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Thread: Advice: the aesthetics of old steel?

  1. #1
    Shaving Monk CJBianco's Avatar
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    Default Advice: the aesthetics of old steel?

    I bought an old JRD Huggins straight razor last week, and I'm not sure if I'd rather leave the pits and patina or send the blade off for a full restore. I think the ugliness of the blade is charming in a historical sense, plus leaving it as-is requires no work or money spent. On the other hand, a full restore with new black horn scales and a shiny reground blade might look spectacular! (The pits are deep, so many would remain, of course.) I think the problem is that I'm having trouble imagining what the after pictures of a full restore might look like for this type of razor.

    Simple opinions or photos of similar restores are welcome.

    Oh, and for what it's worth, JRD Huggins was a flamboyant NY City barber in the late 1700s to early 1800s. He was also a poet, and wrote many barbering poems that also doubled as advertising. He called himself the Emperor of Barbers and was often written about in the newspapers of the day. Anyone who was anyone in or around Manhattan was seen spending their days lounging in his Broadway shop. He eventually published a collection of barbering and other poems in 1808 by the title Hugginiana. (It'll be my life's goal to find an original copy for my shave den.)

    Thanx,
    Christopher
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    Last edited by CJBianco; 02-06-2011 at 03:04 PM.

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    Master of insanity Scipio's Avatar
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    Lovely razor, though Im one who prefers stones and well, those stones....just awesome!

    The razor looks great the way it is. I wouldn't bother restoring it as the patina suit it. Loving those old style stacked pins. Looks like you've already given the scales a neatsfoot treatment and they've come out nicely. Maybe buff em up a little with some rogue, but other than that I wouldnt change a thing.

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    At this point in time... gssixgun's Avatar
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    You CANNOT lose the etch, period everything else is personal opinion, and cleanliness,,, I don't shave with rusty, pitted steel, some people have no problem with it... Myself if it is going to be used to shave it should be as clean as possible, if it is going to be a collector then oil it polish it and put it in a picture box...

    This is one of the oldest I have done myself, and yes it is special shaving with something 200 years old...

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    I have another oldy moldy that is going on the bench today, I will have pics up when it is done...

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    Damn hedgehog Sailor's Avatar
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    Congrats for the beautiful old razor.
    Of course it is up to you, but i wouldn't want to see that old beauty fully restored. I'd rather leave the patina and pitting. Just try to remove them from the cutting edge and hone it back to its former glory. That lady deserves to carry and show her old age proudly.
    'That is what i do. I drink and i know things'
    -Tyrion Lannister.

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    Shaving Monk CJBianco's Avatar
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    Scipio: Thanx, I love those stones too. =)

    gssixgun: I do plan to shave with this one. I gave it a quick honing, but the shave was rough. I honed it again last night, and I'll give it another try tomorrow morning. If my luck isn't better, I'll send it off and let someone else worry about honing it. On a side note, I remember selling an old Flower & Co / Warranted razor in 2010. I always wondered what happened to it. Who did the regrind on your Flower? (EDIT: You did.)

    Sailor: "That lady deserves to carry and show her old age proudly." I know, but I deserve a shiny 200 year old razor like Glen's! =)

  6. #6
    Senior Member Walt's Avatar
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    Nice razor. I believe that razors of this age should be kept as original as possible. I use 0000 steel wool and Maas to remove any accumulated dirt and crud, but still keep the patina of the steel. It is great to be able to use a tool that is 200 years old and still functions as it was intended.

    Regards - Walt




  7. #7
    Senior Member blabbermouth JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    I'm with Walt on keep it original. I also use a bit of 0000 wool and 'Break Free' to take off the surface grunge followed by the Maas, or an equivalent on a paper towel. On those stub tails that are on the cusp of the 17 to 1800s I like to leave the original scales/pins even if there are bug bites and chips. Of course if there is a crack at the pivot replacement is necessary. Great story Christopher. Interesting info you gathered on the history of that razor. All the more reason to leave it as close to original as possible. IMHO.
    Be careful how you treat people on your way up, you may meet them again on your way back down.

  8. #8
    Lookin like a crim baldy's Avatar
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    On one that old, I'd have to leave it as it is too, just a light clean.
    Thanks for the history, very interesting.
    Grant
    "I aint like that no more...my wife, she cured me of drinking and wickedness"
    Clint Eastwood as William Munny in Unforgiven

  9. #9
    Know thyself holli4pirating's Avatar
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    Here's another vote for 000 or 0000 steel wool and MAAS or the like. With stuff that old, I don't like to do anything more. Almost pains me to see something like that hit greaseless.
    MrZ likes this.

  10. #10
    This is not my actual head. HNSB's Avatar
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    It took 200 years to develop the character that it has. Consider mine another vote for light cleaning only.

    Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

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