UK Wilkinson: Newer vs. Older

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by Straight Arrow, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. Straight Arrow

    Straight Arrow Active Member

    This test will compare the "older" NOS Wilkinsons against the "newer" NOS Wilkinsons.

    Last summer I was fortunate to acquire a small stash of unopened NOS UK Wilkinson blades from the 1970s. My brother showed up on my front porch with a bag full, fresh from the church tag sale. Needless to say I was ecstatic. I have tried a few of these blades and they are very, very good at what they do. Sharp, smooth, long lasting. Just the perfect blade in my opinion. Here is a picture of them:

    I recently posted a question over at SMF, asking how the older NOS Wilks pictured above compare with the newer NOS Wilks that are no longer being produced but still available from certain sources like Here is a picture of the newer NOS blades:

    A reader of that post kindly offered to send me a few of the newer NOS Wilks to test against my older NOS Wilks. I am now prepared to make a side by side comparison of the two cutters and report my findings in this thread. Here is what I propose to do. In an effort to put some amount of control into this experiment I will use one razor, one brush, and one lather throughout the test. The razor is a '53 SuperSpeed, a venerable tool that many wetshavers agree represents one of Gillette's finest moments. For the brush I will use a Gimbels Pure Badger, a very nice brush that is probably a re-branded Rooney. Here is a picture:

    For the lather I have decided on Palmolive Lather Shaving Cream. I know many of you are holding your noses and clicking to another thread by now. But I like the smell of Palmolive Red and I think it is a high quality product.

    I should note that I have a very average beard in terms of thickness of growth and coarseness of hairs. I don't have any wild or difficult growth patterns and never suffer with ingrown hairs.

    I will shave with the newer NOS blade on day one. I always shave before my shower, starting with a three minute hot towel application (one minute, reheat, second minute, reheat, third minute). I will then proceed to build the lather directly to my face. After lathering I will complete my standard everyday shave--two passes (WTG & XTG) followed by touch up. Not BBS, never intended to be. I will end the shave with a cold water rinse and a splash of Old Spice.

    On day two I will switch to the older NOS Wilk and repeat everything else as described above. On days three and four I will repeat the same thing with both blades.

    On days five and six I will attempt BBS (or close to it) with each blade. I seldom go for extremely close shaves preferring to leave them to the guys who really like them. When I do go for close I have found that it is most achievable on shave #3 of most blades.

    Days seven and eight will see a return to the two pass shaves.

    After each shave I will make notations regarding the results. Upon completion of my experiment I will post a detailed description in this thread.

    By doing this test I hope to demonstrate which is the better performing blade. I am very pleased with the older NOS Wilks but I have only a limited supply (around 35 blades). If I can demonstrate that the newer NOS Wilks are just as good or better, than I will not hesitate to stock up on them while they are still available. I hope that the results of this test will prove beneficial to other readers of this forum.
  2. Scorpio

    Scorpio Big Hitter

    Nothing wrong with the Palmolive. It is a great cream. Looking forward to your findings.

  3. Bronco

    Bronco Mac Daddy

    You are a lucky man! The plan sounds great and should be a fair examination of both blades. We're looking forward to the results.
  4. Straight Arrow

    Straight Arrow Active Member

    Day one

    Shaved with the newer version. I was very surprised at how much this blade pulled. Sometimes slightly painful but always noticeable throughout the entire shave. I completed the two pass shave but it was not a comfortable or enjoyable experience. I opened up three tiny weepers, one on my cheek, one under my nose and one on my neck. For the most part I rarely nick myself so this had me puzzled. The blade provided a fairly decent end result but getting there was no fun. I was expecting this blade to be at least in the same league with the older UK Wilks that I love so much. I am suspecting that it may have been a dud blade. Given that possibility, I plan to switch out the blade and start this test all over again with a fresh one tomorrow morning.
  5. Racso_MS

    Racso_MS Enjoy Your Shave

    Buy these and you won't be disappointed:

    I paid $34.00 shipped an will buy more soon. some of the best blades I've ever used.

    They are great...

    And as always with blades, YMMV.

    Enjoy your shave... :D
  6. Hawkeye5

    Hawkeye5 Member

    Good old Palmolive red. Good choice, just a shame we can't purchase it anymore at the local drug stores.
    Red was the first shaving cream I used with a brush when I re-learned how to shave. Frankly for the price and availability it was and is a quite good shaving cream. I still have one full tube that I'm hording.
  7. Straight Arrow

    Straight Arrow Active Member

    First Shave -- Days #1 & #2

    Day #1 Saturday- Newer NOS

    The first of these blades I tried (see post above from Oct 26) was definitely a bum blade. It pulled and hurt throughout the shave. I changed it for a second blade of the same type and completed a much more comfortable shave after my usual three minute hot towel application. I could feel a moderate amount of pull but nothing approaching discomfort. The first pass (WTG) provided adequate reduction, better than average reduction in fact. There was no skipping on the chin area, just smooth even strokes, as much a tribute to the goodness of Palmolive Red as to the smoothness of this blade. After a warm water rinse and a second lather application, the second pass (XTG) was completed, ear to nose on both cheeks, diagonally towards the chin on both jaw lines, and side to center on the neck. Upper lip horizontally from philtrum outward. Chin from sides to middle. Some touch up on the jawline and under the chin and I was finished. Cold water rinse followed by a splash of Old Spice.

