Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes: What Do They Mean?

Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes

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.

The model of a DE razor.
The model of a DE razor.

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.

King Gillette - the father of DE razors.
King Gillette – the father of DE razors.

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
1903 Double Ring

(1903-1906)

1904 1‑25424

25425-45424

Old Types (1904-1929, such as Single Ring, Ball-End, and so forth.)
1905 45425‑370424
1906 370425‑770424
1907 770425‑999999

A1‑A195424

1908 A195425‑A675857
1909 A675858‑A999999

B1‑B222220

1910 B222221‑B697600
1911 B697601‑B999999

C1‑C80508

1912 C80509‑C260238
1913 C260239‑C407806
1914 C407807‑C578360
1915 C578361‑C911806
1916 C911807‑C999999

D1‑D516474

1917 D516475‑D999999

E1‑E449207

Military Kits
1918 E449208‑E999999

F1‑F999999

G1‑G999999

H1‑H999999

J1‑J7344

1919 J7345‑J999999

K1‑K927216

1920 K927217‑K999999

M1‑M999999

N1‑N459887

1921 N459887‑N999999

P1‑P679777

1A‑863912A

New Improved (1921-1929, such as Bostonian, Big Fellow, and other variants) 
1922 863913A‑999999A

1B‑336676B

1923 336677B‑391575B
1924 391576B‑485927B
1925 485928B‑602049B
1926 602050B‑770070B
1927 770071B‑902611B
1928 1C‑94800C
1929 94801C‑241755C The NEW

(1929-1940)

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. 

The vintage razor set of Gillette in The New line. 
The vintage razor set of Gillette in The New line.

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.

Year Code Razor Lines
1950 V 3 Piece Tech

(1938-1979)

40s Style Super Speed

(1947-1954)

Aristocrat

(1941, 1946-1951)

Milord

(1941, 1946-1953)

1951 W Black Tip Super Speed

(1951-1952)

1952 X
1953 Y President
1954 Z Flare Tip Super Speed
1955 A Blue Tip and Red Tip Super Speed

(1955-1960)

1956 B
1957 C Toggle

(1957-1958, 1960)

1958 D “Fat Boy” Adjustable
1959 E
1960 F Toggle

(1957-1958, 1960)

195 Adjustable

(“bottom dial”)

1961 G “Slim” Adjustable Lady Gillette
1962 H
1963 I
1964 J
1965 K
1966 L Black Handle Super Speed The Knack

(1966-75)

1967 M
1968 N Black Handle Super Adjustable
1969 O
1970 P
1971 R
1972 S
1973 T
1974 U
1975 V
1976 W
1977 X
1978 Y
1979 Z
1980 A
1981 B
1982 C
1983 D
1984 E
1985 F
1986 G
1987 H
1988 I

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.

The Gillette building in Montreal, Canada.
The Gillette building in Montreal, Canada.

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.

Gillette shut down the operation of the Leicester factory in 1914-1915.
Gillette shut down the operation of the Leicester factory in 1914-1915.

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. 

Conclusion

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!

Lee

Provide the best shaving product reviews and shaving advices to the wetshaving community and friends.

One thought on “Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes: What Do They Mean?

  1. Hi Lee
    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.

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