We bet many of you don’t know Gillette safety razor date codes. Indeed, this thing requires lots of research. But don’t worry! We have done the task for you.
Knowing Gillette Safety Razor date codes is among the most often asked questions by our visitors and antique grooming accessory aficionados.
Indeed, we’ve received many comments sharing similar stories of them finding an aged Gillette DE razor among the final mementos of their beloved ones.
Thus, they want to know more about the discovered items and the era of those razors. Recognizing the date of the item gives you a clearer sight of background and proximity to your past-away family members who previously owned the razors.
So, if that’s also what you want to discover, today’s post is for you. We also include 3 different Gillette razor’s date coding systems according to their 3 most famous production sites in the past.
What Are Gillette Safety Razors?
King Camp Gillette first popularized safety razors (also known as double edge or DE razors) in the early 1920s.
As the name suggests, a safety razor is an apparatus for hair grooming with a protection mechanism located between the razor’s edges and the skin to minimize the risk of injuries.
Besides that, another reason why the double edge razors got their moniker is that people can shave the hair with both edges of the product simultaneously.
Before the implementation of safety razors, most males relied on barbers to deal with their beards and facial hairs, which usually cost a considerable amount of expense.
Thus, safety razors went viral as they enabled individuals, especially those on a tight budget, to enjoy a smoothly-shaved face whenever they wanted without paying a fortune.
Moreover, these tiny razors of the double edge shaver are replaceable at home, allowing everyday grooming to be even more convenient.
That’s also why the DE razor was the most used model of safety razors throughout and post WWI until cartridges and disposable razors came into the market in the 1970s.
Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes In The US
1903-1929 (serial numbers)
From 1904 to 1921, Gillette razors had numerical digits imprinted on them, so did the elite versions from 1921 to 1931, except 1927-1928.
In this period, Gillette mostly engraved the serial numbers on the upper surface of the guard or the inner sleeve portion of the handle.
It wasn’t until the middle of the year 1904 that numerical codes got implemented on the products, making an approximate 55,000 razors lacking them.
This coincides with the period when King Gillette himself got closely involved in the company, and perhaps it was at his demand. These dating digits were on the tip of the safety or occasionally even on the inside barrel.
On November 15, 1921, the first 1904 licenses expired.
In May, the New Improved Razor got released and owned a different product code. In addition to “Brownie” and similar kits, the company launched Old Types’ models without digit codes.
Another note is that from 1921 to 1923, the dating code prefix system didn’t include the “O” letter. Between 1931 and 1951, there were no date stamps on razors.
|Manufacturing Time||Serial Numbers||Razor lines|
|Old Types (1904-1929, such as Single Ring, Ball-End, and so forth.)|
|New Improved (1921-1929, such as Bostonian, Big Fellow, and other variants)|
1930-1949 (the date coding era)
It wasn’t until 1930, however, that Gillette ceased utilizing serial codes.
From the 1930s to 1949, the company decided to eliminate the old coding, making it tricky to determine the exact date of the razors.
So instead of serial numbers, a date code is marked on the products at this time.
According to this system, letters represent the year of production while the numbers indicate the quarter of production.
For example, A represents the year 1930, B is next year – 1931, and so on. Meanwhile, the numbers from 1 to 4 signify every ¼ of a year.
As a result, “A-1” represented the months of January to March in 1930.
As this dating strategy was reasonably easy to follow, it quickly became a widespread coding method in 1950, making people imprint the codes on all products at that time.
This means if you discover an old razor with its original edges, you could quickly utilize the date codes to estimate the razor’s era.
However, it is not always the truth because the blades might not be authentic, or people might get a replacement razor manufactured after or before the razor.
1950-1988 (letter codes)
In the 1950-1988 period, the manufacturer decided to incorporate letter codes onto each product.
Gillette imprinted a two-part date code onto your razor.
The initial part is an alphabetical letter that correlates to the year of manufacturing, as shown in the table below. Meanwhile, the latter part is a digit.
