The official Gillette Rocket timeline

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by BBS, Sep 11, 2020.

  1. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    To preface the title of the thread.
    There is the way collectors define them which is any Gillette razor usually British that has a specific type of TTO knob. Then there is the way Gillette defined it as a type of set and not razor. This thread will focus on the official designation.
    If you want to know more on how they are unofficially designated see this thread for more information.

    The term Rocket actually sources from Canadian Gillette sets and not British either. In the case of Canadian Rockets it denotes a various styles of cases and razors and for British Rockets on a single style of case with various razors. The Canadian Rocket sets were sold as either Rockets with a nickel plated razor or a Deluxe set with a gold plated razor and were sold between 1949 - 1956. The British Rockets sets were numbered as N054 and sold between 1953 and 1958, they were also sold again in 1962 as a No54a set.

    Now on to the actual razors packaged with the sets. Some quick trivia, The only razor going by Gillette's naming scheme that is a Rocket and only a Rocket if you want to use the set name interchangably with razors is the Canadian Super Speed styled razor sold in sets from 1950 - 56. That razor is wholy unique to a Rocket set the rest of the razors were packaged in other sets besides Rockets.

    Information may not be complete and is subject to revision.

    Each branch of Rocket sets, Canadian and British will be split off into their own seperate posts in this thread.
    Last edited: May 30, 2021
    Cearball, PLANofMAN and brit like this.
  2. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    First we will start with the Canadian Rockets which came in 3 styles of cases. I'll list the cases and types of razors known to have been sold in each Then I'll do the same for the British sets.

    First here is the Canadian trademarking filing.

    Date registered is March 11th 1949 and date first use is February 16th 1949.
    Information in the book is still copyrighted so it may not display correctly.

    Ad showing the earliest known date for these Rocket sets which is 1949.

    First is the cardboard boxes sold in 1949 and 1950. These only came with one style of razor.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    First style of razor was offered in 1949 - 1950 and was also sold as an Aristocrat Jr in England during the same time frame. The razor was only offered as in nickel plating in these sets. The key feature is the flat style base plate and notched center bar.

    Second style was offered in 1950 and was also sold as an Aristocrat Jr in England during the same time frame. The razor was offered in nickel plating. The key feature is the diamond stamped base plate and the base plate will say patent pending. If it has a patent number it is a 54/55 or later and puts it out of the production range.

    The next case style was the red styrene cases sold from 1950 - 1952 and with Christmas sets between 1952 - 1954. These came with only 1 style of razor and only in nickel plating.

    Father's day ad from 1952 showing this style of case still being sold.

    This razor was based upon an American Super Speed and sold from 1950 - 1952. This razor is the only one that is unique to Rocket sets and doesn't show up elsewhere. The key features that distinguish it from an American Super Speed is the lack of made in the USA stamped on the base plate and lacks any patent info stamped on the base plate. The ones offered with this case only came nickel plated.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The third style case was sold from 1952 - 1956. The regular sets came with a nickel plated razor and the Deluxe sets a gold plated version of the same. This style of case came with 1 style of razor.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Under side of the case will say made in Canada which is how to differentiate the case from the American made Super Speed cases.

    Ad from the Vancouver Sun Oct. 31st 1952

    Ad from last known production year of 1956

    1st and only style is based on an American Super Speed and was sold in this style of case in 1952 - 56. This razor is the only one that is unique to Rocket sets and doesn't show up elsewhere. The key features that distinguish it from an American Super Speed is the lack of made in the USA stamped on the base plate and lacks any patent info stamped on the base plate. The ones offered with this case came nickel plated or gold plated when offered in a Deluxe set.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    One final piece of information on the Canadian Rocket sets. The first instance of the American Super Speed being sold in Canada was 1955 as can be seen in ad below. You can tell they are American versions and not the British versions by the style of end caps. You can also see they are the flare tip versions which means the American 40s style Super Speed were never sold in Canada as a Super Speed period or along side the Rocket sets. Besides being distinctly stamped differently they also shave differently, the 40s Super Speed style Rocket razors are milder and shave similar to a black tip super speed. The 40s Super Speed styled Rockets are wholly and uniquely a Canadian Gillette razor and one most collectors have known little about.

