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Thread: Pre-War Gillette Aristocrat Review

  1. #1
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    Default Pre-War Gillette Aristocrat Review

    Who here uses one on occasion?

    The older I get the more I look backwards. I've sampled a few modern made double-edged razors, acquiring a couple and trying a few of my eldest son's acquisitions. The old Gillettes and Schick Kronas are more entertaining to me and shave every bit as well.

    The first twist-to-open Gillette razor was the Aristocrat as introduced in 1934. There were earlier three-piece Gillette designs called Aristocrat, but the 1934 incarnation represented a hugh step forward.

    This razor features the silo or butterfly doors which open as well as the open comb guard design used by Gillette since the beginning. Unlike a lot of bygone Gillette gold models which appear to have a flimsy gold wash which wear all too readily the Aristocrat features a heavy 24kt gold plating.

    Apparently the original pre-war twist-to-open Aristocrat was made in three variants, the differences being slight differences in the silo doors hinge design. I'm guessing my example is the last variant produced and probably dates to 1938-1940.

    It's the razor I consider to be my "daily driver." Realistically, I alternate with the Aristocrat and selections of other Gillette models kept in rotation, shaving with the Aristocrat for a week then with another Gillette model for a week. That way I can play the field and keep my hand in on shaving with the oldie razors.

    I collected all the Gillette designs from 1904 to when they stopped selling double-edged razors in the US in 1988. All the designs are on hand with some in gold,nickel, or rhodium plate, along with wartime expedient razors having aluminum handles or even plastic. Of the lot of them, I prefer the style, the looks, and the shave characteristics of the pre-war Aristocrat best.

    It's a good lookin' razor with its bulldog style handle with the barber pole look and eye-poppin' gold plating. I picked up my example in an antique shop while traveling in northern Arkansas in 2011 for something like $35. The plating goes the distance too as the razor looks fundamentally the same now as it did when I acquired it.

    All razors receive the same cleaning and care after their week of use; a spritz of Scrubbing Bubbles, a scrub with a worn soft bristle toothbrush, a thorough rinse in cold water, a dab dry with a terry cloth hand towel before being replaced in the cabinet where the collection is stowed. All three-piece razors are not screwed tightly together and the twist-to-open models aren't tightly twisted closed for storage.

    The pre-war open comb Aristocrat is at its best loaded up with a Feather blade and using a lather of C. O. Bigelow, which I have read is the same as Poraso. A close shave is easy with the Aristocrat. It's not a highly aggressive razor, but cannot be considered as a mild razor either. One can run amok using the Aristocrat with the Feather blades and end up with weepers that he never even felt happen. If one is attentive to blade angle he won't go amiss. I can't say it's the most comfortable razor I use, but it's perfectly acceptable in the comfort department.

    I hate the chore of shaving, truth be told and got into vintage double-edge shaving mostly to add a bit of whimsy and fun while banishing the mundane nature of the chore. With the pre-war Aristocrat, one can almost feel like Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, or Gary Cooper while he's shaving.

    Last edited by noelekal; 07-11-2022 at 10:45 PM.

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  3. #2
    I'm a social vegan. I avoid meet. JBHoren's Avatar
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    Nice work! Great write-up and accompanying photos! Thanks for sharing it/them with us.

    Smooth shaving!
    sharptonn, BobH and noelekal like this.
    You can have everything, and still not have enough.
    I'd give it all up, for just a little more.

  4. #3
    Razor Vulture sharptonn's Avatar
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    They seem to be legendary. I have one. Never used it. I think in a wooden box? I shall find it.
    JBHoren and RezDog like this.

  5. #4
    The Hurdy Gurdy Man thebigspendur's Avatar
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    I've gone the opposite direction. I have a number of vintage Gillette DEs (not the aristocrat) and I very much enjoy using them from time to time. I have found the modern razors with their precision machining in a variety of materials give a better shave plain and simple.
    No matter how many men you kill you can't kill your successor-Emperor Nero

  6. #5
    Skeptical Member Gasman's Avatar
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    Nov 2016
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    I used mine in a sotd pic recently.
    It's just Sharpening, right?

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