A straight razor. Is it worth $200?

Discussion in 'Straight Razors' started by qhsdoitall, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. qhsdoitall

    qhsdoitall Wilbur

    Given that a razor is not some type of antique collectible or Damascus steel or something. What might make a straight razor be worth $200 versus $85. You can see where Dovo or Thiers-Issard or any other number of razor manufacturers have a wide price range of razors. Some things I can understand such as the the amount of etching or scales made out of better materials or blade size. Would you consider a $200 razor for an everyday shaver?
  2. SSLSTudio...

    SSLSTudio... Forum Debugger

    Well certainly steel type does the job of increasing the price like you say and Damascus from Japan aint cheap.

    Then you have custom scale design, like horn from extinct animals $$$ ( not sure if its always legal to work with such material ?) I know Robert Williams uses Horn its all legal comes with a certificate so that customs wont confiscate it.

    I have currently a razor being looked over by Bill which has a $120 just for the scale so yes the more exotic and custom you go the higher the $ bill.

    also some old razors who are in demand can bring quite some money think dubl duck satin edges or the more wanted Gold edge in mint condition can set you back $200 aswell they are good razors for the buck but also a large amount is collectibilty value. some razors are worth more with original scale because collectors want the original plastic scales but I mostly get my razors to be used not for collecting.

    There there are brand new custom design razors which can cost quite some who are made by Joe C, Bill , Maestro Livi , Robert Williams to name a few better known. but I will leave it to these people themselves to explain further since we have them onboard the forum.

    I think the better the steel holds an edge sharp for a long time the higher the razor costs .
  3. bearbeard

    bearbeard Right Guard

    I definately think that a hand made razor should be worth more than something a machine stamped out. I think that like with anything sometimes the name alone can raise the price. i.e: take an ordinary t-shirt and put gucci on the front and walla....$100 t-shirt. But if a razor really is a good quality razor I have no problem paying a bit more for quality. I do have a problem paying for just the name alone. I saw a dubl duck in an antique store here that had cracked scales and the blade was rusted and chiped. they wanted 65$ for it....No way!!!
  4. Spirit_of_76

    Spirit_of_76 Yardley Ninja

    When you ask this question are you referring to modern day production razors from the likes of TI and Dovo as well as currently extant craftsmen like Maestro Livi and Robert Williams? Or are you including vintage razors in your question as well?
    As far as vintage razors are concerned then I think that it should be obvious to anyone that ebay has played a huge part in the ridiculous price increase, and therefore I do not think that the current market value of many razors is a fair reflection of their worth in the real world. The hobby attracts so many new members each day that you have a great many people all going after the same item, this in conjunction with stupid, macho bidding tactics (those people who have to have the top bid all the way through the auction) and the fact that many people are relatively uninformed and we have the all too familiar prospect of razors going for many times what they are worth.
    The Dubl Duck Wonderedge is a prime example of this. Sure they are nice razors, but they are not worth the $300 - $500 people are paying for them at the moment. Even in their time, they were still only mass produced razors, they weren't a particularly rare high end item.
    There is an old post on Robert Williams website where one member asserts that you can get most decent razors (Sheffield, Solingen, Eskilituna, Little Valley etc) to shave within 90-95% of each other and I think this is a fair comment. Sure those final 5-10% razors are special but you should be able to get a decent shave from a good razor in reasonable condition. I think that the skill of the honer is more important in most cases (providing that you're not using Chinese/ Pakistani junk razors.)
    The big money brands like DD, Henckels and Puma are usually consistent performers and I wouldn't part with any of my Pumas or my WE but at the same time I have many relatively unknown or nameless razors that shave as well and in some cases much better.
    Many people are lucky enough to pick up exceptional razors in lots for very little for example Joel's Chronik or Robert William's Kovall, further proof that you do not need to go anywhere near $200 for a great shaver.
    As far as modern production razors go you're pretty much spot on about the prices across the range for Dovo's and TI. The steel, scale material, etching and grind etc all affect the price. TI's Silver Steel and Dovo's stainless and Swedish steels are there top of the range and cost more than models using other types. Hollow grinding is more difficult and costs more and rare scale materials and etching/ spinework all increase price .
    Once again, I don't think that you need to go over $200 to find a good razor. Dovo Stainless models come in at under $200 and shave nicely. Whereas a a less fancy TI Best Sheffield Silver Steel represents pretty good value.
    As far as the more expensive razors go you are paying for the collectability. Indeed someone from TI once confessed that their damascus model had more worth as a collectable than as a daily shaver. The Thiers Pierre razor is fantastic as a shaver, but the cost is down too its limited availability as much as its performance.
    Finally we come to the modern day handcrafted straights. With these razors you are guaranteed a great shaver, but you are paying for the craftsmanship and materials as well as the actual performance of the razor itself. You should take a look at the Josh's Christmas Present thread on SRP to see how much work goes in to a hand made razor (and damn is that a NICE razor:drool )
    The most expensive razors are the Zowada and Darrel Ralph razors. I don't have either of these yet but you have to take into account that Zowada makes his own Damascus from scratch and I think that the prices are fair. While a razor that costs near $1000 isn't going to shave 10 times better than a Dovo Special for example, the work that goes into it means that you get what you pay for.
    Also, be aware that increased demand has led to a significant decrease in the quality in both TI and Dovo razors, so soon a Chandler, Ellis, Harley, Livi, Ralph, Warner, Williams or Zowada may be your only choice for a quality razor. On top of this many of these razors are made by fellow straight razor users and forum members which is a plus in my book.
    As for my personal experience, I have Maestros and a TI damascus. I use them regularly so if I didn't have so many other razors then I could easily imagine a Maestro being my daily shaver. However, my Wostenholm Pipe Razor (20 GBP mint) and my Puma Gold (40 GBP mint) are my real favourites so whilst I enjoy my $200+ razors I have others that cost much less which shave equally well. At the end of the day it all comes down to the golden tenet of wet shaving in general YMMV, personal choice people that's what it's all about.
    In conclusion, the more expensive razors cost what they cost for the individual craftsmanship as much as anything, if you want a work of art you are going to have to pay for it, but you can get great shavers for a fraction of the cost.
    Finally, for those looking for a fantastic shaver that won't break the bank you should consider an American made razor. Manufacturers like Case, Robeson, Keen Kutter, Kinfolks, Geneva/ Genco and Winchester don't attract the same prices as the more well known Solingen razors and shave at least as well, in many cases much better.
  5. Spirit_of_76

