The Brush: Basic Information Everyone Should Know

Discussion in 'The Brush' started by PLANofMAN, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Yet another update edit to the OP, regarding High Mountain hair source. Also added picture of badger pelt, with hair grade sources marked in.
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  2. Douglas Carey

    Douglas Carey Wildman

    Great job! Thanks... :happy096:
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  3. chrisf8657

    chrisf8657 Active Member

    It's nice to see that diagram of the pelt I was asking about in another thread here with some other great info. Thanks!

    Also, from this am I to assume that my Simpsons Commodore in Best is actually Silvertip?
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
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  4. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Silvertip is any hair from the neck or back of a badger that has grey/silver coloration at the tip.

    I believe that the difference between Simpson's "Best" and "Super" grades has more to do with the selection of the hairs. A "Super" knot will have had all but the most straight hairs removed. Otherwise, they most likely come from the same bundle of sorted hairs. More care may have been taken in ensuring a uniform appearance of the outer banding as well.

    Some of the price difference in the grades comes from the amount of time spent making the knot, not any perceived difference in hair quality.

    Edit: I've been doing a lot of research on knot making lately. Sorry for the information dump. :)
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  5. chrisf8657

    chrisf8657 Active Member

    Well if that's the case why is it visibly different between grades, at least Pure and Best?
  6. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Pure doesn't use silvertip. It uses a completely different grade of hair. It not only looks different, it feels different, stiffer and more scratchy.

    Edit: The Brits use a different grading system. Simpson's Pure Badger uses the hair marked in the diagram as "Best."

    The brushes below are all Silvertips. Variations in color are caused by the breed of badger, the badger's diet, weather conditions and health of the badger at the time the hair is harvested. Also, the location of the harvested hair.

    (Originally posted by ChiefBroom, owner of Dark Holler Design Works, maker of the Paladin brushes).
    First row:
    1) Rooney 2XL in 2-band, 2) Simpson Tulip 2 in 2-band, 3) M&F Blonde w/ natural horn handle, 4) Simpson Tulip 3 in Manchurian

    Second row:
    1) M&F "Chubby 1" in Finest but labeled "Blonde Badger", 2) Rooney Stubby 1/Style 1 Size 1 "hyrbrid" in Finest, 3) "Olde Apothecary Shop"-labeled Rooney Style 1 Size 2 in Finest, 4) Rooney Style 1 Size 2 in Finest w/ faux horn handle

    Third row:
    1) Semogue 2011 LE labeled "Finest", 2) Thater SRP 2011 LE in 2-band, 3) Simpson M7 in labeled "Super Badger" but came in a box marked "Manchurian" and is indistinguishable by me from my T3 in Manchurian, 4) Simpon Eshan

    The brushes in the middle row are made with Old Rooney Finest Hair. They would probably be called "Blonde Badger" nowadays. It's easy to forget that "Silvertip" is a fairly recent naming convention, as things go.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  7. chrisf8657

    chrisf8657 Active Member

    Its interesting how much of a color variation there is even all of these are supposed to be "Silvertip".
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  8. Douglas Carey

    Douglas Carey Wildman

    The operative word is supposed. :)
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  9. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    I have two "High Mountain" brushes. One has blonde tips, the other has white tips. Neither one is marketed as "High Mountain White" or "Manchurian" though one of them should be. (Edit: in fact, the New Forest High Mountain brush wasn't even marked as a high mountain brush per Fido's numbering system. 2001 technically means 20mm, two-band, first model).
    There is no "standard" brush manufactuers must adhere to. They can call their brushes whatever they want.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
  10. Primotenore

    Primotenore missed opera tunity

    Article Team
    Very nice work. Clearly presented, thank you.
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  11. Chief Broom

    Chief Broom New Member

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  12. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Updated the OP with the origin of the "Manchurian" brush description.
  13. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    According to Gary Young (grand nephew of Alexander Simpson, of Simpson's Brushes fame) there are only three types of badger grades. After reading his post, I am inclined to agree. I won't go back and change what I've written about the different grades, for the simple reason that brush manufacturers are not going to start going to start calling their grades "pure," "best" and "super." This is, however, an excellent and concise look at Simpson's hair grades, and thus worth including in this sticky.

    The following is written by Gary Young.

    I have been asked by Teiste to put together some information relating to Badger Hair Grades.

    Now I know that there are various grades of hair 'sold' these days so I have categorised into the 3 grades that I know and have worked with - Pure, Best & Super. These 3 grades should give you a good idea on the characteristics expected and should give you a good starting point to compare to the more 'exotic' grades available nowadays....

    Pure badger hair is the commonest grade of hair. Around about 60% of the hair obtainable from a single badger is graded as ‘Pure’.

    Location on Badger: Usually from the underbelly area.

    Normal Colour Range: Black to a Dark Brown/Tan, Dark Grey.