    1955 Super Speed ad, full page ad as attachment.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
    PLANofMAN and brit like this.
  3. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Now onto the British sets. Both sets share the same style case which is unique to British Rocket sets.

    1st the No54 which was produced between 1953 - 1958. My research came up with these were only offered in brass and only nickel plated. The aluminum ones were offered in the No 52a anniversary sets along side the coronation sets in 1953 up until at least February and by September the no 52a sets had been discontinued and replaced the no 54 Rocket set. The razor in 1953 - 58 sets was also offered in other sets that were not Rockets during this time frame, most notably the No 59 sets. the 54 and 54a sets only came with 1 style of razor for each.
    The 1953 versions will have Patent Pending stamped on the base plate and 1954 and up versions Brit Pat 694 093.

    Some ads
    Here is an ad showing they were still selling the No52a Anniversary sets with an aluminum razor in 1953 along side the coronation sets.

    Here is the earliest instance I know of dated to Sept. 53 showing the no 54 Rocket set.

    Here is an ad from 1956 showing the No 54 Rocket set and No 59 set with the same razor but not billed as a Rocket.

    Here is the last year that I found the No 54 sets being sold which is 1958.

    Now for a No54 Rocket set. The razors in 1954/55 sets would have patent pending on the razor and the ones from 54/55 - 58 patent number 694093 on them. The I haven't confirmed but I am pretty sure these only came in nickel plating. Any gold plated ones with the patent information on them most likely were sold in a different set than the No 54.

    The second British Rocket was sold in 1962 as a No 54a or as a twin Christmas pack . The key features of the razor is the diamond stamped base plate, the base plate will be stamped with a patent number of 694093 and the TTO knob is the same style as German Parat versions of this razor. Normally the TTO knobs would be larger than the razor handle diameter the Parat style knobs are the same diameter as the handle. If it says patent pending it is the wrong razor from a production standpoint since those were produced from 51 - 54/55.

    As can be seen here the razor set was also offered in a Christmas twin pack in 1962.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2020
    joshsmith, PLANofMAN and brit like this.
  4. mr-razor

    mr-razor Well-Known Member

    Great job. Thanks for sharing it!
    brit likes this.
  5. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    First, I updated the description on the 54a sets to mention that the razors are the German Parat style versions because of the style of TTO knob.

    Second, some more info and rational why I included or not some razors with the Canadian sets.

    First here is about when they switched from the cardboard boxes to red styrene cases in 1950.

    Ad from March 1950 showing the old cardboard boxes
    1950oad.jpg The_Vancouver_Sun_Fri__Mar_24__1950_rs.jpg

    Ad from May 1950 showing the new red styrene travel case.
    1950nad.jpg The_Windsor_Star_Wed__May_31__1950_rs.jpg

    Somewhere between those 2 dates the switch happened also notice the new case ad clearly shows the Super Speed styled Rocket razor right at the very beginning. My take is the British Aristocrat Jr styled razors were never formally sold in those red styrene cases and only offered in the cardboard boxes. If any made it into those styrene cases it would be because they had leftover stock and no more boxes to put them in when they switched over.

    The other thing to consider is the price, they always right from the beginning until the razor set was discontinued priced the nickel plated razors at 1.29. If they offered a gold plated version prior to 1952 when they switched over to the blue styrene cases you'd see a mention of it somewhere in the ads. There is zero mention of any Deluxe sets or 1.59 priced sets prior 1952. Because of that I would say with a great deal of confidence no gold plated versions of any of the British Aristocrat Jr style razors were ever sold in Rocket sets period and no gold plated American Super Speed styled razors in the red styrene cases.
    cliffb599 and brit like this.
  6. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Here is an anomaly I missed. There is indeed a gold plated razor made 1954 or later because of the patent stamping that could have never been in a No52a Anniversary set. We do know the razor was sold in other sets along side the No54 Rocket set so the question becomes was this sold as a Rocket or in some other set along side the Rocket sets.

