Aristocrat, Sheraton, & Senator: Gillette's TTO Open Comb Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by PLANofMAN, Mar 25, 2016.

  1. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    The 1930's saw the last of Gillette's really innovative razor designs, something that would not occur again until the 1950's.

    We will focus on three American razors. The 1934-1939 Aristocrat, the 1937-1939 Sheraton, and the 1938-1939 Senator. These razors are unique among all of Gillette's American TTO (twist-to-open) razors. They are an open comb, rather than a bar design. Also, some of the last razors to use a hidden, rather than exposed center bar.

    There is some speculation as to why that design was changed, and I'll put forward some of the more common hypothesis. It enabled the head profile to be made lower, it allowed for less precise machining, or it solved blade alignment issues. Take your pick.

    Pictures! Everyone likes those. Here is an Aristocrat from 1934-1938. It is a Christmas edition model, due to the Gold plated case with Greek key border engraving. This particular one also came with the leather travel case, something rarely still seen with these models. This one sold for $200 on Etsy. Not to me unfortunately, as I considered it a bargin at that price, but didn't have the money. It will probably be flipped on eBay for twice that amount.

    All 1934-1939 Gillette Aristocrat razors have the spiral knurling. It's one of the features which sets it apart from the Sheraton and Senator razors. It also weighs a few grams more.
    The standard edition contained the same razor, but a different leather covered case.
    The Aristocrat had at least three different head styles, the 1934-1935 head (shown on the left) and the 1936-1939 head (on the right). I've also seen some U.S. Aristocrats with the Senator styled lifter assembly.
    At the time, this was Gillette's Premium flagship razor, and it was immensely popular, so popular in fact, that Gillette decided to make another one at a lower price point to make it more accessible to the general public. In typical Gillette fashion, they changed the handle and case and gave it a different name.

    Which brings us to the Sheraton. (I'll post up better pictures soon).[​IMG]
    The Sheraton was introduced in 1937 and is commonly accepted to have been in production until Christmas 1939, when it was replaced by the Gillette Regent (Tech) the following year. However, a search on Google books shows advertisements mentioning both the Sheraton and Senator well into 1941, so they may have been produced longer than is currently believed.

    There are three variations of the Gillette Sheraton, with the later variation being the more rare of the three. The 1937 Sheraton had the original Aristocrat head design, and from 1937-1939, had the second Aristocrat styled head. In late 1939, it was again changed, and used the Senator syle head design.

    The original 1937 Sheraton had a rivited lifter assembly. The Senator's and Sheraton's shaft is retained by a screw inside the handle. The Sheraton always uses a normal flathead type screw, making the razor slightly heavier than the Senator, which always uses a special type of security screw, with a Maltese cross shaped head.
    Toward the end of 1939 it was changed over to the new style lifter assembly but retained the shaft screw retainer and was made until sometime in 1940, when Gillette stopped manufacturing TTO open comb razors.

    All Gillette Sheratons have a gold wash (a gilded layer with a thickness of less than 0.2 micron), directly over brass, then coated with a layer of nitro-cellulose lacquer, unlike later model razors which had a more durable plating combination of nickel plate, followed by gold plating and lacquer.

    *NOTE: Do not use rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol on one of these early gold plated Gillette's. It will remove the lacquer...unless you are trying to remove the lacquer, then by all means, go for it!

    All Gillette Sheratons came with a spring hinged leatherette (marbelized top and faux shagreen on the bottom) travel case and a 5 pack of Gillette Blue blades.
    This photo is of a 1937-1938 Sheraton, evidenced by the rivited lifter assembly.

    The Gillette Senator was identical to the Sheraton, though it had the new, non-rivited lifter assembly right from the start of it's production in 1938.

    This model of razor was the cheapest of the three, but is more desirable than the Sheraton for whatever reason. It was only available in a nickel plated finish and cardboard box. It also came with a 5 pack of Gillette Blue blades.
    Last edited: May 24, 2016
  2. macaronus

    macaronus Sir Nice-a-Lot Staff Member

    Awesome read, Ryan! Thanks for posting! :happy088::happy088::happy088::happy088::happy088:
  3. Morman Bridge

    Morman Bridge Well-Known Member

    Great thread Plan of Man! Looking forward to more.
  4. Herm2502

    Herm2502 off to elf practice

    Great stuff! Those Aristocrats are really sweet looking razors. I like my Sheraton, a very smooth TTO. Keep the educational classes coming! Thanks!
  5. RaZorBurn123

    RaZorBurn123 waiting hardily...............

    Great read Ryan! I've been on the lookout for a Sheraton or Senator for some time.
  6. Jim99

    Jim99 Gold Water Shaver

    Great write up and wonderful info. I'm looking forward to part two.
  7. battle.munky

    battle.munky Has the menthol.munky on his back!

    Great write up Ryan. I had Sheraton that I traded to @PanChango about 5 years ago. I just didn't like shaving with it after a few shaves. I almost wish I would've kept it and gave it a 30 day focus but I'm super glad Dale wanted it and likes it, or at least he was, haven't seen him on in a while.
    Jayaruh, AGHisBBS, twhite and 2 others like this.
  8. Tdmsu

    Tdmsu Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the history lesson. I love learning about vintage razors.
  9. Jayaruh

    Jayaruh The Cackalacky House Pet

    Supporting Vendor
    Very interesting. I would love to have one of those OC TTOs.
  10. Number six

    Number six Well-Known Member

    I've got to take my Sheraton for a spin soon. Thanks for the post.
  11. AGHisBBS

    AGHisBBS Well-Known Member

    Very interesting, I now know more than I did before.
    PLANofMAN, Jayaruh and Robyflexx like this.
  12. dangermouse

    dangermouse Well-Known Member

    That's a great read. Thanks for such an informative and well written piece. Nice one.
    AGHisBBS and PLANofMAN like this.
  13. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
  14. Herm2502

    Herm2502 off to elf practice

    I wanted to add some more "eye candy" to the thread. My 1937 rhodium Sheraton. Not traditional, but I like it.
    brit, preidy, Douglas Carey and 7 others like this.
  15. TitanTTB

    TitanTTB Well-Known Member

    I have that Christmas edition model case with the 46-47 Aristocrat. Not sure if its a mismatch or if that case was offered later on as well.
    AGHisBBS and Jorvaljr like this.
  16. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    Pretty sure it's a mismatch.
    AGHisBBS likes this.
  17. Jorvaljr

    Jorvaljr Operation Daytona 8000

    How about pictures? We all like pictures .
    AGHisBBS and PLANofMAN like this.
  18. Jorvaljr

    Jorvaljr Operation Daytona 8000

    Well now it's a senator.. Lol ;)
    AGHisBBS likes this.
  19. 45auto

    45auto Well-Known Member

    Love that Aristocrat !
    AGHisBBS likes this.
  20. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Paperboy

    Article Team
    Not with the rivited ends, it's not. It is, however, gorgeous. If @Herm2502 was ever interested in a trade, I don't think I'd be able to turn that down.
    brit and AGHisBBS like this.

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