors?
Straight razors give you the classy and thrilling experience when guiding a sharp blade across your face. The shave closeness they offer is unparalleled but learning to use them is a real art. So, the answer depends on your references and how easy you can master a straight razor.
Is carbon better than stainless steel?
Stainless steel is the clear winner if you’re using a cartridge or safety razor. It maintains sharpness longer and is effortless to maintain. However, choosing between the two materials for a straight razor’s blade is quite a different story.
The straight razor’s blade does not pull hair like safety razors. Instead, they are pushed across the face, which means you want them to be fine and less coarse to protect your skin better.
Carbon steel makes for fine, sharp blades. It has dominated the industry for decades and is preferable to many big names like Boker and Dovo.
While carbon steel razors are easy to strop, they do not hold the edge as long as they are made of stainless steel. Besides, carbon steel is more susceptible to oxidation and rust and requires more care after use.
Stainless steel, on the other hand, contains chrome, which makes it more coarse. The material is more challenging to strop, but the extra elbow grease pays off since it can hold the edge for longer. Yet, a well-honed stainless steel blade does a fine job of shaving your hair.
Where to get vintage straight razors?
Gliding a well-honed steel blade across your face is exciting, but the hunt for a classic straight razor can be even more thrilling. Here are some places where you can get your hand at a hidden germ:
- Before heading out to search for a good antique straight razor, you should ask older family members whether they have kept a straight razor. If you’re lucky enough, you can be the next keeper of a cool razor and other accessories such as a brush or mug.
- Online auctions or online shaving forums are also a place to buy an old-time straight razor.
- Antique shops and flea markets offer a great chance of finding a well-made razor. It pays to build a good relationship with shop owners and stay in touch. They would be happy to lend you a helping hand for your search.
We hope our list of the best vintage straight razor brands has shed some light on your search. They all have a long history and solid fanbase, so you stand a higher chance of purchasing a good razor from any of them.
It’s worth checking the razor carefully for any signs of noticeable damage before making the decision!
See also: The Best Vintage Safety Razors Review
- 5 Best Vintage Straight Razor Brands
- Factors To Consider When Buying A Vintage Straight Razor
- Frequently Asked Questions