    Characteristics: Thick filament with less lateral flex than higher grade hair and less tapering along the filament.

    Face ‘Feel’: Scratchy/Scrubby – normally thought of as the best hair for exfoliating. Normally brushes made from Pure grade have low density knots (less hair per knot) but still have low flexibility due to the stiffness of the filaments.

    Soap or Cream?: Usually good for hard soaps due to the coarseness of the filament ends.

    Ageing characteristics: Pure hair tends to ‘bleach’ quicker than higher grade hair giving it a look more akin to a Boar after prolonged exposure to sunshine. The filament ends will soften over time but do tend to keep their scratchy feel – more so than Best grade.

    Best badger hair is a ‘mid-range’ hair grade. Around about 25% of the hair obtainable from a single badger is graded as ‘Best’.

    Location on Badger:Usually from the belly area.

    Normal Colour Range: Grey to Light Brown/Tan with more significant colour difference between bands.

    Characteristics: More tapering filaments than Pure grade with softer tips. Better lateral flex along the filament than Pure due to the tapering nature of the hair.

    Face ‘Feel’: Less scratchy than Pure grade but still has a scrubby feel. Mid to high density knots (mid level of hair per knot) with better flexibility than Pure due to the tapering filaments.

    Soap or Cream?: Good for both soap and cream. Due to the fact that it holds water better than Pure it is ideal for creams that require more water to create lather.

    Ageing characteristics: Tends to hold its colour better than Pure grade but the filament tips can grey more over time creating a look of a ‘two band’ brush.

    Super badger hair is a fine grade of badger hair. Around about 10% of the hair obtainable from a single badger is graded as ‘Super’.

    Location on Badger: Usually from the neck/mane area.

    Normal Colour Range: Dark Grey/Black central band with silver/white filament ends.

    Characteristics: Even finer tapered filaments than Best grade. Extremely pliable filaments – more lateral flex than Best grade.

    Face ‘Feel’: Soft feel to the face, no scratch, Can feel firmer than Best grade due to the high density knot (high level of hair per knot) that can be made because of the finer filaments. Can be described as a more ‘velvet’ feel than best.

    Soap or Cream?: Tends to be better suited to creams due to the lack of scratch on the filament ends, although densely packed knots can work well with soaps.

    Ageing Characteristics: Super grade tends to keep its look over Pure and Best. Colours tend not to fade as much as the lower grades. In some cases the tips can curl or ‘hook’ over time. This can be caused by the initial sterilising process that badger hair is put through by hair suppliers.

    [also] Hair from the back does get mixed in with some grades but in the past it always tended to be a bit too 'wispy' to make a decent knot.
    [and] I can't comment on any 'newer' 2 band style Best knots but in our days we used to use a method called 'collaring' to create the 2 band look.

    It is a bit difficult to describe this method of knot making without showing you but I will give it a go!

    We would form a Best knot using our standard method. We would then take a small piece of paper and fold it lengthways to create a neat edge. A small quantity of darker badger hair would be picked and laid onto the paper. Using the back of a comb we would even out the hair across the paper to create a single layer of dark hair. The paper would then be folded back in half and the hair tapped down so the base of the hair was all even. We would wrap this section of paper around the base of the standard Best knot, grasp the tips of the hair in the paper and then pull the paper away. An extra bind of twine would be tied around this 'collar'. Then using finger tips and thumb we would work the knot around on its base until the applied collar blended in with the shape of the standard knot. This would create the look of a two banded head.

    Hope this makes sense! It is easier to show rather than explain in writing.

    The following is from the owner of Vulfix, now Vulfix-Simpson.

    Gary is spot on with his hair grade descriptions, one point of order however would be the reference to 'collaring'.

    We actually use the terminology 'capping' but the principle and the formation of the knot remains the same.

    We still employ this practice on a few of our brushes, primarily the Vulfix lines.
  14. cubancigar2000

    cubancigar2000 Well-Known Member

    thx for posting this interesting article
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  15. Darkbulb

    Darkbulb Cookie Hoarder

    Some really good information here.
    Douglas Carey likes this.
  16. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    I really wish that the industry would practice 4 grades which would be Pure (including mixed), Best, Finest, and Super and be done with all the other nonsense grading scales.
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  17. Boojum1

    Boojum1 Valet Parking Available Here

    Great brush information. :happy069: Thanks for sharing.
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  18. Greg Becker

    Greg Becker Member

    Thanks for the treatise, and for updating with more information!
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  19. Gerry Canter

    Gerry Canter Member

    Wow! That's quite a tutorial. Well done.
    PLANofMAN likes this.
  20. jmaier

    jmaier Well-Known Member

    This has been such a helpful resource. I'm a few months into DE shaving and am still coming back to these posts for clarification when my head starts to spin from all of the products and terminology out there. Thanks for pulling this together, @PLANofMAN.
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