These numbers represent the three-month manufacturing period. In detail:
- 1 is the time from January to March.
- 2 is from April to June.
- 3 is from July to September.
- 4 is from October to December.
For example, V-3 (the first razor date coded) stands for the third quarter of 1950.
|1950||V||3 Piece Tech
|40s Style Super Speed
|1951||W||Black Tip Super Speed
|1954||Z||Flare Tip Super Speed|
|1955||A||Blue Tip and Red Tip Super Speed
|1958||D||“Fat Boy” Adjustable|
|1961||G||“Slim” Adjustable||Lady Gillette|
|1966||L||Black Handle Super Speed||The Knack
|1968||N||Black Handle Super Adjustable|
Gillette DE Razor Codes In Canada
Old Types line’s serial numbers
In 1906-04, the Montreal facility initiated low-volume manufacturing of Gillette razors, which increased during 1907. Initial purchases included Pocket Edition collections, many of which are still available nowadays.
Throughout WWI, Canada manufactured the majority, if not all, of the razors sold in Europe.
Manufacturing codes on famous Canadian items are sporadic and often inconsistent.
It seems that they utilized digits solely at periods and “C” or “PC” as prefixes in other instances.
Later Old Types
After mid-1921, Gillette’s Boston, USA factory made the Old Type blades minus the numerical digits. In Canada, the Montreal facility most likely performed a similar act.
New Improved lines’ serial numbers
Gillette released their New Improved in mid-1921. In Canada, the Montreal factory resumed its date coding patterns from 1Z and most likely proceeded until the discontinuation of the New Improved models in 1929.
There are samples up to 96302Z, and codes below 100,000 are most likely from 1921 and 1922. After that, several versions, including Big Fellow and Tuckaway, appeared to come into mass production using the same date coding method.
Frankly, we can’t guess what the serial numbers would be like if Canadian manufacturing surpassed 999999Z.
Techs and TTOs lines
Commençant with V-1950, the Boston plant started utilizing a 25-letter coding in 1950, excluding Q.
Then, next to the letter coding was a digit indicator of 1, 2, 3, or 4 representing the quarter in a year in which people manufactured the products.
Although a few people claimed that they are not sure whether or not Gillette goods manufactured in Canada adopted a similar pattern, many believe they did.
Gillette Razor Codes In England
Leicester, England, was the site of Gillette’s first British plant, which opened in 1909.
Unfortunately, it appears that the factory stopped operating somewhere between 1914 and 1915, with Gillette having departed the property by 1916, as far as we can ascertain.
However, while it was still working, the firm had employed a variety of numerical code prefixes.
Now, it is doubtful that the facility’s output throughout these periods was sufficient to support dating usage in different razor models, similar to the way the Us factory did with A, B, C, etc.
Instead, data suggests that these segments were likely running concurrently.
However, the one most upvoted possibility, in this case, is that the company used these prefixes to represent the marketplace for which they intended to export the razors.
Thus, according to this theory, E stands for England, F for France, G for Germany, and so forth.
One different explanation is that Gillette operated numerous manufacturing sites with a unique prefix.
Meanwhile, a third hypothesis stated that E represents blades manufactured in England, F refers to those made in France, and H represents Germany.
But no matter what the case is, we cannot tell which theory is correct and why there are such differences in date coding those products.
That’s everything we’ve got for you today regarding Gillette safety razor date codes.
We know how amazing it feels to trace back to the era of these great razors – just like leaping back to the past! This information is also super valuable if you’re one of those who love to collect antique items.
We hope our article has made the date-identifying process easier for you. Good luck!
Tam O' Banter says
I have an Old Type which seems to be an anomaly. It clearly states Made in USA, but the only date code is “G”. Nothing else!
I have no idea when this was made.
William Shephard says
Any Idea what the R R code means on some super adjustables?
William Shephard says
Any Idea what the R R code means on some super adjustables?