*This is an ongoing research project, as is not by any means comprehensive, yet. I will continue to update and edit it, but I posted it, incomplete as it is, because of the historical signifigance of today's date.* 80 years ago, today, Gillette filed a new patent application for a razor that would change the way Gillette razors were made forever. Filed on August 9, 1938, it was a patent for a stamped baseplate design. Prior to this, all Gillette razor baseplates we're either machined or swaged, both of which were labor intensive processes. Gillette called the Stampleman safety razor design, the "Tech," and this design would continue to be produced through the present day. The current modern incarnation of this razor is the Gillette Sterling, sold in India. U.S. Patent 2,270,388 was granted for this razor on January 20th, 1942. The Tech became Gillette's lowest priced razor for the next 7 decades. Hotels, airlines and cruise lines even stocked them for guests. Some form of Tech razor was made by Gillette continuously through the end of 1979, (some even claim through 2008, but those reports are probably talking about tech style razors, not actual Gillette techs) though it is likely that razors produced in 1979 continued to be packaged and sold through the early 1980's. They were made from brass, steel, plastic, aluminum, zinc, copper and bakelite at various times over the years. *There is some confusion regarding the "1932 Canadian Tech." The 1932 on the baseplate refers to the patent filed in Canada in 1932 for the Gillette NEW, and the wording in the patent is broad enough to cover the Tech. Those razors, like their American counterparts, were not made until 1938. We are going to focus on American Techs first, and then visit the Canadian, French and British Techs in later edits. From left: Hybrid Tech (England), Flat bottom (England), Triangle slot (USA), Rectangular Slot (England), Rectangular slot (Canada), Late model rectangular slot (England), Open comb (England). Photo and description credit to Xillion from Badger & Blade. American "Early-War" Tech 1938-1945 Most people call these the "Pre-War Techs," a term I take issue with, since WWII started a year after the patent was filed, and a few months after they hit full production. What is really meant by Pre-War, is Pre-American-Participation-In-The-War...but that's a bit of a mouthful, isn't it? Much easier and more accurate to just call them "Early-War Techs." These are easily identified by triangular bar guard slots and a short bar configuration on the base plate, rather than the continuous bar introduced in 1945. They came in two handle styles, the Fat Handled Tech and the Ball End Tech. Despite the name, the Fat Handled Tech is the lighter of the two razors, since its handle is hollow. There is also an unusual handle varient with a black fat handle and gold plated neck. I've never seen them in anything but a standard Gillette Tech box. They are considered the most aggressive Tech, slightly more aggressive than the DE89. American Contract Tech 1938-1945 These techs were made from a variety of materials throughout the war years due to restrictions on metals that were considered "war materials." Early ones were solid brass ('38-'41), later model ones usually had plastic, bakelite, steel or red brass baseplates. The caps were made from red brass, plastic, bakelite, or zamak. While the plastic and bakelite caps are easily identifiable, brass and zamak are a little harder to tell apart if the plating is intact. Zamak top caps are thicker and give the coating a matte finish. Copper and aluminum top caps were also made as well. American Contract Tech Razors came with two handle types, plastic/bakelite and the standard ball end tech handle with fullers running the length of the handle. These handles come in brass (rare), zamak, aluminum and steel. There is also the possibility of full aluminum contract techs as well. Most of the war razors were black coated with a matte finish black, but the coating was thin and easily damaged, so it's very rare to find one with it's coating 100% intact. Early contract techs were sometimes gold plated, but this quickly went out of use due to war demands. Post war "contract" techs, made for the civilian population from surplus and leftover parts, are always gold plated. The most common combination of colors on contract techs is black painted top cap, gold plated baseplate, and black painted handle. If someone wants to recoat their contract tech, the most authentic looking and durable finish is Flat Black Moly Resin, which is a gun coating, sprayed on and baked like cerakote. There is some speculation that the plastic (except for the screw and threaded brass insert) razors were mostly issued to soldiers headed to the humid and wet Pacific Front, and the metal razors were issued to those headed to the East. Sailors, of course, were issued non-rust prone razors, which usually meant plastic. I personally have not seen any evidence that this speculation has merit, even if it does make perfect sense. All contract Techs had the same supply number, so the military obviously cared not a whit where a specific razor ended up, or what configuration said razor had. Contract Techs are slightly less aggressive than the Pre War Techs, and slightly more aggressive than the Post War Techs. Their perceived aggressiveness depends on their weight, which is all over the place, depending on what it was made from. From 1941-1945, Gillette only made razors for the Military. American Post War Tech. 1945-1979 The Post War Tech is best identified in one of two ways: By the addition of depressions in the baseplate that match the nubs on the corners of the baseplate; and second, shortly after the war ended, this tech's baseplate design was modified, making it stiffer, and allowing for a continuous slot design on the bar guard. No significant changes in the baseplate design was made after this. Cap design, however, did change. In 1964, all Techs switched to Zamak top caps. Any Tech with a date code of "I" or before should be brass, with the exception of the featherweight tech razor, which is 100% aluminum. Techs from the early 1950's through 1963 have an etched Gillette diamond logo on the cap. Earlier techs have no logo on the cap. The Security Tech, aka "Psycho" Tech. 1949/50-?? History: "The Gillette Security Razor Used in Institutions," The Gillette Blade -- March 1955 "In 1949 Gillette was approached by officials in the Army Headquarters in Washington D.C. relative to designing and manufacturing a razor that would hold a locked-in blade. Their research department developed several different models and finally came up with the current security razor, which more than met all the government specifications. The security razor has a hollow handle with a locking nut high inside and is opened and closed by a brass key which fits inside the handle. It is generally similar to the Tech $0.49 razor in appearance. The razor received immediate acceptance from the government and as the information spread, the distribution of the security razor was widened to include specialized institutions and more recently, prisons. Security razors are given to inmates under a careful check system and returned after use. An attendant keeps the key and changes blades as required. In following this procedure the chances of patients injuring either themselves, or others, is practically an impossibility. But more than this, it is an extremely important part, and one of the first steps towards the patient's rehabilitation, whereby he starts doing things for himself. Many thousands of man hours are saved yearly and used for other important hospital duties, due to hospital nurses and attendant being freed from the chore of shaving the psychiatric patients." Psycho Techs were sold 10 per package, with one "key." As a result, the razors are rare, and the original keys are even rarer. The best and most accurate reproduction key sold now is made by Razor Emporium. http://www.razoremporium.com/1940s-60s-gillette-psycho-tech-reproduction-key/ Other people and companies have made keys in various qualities, most of those have been one offs or limited runs. The most collectible of these are probably the few made by the late "Cooncat Bob." British Tech Razors The British took a slightly different approach to the Tech. Instead of immediately switching to the new baseplate, they continued to use the NEW short comb baseplate, but instead of cutting the teeth, they stamped out the Tech bar guard. The curious case of the "Open Comb Techs." I mean, really, by definition, a tech is a closed comb razor; but there is proof that Gillette made open comb techs...not right after they were introduced, but as late as 1960. Not just one time, either. They sold them under the Nacet name as well. I've seen at least four different variations, all made by the UK branch of Gillette. The below examples were made for the French market.