    1955 Rocket HD gold.JPG
    cliffb599 and brit like this.
  7. brit

    brit in a box

    remember ,the rocket cases state the razors were made in England.mine houses it's original flat plate rocket of 2nd gen crat jr design..
  8. Northstonehill

    Northstonehill Active Member

    Awesome thread! - Thanks for taking the time. Rockets deserve their own thread!!
    BBS, tonich and brit like this.
  9. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Yep and I do believe that was the original intention when the cases were first made. But as you can see in the earliest ads for the sets with those cases they show the Super Speed styled razors in the case not the British Aristocrat Jr razors. With that said they most likely put out sets with both style razors in that case for at least part of 1950 at a minimum. They also most likely sold some of the diamond indent base plate versions of the Aristocrat Jr in the Canadian Rocket sets and those for sure would have only been sold in the red styrene cases since they replaced the flat bottom base plate ones in 1950.
    brit likes this.
  10. brit

    brit in a box

  11. tonich

    tonich Well-Known Member

    Here is my recent purchase that I found in Calgary, Alberta - Canadian Rocket set (lower - nickel plated $1.25)


    razor: Aristo Jr - 2nd gen
    case: "Case made in USA" clearly indicates Canadian market
    blade bank: Made in Canada, blades R-4
    brit and BBS like this.
  12. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    That case I would opine is for a Canadian Super Speed set not a Rocket set since far as I know the Rocket cases in that style were always blue. Most likely
    candidate would be a red tip super speed razor which they started selling in Canada in 1955 as can be seen in the ad at the end of the first post of the thread.

    Regardless of all that it is a nice wild find. Congrats.
    brit likes this.
  13. brit

    brit in a box

    cool flat plate rocket/crat tip case..:)
  14. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Update on the red and blue styrene cases for the Canadian Rockets.

    Between 1952 and 1954 the Canadan Rocket sets were sold in both cases. The Regular Rocket aka the nickel plated razor was sold in the red case while the Deluxe Rocket sets aka the ones with gold plated razors were sold in the blue cases. Either sometime 54 or no later than 55 they dropped the red case completely and packaged both in the blue cases. That also means the Christmas sets during 52 - 54 were nickel plated razors because of the case packaged with them.

    53 ad - you can tell it 53 because of the Coronation sets also listed

    54 ad
    brit likes this.
  15. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    We also have the curious case of this razor.


    Note concerning this razor it is possible they may have switched the razors back to British made Aristocrat Jr styled razor sometime after 52.

    We do know for sure it couldn't have been in a Canadian Rocket set prior to 52 since they never offered a Gold plated Deluxe razor until then. It also couldn't be 52 since we know with a 100% certainty those sets had the Super Speed styled Rocket so later 53 or later is the only possible candidate.

    No conclusive evidence either way.

    What we do know is the ad space always shows the Super Speed styled razors packaged in the blue cases but the ads from 54 - 56 use the same pictures as those originating in the 52 and 53 ads. If they used newer pictures we could say for sure it is whatever razor they used but they didn't. We also don't have any documented Super Speed styled razors with date codes past 52. X2 is the last one I've seen. If they made them past then we should see higher number dated coded razors like Y and Z date codes for example. Thus far no examples have surfaced. We also know they sold British Aristocrat sets during this time period and it possible this razor may have been sold as a yet as as known numbered set in Canada during 52 - 56 along side Rocket sets.​
    brit likes this.
  16. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    This opens up the possibility that this razor was not packaged in 1950 with the red styrene cases and they only used the flat bottom base plate versions but instead used them later from sometime in 53 upwards on Canadian Rocket sets.
    brit likes this.

Share This Page