Evolution of the Merkur Progress

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by jmudrick, Mar 24, 2017.

  1. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    When I acquired a beautiful Hoffritz slant razor I ran into a complete brick wall in trying to determine its vintage due to the lack of serial numbers and paucity of reliable information online. Dovo, which owns Merkur, seems to have published nothing which would help the Merkur collector.

    Having now a acquired a lovely gold Progress I'm looking at that same brick wall and hoping for some help in knocking it down.

    Here's what I know:

    According to Dovo staff, the Progress was introduced in 1955. As can be seen from this 1956 catalog entry, the early Progress featured a plastic guard plate matching the cream plastic knob.


    I don't know how long this version was produced, or when distribution by Hoffritz may have begun. Here is a Hoffritz version spotted in the wild a few years ago.


    What I know is by 1978, and perhaps substantially earlier, the plastic guard plate was lost, while the rest of the design appears unchanged. This is the version I have. It weighs 81.5g


    According to Dovo, this version was produced through 1985, when "Germany" was replaced by "West Germany". The simple font was also changed.


    Prior to this time the instructions for the razor indicated "Made in West Germany" but not the razor itself. As a matter of related interest, it was also in 1985 that Merkur production of the Futur began.

    Presumably, following unification from 1990 the printing was again changed to say "Germany".

    Hoffritz ceased distribution of Merkur in 1992.

    The current version of the Progress, no longer available in gold or nickel, features another modified font, unpainted numbers, and a smaller Merkur logo now contained in a circle. [​IMG]

    The shaft within the handle is now all metal, replacing plastic at some point in the razor's evolution.

    Most recently, new molds were produced and minor cosmetic changes introduced to the alignment indicators.

    That my friend is all I've got. If anyone has a Progress of any vintage predating the current version I would love to see photos, and any help in filling in dating info would benefit all Progress collectors going forward.


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    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
    Michael_W, nav, ischiapp and 8 others like this.
  2. Herm2502

    Herm2502 off to elf practice

    Nice info. I love my long handle Progress, but it's not old.

    jmudrick likes this.
  3. DesertTime

    DesertTime Well-Known Member

    Nice writeup. The Progress is a fine razor. I used one for several years until I loaned it to my son and picked up a Futur.

    I didn't realize they made them for so long and they predated the Fatboy.
  4. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    And the Toggle.

    Not a completely original design, clear inspiration for the Progress came from the Apollo Mikron which preceded it by more than a decade.[​IMG]


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    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
    ischiapp likes this.
  5. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  6. Jorvaljr

    Jorvaljr Operation Daytona 8000

    Did you say the progress is no longer made?
  7. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    Nope, still in production AFAIK.

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  8. Jorvaljr

    Jorvaljr Operation Daytona 8000

    Oh ok. You stated it's no longer available in gold or nickel .. is the current version chrome?

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  9. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    That's my understanding.

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  10. riverrun

    riverrun Well-Known Member

    Merkur's 2016 brochure says it's 'chrome plated'
  11. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    I'm still on the lookout for one of those. :)
    Jorvaljr likes this.
  12. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    $600 for the one I saw sell.

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  13. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Which I why I don't have one.
    BigMark83, MR41 and jmudrick like this.
  14. Eeyore

    Eeyore Well-Known Member

    EFSK (probably not on this forum) is an expert on German slants. He might have some further details.
  15. MR41

    MR41 Well-Known Member

    I think we saw the same one. I was surprised to even see one. It'd be cool, but I could never pay that:)
    jmudrick likes this.
  16. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Here is a 800/810 model as shown in the advert in the first post.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
    ischiapp likes this.
  17. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Few other tidbits earlier ones the knobs are a more whitish ivory color while the later ones become more yellow in color. Earlier knobs have dots between the numbers, later ones have lines.

    Also on the knobs far as I know all the earlier ones had the dots and numbers painted red, later ones with lines and numbers came first painted in red then the lines and numbers were not colored at all.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
  18. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Another tidbit on how to tell apart the modern looking ones made from the molds used prior to 2016 and the ones made afterwards.

    The ones 2016 and prior use this triangle design on the base as the alignment mark for the cap.

    The ones post 2016 use a different triangle design.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
  19. gwsmallwood

    gwsmallwood Well-Known Member

    This is part of why I've kept my original Progress instead of investing in a Mergress. There's just something nostalgic about that plastic knob that I don't want to get rid of.
    Latherin’ Luddite and nav like this.
  20. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    For a razor produced as long as the Merkur Progress has been it gets very little fanfare. Frankly I can't think of any razor that has as long of a production run as the Progress. like the past 10 or so years most guys I would surmise cut their teeth on a Merkur razor when they first got into or back into DE shaving.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2021
    twhite likes this.

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