But can you shave with it?

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Slivovitz, Dec 18, 2011.

  1. Slivovitz

    Slivovitz Well-Known Member


    The object you see above the razor blades is a safety razor. Really. Not the quarter, the other object.

    Any normal safety razor is a compact item. Put it in a small travel bag, even your pocket; it takes up very little space. If you're flying, the TSA may have words with you about what you take on the plane, but that's another subject.

    People like gimmicks and gadgets, though. We can be carried away by clever devices that address apparent needs, even if a little extra thought would have called the need into question.

    What you see in the picture above is actually a double edged safety razor, one of the strangest designs for one ever contrived. It's the Bigelow Parkin, patented in 1921, and made until, well I haven't determined how long it was made until, but apparently not past the end of the 1920s. You see it here in its completely folded state. How do you even put a blade in this thing?


    Voila! There it is completely unfolded, with a blade inserted.

    And here it is ready to go.


    The head is actually a normal size. You hold it by pinching the two grips on the back with thumb and forefinger. You may have noticed that the head doesn't seem very tightly closed, but the pressure on those grips keeps it firmly shut when it's actually in use. Here's another shot showing what the business end looks like.


    Here it is closed again, but you can't see it.


    This sheath is actually designed for a Mini Leatherman tool, but fits the Bigelow Parkin perfectly. The razor originally came with a small leather case that served the same purpose. They also came in small presentation boxes which were a bit less compact. Folded, as in the first picture, the grips cover the blade well enough that you probably couldn't cut yourself, but if it came open in your pocket…well, it's better to have the sheath.

    But can you actually shave with this thing? I'd done it before, and to prepare for this article, I did it again, four days straight with this razor and a Gillette super thin blade. Yes, it really is a usable razor. On the with-the-grain pass, it's just another decent razor, doesn't really stand out, but gets the job done. It's fairly mild, actually, and I never cut myself, or got irritation. The unique way of holding it actually encourages a delicate touch, and gives more control than you might think. Against-the-grain was tricky at first, but seemed to be getting easier. I never got quite as close on the neck or behind the jaw as I'm used to, and the end results were just acceptable. If I used it for a month, or two months...but that isn't going to happen.

    The most compact razor ever made to use a normal sized blade. There were a couple of knockoffs which copied the design exactly, but I've never seen a smaller one. Does it fill an actual need? Probably not. An ordinary Altoids tin will hold your Merkur 1904 (or a Gillette New, or a Gillette Tech), a pack of blades, and maybe even enough cream in a small pill box to last you four to six shaves. There is a style of four piece razor that fits in an even smaller tin, so small that two of them can fit inside a single Altoids tin.

    But that's a story for another day.
    PLANofMAN, Bill_F, Tattoobob and 10 others like this.
  2. Williams Warrior

    Williams Warrior Well-Known Member

    Nice job. I've never really understood the whole travel razor thing, as all DE's and any other razor is quite a small piece of kit to not be much bother when preparing for a trip.
    Weishi Warrior and alpla444 like this.
  3. alpla444

    alpla444 That's sweet!

    Nice, unusual.
    Weishi Warrior likes this.
  4. fishcrow

    fishcrow Birdman of TSD

    Unusual indeed but I do not think I would attempt to shave with it.
  5. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Excellent article on a neat, little, razor!
  6. Regan

    Regan Well-Known Member

    That is pretty interesting, I would definitely give that thing a shot :). Very nice
  7. battle.munky

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

    Good write up on an interesting thingy! I would certainly try that sucker out.
  8. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    Insight to another cool aspect of the hobby.

    Great write-up!
  9. johnus

    johnus Well-Known Member

    Very interesting. It seems to be well made compared to the other folding razors that I've seen pictures of. Nice find!
  10. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Well done write-up! I sometimes wonder why it was Gillette felt the need to go so heavy into "travel" razors when (as WW notes) most of them, before one-piece Super Speeds, broke down small enough to take up next to no room in any bag, or even a pocket if you were so inclined. Sales gimmicks? Or was there an actual demand for razors that small? Maybe we'll never know...
  11. Bird Lives

    Bird Lives Future Root Beer King of Turkey

    Very Cool...Never saw anything like that before....I would certainly not hesitate to take one for a test drive...But I also see no real need...But then practicality doesn't seem to be a requirement or factor in my decision making process reguarding things I need or want....;)
    1921....What a concept...
  12. fatkid

    fatkid Well-Known Member

    After seeing it.....I want 1 :p
  13. SharpSpine

    SharpSpine Well-Known Member

    Very interesting razor. Thanks for sharing the information and pictures. How did you procure this oddity?
  14. Slivovitz

    Slivovitz Well-Known Member

    Just eBay. Cost me $17.50 including shipping. Searching completed auctions on these comes up with a baffling range of prices, with some people paying less than I did, and others paying so much I have to wonder about them.;)

    It's easy to imagine one of these in a tray of miscellaneous junk at a flea market. "I'll give you a dollar for that thingamajig." "Okay."
    Hanzo and Latherman87 like this.
  15. Leisureguy

    Leisureguy Read My Blog

    I actually had one of these and shaved with it for a while, then sold it to a soldier who really wanted a compact razor. It is a bit awkward to use, but OTOH it really lets you feel blade angle quite precisely. Indeed, I now suggest that new shavers hold their razor by the very tip of the handle as an instructional grip to see how little pressure is required, and to hold it by the head (thumb on one end, forefinger on the other) as an instructional grip to feel the blade angle.
  16. Phil

    Phil New Member

    Thanks a lot for the tip. I am new and trying those two holding methods out will most definitely help, can't wait to try it and feel how the razor is really working.
  17. IAmTheJody

    IAmTheJody Gillette-i Master

    Notice in the pics... Is that really Gillette Atra cartridge shaving instructions on the inside of a Singapore Gillette Super Thin DE-blade wrapper? :rofl:
  18. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Yes. I believe that it is the call Vector in that area of the world. That is part of Gillette's push to move the masses to inexpensive cartridges before working their way onto more expensive platforms.
  19. Rio Bravo

    Rio Bravo Well-Known Member

    Wow. What an excellent review. I have only just read this! I believe I have to wait 10 days until delivery. So excited. This is an excellent a very detailed review.
  20. Jayaruh

    Jayaruh The Cackalacky House Pet

    Supporting Vendor
    Also, an old thread I have never seen.
    Rio Bravo likes this.

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