    Spirit_of_76 Yardley Ninja

    Amidst all of my waffling about the modern day manufacture of razors, there was one point I forgot to stress. a $1000 isn't going to compensate for a lack of technique when it comes to honing, stropping and using the razor. A whizz, bang damascus razor isn't going to make you into Lynn Abrams when you lay it on the hone. Whilst sh*t in, sh*t out applies to poorly made razors, a lack of technique can easily ruin the edge on even the best quality razors.
    Get a shave ready straight to begin with (I normally like to do the opposite of what conventional wisdom dictates but in this case starting with a shave ready razor is the best way forward.) That way you can see and feel what a shaving sharp edge is supposed to be like and then you have a goal to work towards.
    Practice the stropping motion on an ebay junker (or even a butter knife on an old belt just to learn the technique) and take it slowly when you start to strop your daily user.
  6. PalmettoB

    PalmettoB The Old Guard

    Well put, Alex!

    As I look over my collection, the names are pretty generic except for a Revisor and a Wostenholm Pipe Razor, and that was a cleaner-upper Ebay project that cost me $10. I don't think I have spent much more than $200 on all of my straights combined. I have ones from Kabeso (my "rustbucket"), Garantie, Kaufmann, Antelope, Shumate and an old Torrey I need to have restored (my grampa's razor).
  7. SSLSTudio...

    SSLSTudio... Forum Debugger

    Thats just BS big time cant believe the price tag do they have internet ? you should have forwarded them to Bill Ellis webpage what constitutes MINT.
  8. qhsdoitall

    qhsdoitall Wilbur

    Very informative Alex. Thank you. There are a lot of variables in determining the "worth" of a razor and that is why we have this forum and others like it. As the wet shaving movement progresses and more and more people get into it and start using or collecting, I'm afraid we will continue to see price escalations. I agree, proper materials and manufacturing are only small part of the equation. Honing and technique play a very huge part in shaving results. Case in point, I send my razors out to hone. I know better than to trust my honing skills to a razor that is going to shave my face until I get a lot more honing practice in done. :D That is what really cheap razors are for. Practice.
  9. Spirit_of_76

    Spirit_of_76 Yardley Ninja

    Whilst we're on the subject of the really high end custom razors has anyone tried a Darrel Ralph, Zowada or a Frank Warner yet?
    As I said in my original post in this thread I don't have any of them yet (yet being the operative word;) ) so I would like to hear from anyone who has tried them. Personally, I like the look of the Frank Warner razors the best but for some reason people seem to have dismissed them out of hand without even trying them:confused:
  10. Bill

    Bill Man of Steel

    I can't remember Warner's stuff. If it's the ones with the scales looking like carved wings, I like those myself. Tim is an excellent maker and Ralph makes some of the best benchmade knives around. With that said, I have 4 straights coming up on completion in the next month/+1/2.

    I will match the quality of any of the above and I'll venture to say mine will be less than half of what theirs go for. Ya just have to be patient with the old man, though. Retired guys slow down, don't ya know. The four currently on my bench will look like this one on my site, except for the scales. All four sets of scales will be different.

    I also have two Big Dippers in the mix and one similar to the one I made for Josh over at SRP. This one, however will be around a 10/8 instead of 12/8. I will probably be selling the normal razors for less than $400.
  11. Spirit_of_76

    Spirit_of_76 Yardley Ninja

    Hi Bill,
    Yes frank Warner is the guy with the bat wing type straights, as well as more conventional models. I understood the fact that many dismissed the bat wing types as not being the most practical of razors given their design, but they seemed to think his regular designs were unusable too. I think Leisureguy asled about them on SMF when they first came out and most people decided both types were impractical even though they had never tried them:confused:
    Whilst I have your attention on this thread is it ok to ask another question?
    1. Bill Coffey straights. I remember you selling a couple of these on SRP a while back. I have googled Bill Coffey but can't seem to find a website. So does he make straight razors regularly or were the two you were selling made especially for you? Would there be any chance of comissioning something like that in the future?
  12. xChris

    xChris Member

    Glad to see your stuff is coming back!

    Grat posts -- thorough. I'm right there with you -- yet -- I plan to get these makers' blades too.

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