    No nicks, weepers, or irritation. A “close enough” serviceable shave. Actually much closer on the chin area than I am usually able to achieve in two passes.

    My overall impression of first pass with the newer NOS is favorable. The pull I felt may be the “first use” phenomenon and I am waiting to see if the blade comes into its own on shave two.

    Day #2 Sunday- Older NOS

    Following the same pre-shave prep and two-pass shave as I used on day one, the older NOS Wilkinson blade provided a very comfortable, smooth and enjoyable shave. This is a sharp blade, even after some 25 years of storage. It easily handled every area of my face with no irritation and only one tiny, I mean very tiny weeper. So small it barely qualified as a weeper at all. This blade is just a real pleasure.

    Comparison- I must say that after completing one shave with each of these blades, the newer NOS blade had a slight edge on closeness, but the older NOS blade was noticeably more comfortable and smooth.
  8. Bronco

    Bronco Mac Daddy

    Good information Rich, thanks for sharing.
  9. jbcohen

    jbcohen New Member

    if you like old stock blades, Country Joe's collectible stuff has tons of them. Seems that there has been a lot of blades from the early 1900s sitting around in some medicin cabinets and are being sold, beucase the the current generation doesn't wuite know what they got there.
  10. Straight Arrow

    Straight Arrow Active Member

    That is a very nice collection of blades at Country Joe's. Most of them are old carbon steel blades and probably unusable for shaving after all these years but they are really great for collectors. I enjoy using the NOS stainless blades such as the Wilkinsons and the Gillette Super Stainless or Platinum Plus. They retain their sharp edge for decades.
  11. Straight Arrow

    Straight Arrow Active Member

    Second Shave- Days #3 & #4

    Day #3- Monday- Newer NOS

    Much less pull with this blade on shave #2. Very smooth on cheeks. Not quite as smooth on the lower chin, it dragged a little. The shave was not quite as close as shave #1 with this blade. No nicks but some very mild irritation was noticeable after my face dried completely. This could be due to the overnight change in weather from damp and rainy to cooler and very dry, typically Northeast autumn weather. Might need a little moisturizer before I start out for work.

    Day #4- Tuesday- Older NOS

    Absolute shaving bliss. The second shave with this blade was just wonderful. There was absolutely no pulling, no discomfort. The blade glided effortlessly through every whisker on my face. Just two passes like all the previous shaves in this little test. A close, comfortable, superb shave. No cuts, nicks, weepers, or irritation.

    Comparison- While it did provide an acceptable shaving experience, the newer NOS Wilky’s performance was not what I expected on its second shave. I was anticipating a closer shave with no blade drag and that didn’t happen. In contrast, the older blade was everything I expected…smooth all the way through the shave, and as close as I wanted it to be in two passes. The edge definitely goes to the older Wilk in this round.
  12. Bronco

    Bronco Mac Daddy

    As so often with maufactured things, older sometimes is better. Thanks to your brother you've had an experience most of us will never have. :cool:
  13. Racso_MS

    Racso_MS Enjoy Your Shave

    IMHO ( In My Humble Opinion) Razor Blades are always a YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) issue and very few will agree on the best, worst, mildest, sharpest, or most aggressive razor. We only have opinions based on our personal preferences.

    I am always happy for the person who can find a razor blade they absolutely enjoy and find they can not do without, and that they can find a ready available supply. When someone says, "I love the Gillette Blades I buy at Wal-Mart", what a thrill it must be for them. Just think, a readily available, inexpensive razor blade you can get at any time. Good for them.

    I happen to really like the NOS UK made Wilkinsons I bought from Blademail ( in bulk. I also really like the Merkurs, but they aren't as cheap as some of the more readily available "acceptable" blades (Dorco, Sputnik, Israeli No Names, Derbys etc.).

    But for those of you who have found "your" blade and can get them, "Congratulations".

    And as always...

    Enjoy your shave... :D
  14. Straight Arrow

    Straight Arrow Active Member

    Third Shave- Days #5 & #6
    Going for BBS

    Day Five

    Newer NOS blade- Wednesday

    This morning’s shave was the third shave for this “newer” NOS Wilkinson blade. Time to attempt the BBS shave. After my regular pre-shave prep with a hot towel, I proceeded to tackle the assignment. I used three passes (WTG, XTG, ATG) plus some touch up on the jaw line, lower chin, and a few other spots needing cleanup. All three passes were comfortable enough but again, as I found with the two previous outings using this blade, there was a noticeable bit of pulling, but not enough to cause pain. The resulting shave was close, smooth, and almost BBS. I say “almost” because there were a few spots, mainly the area between the lower lip and chin, that revealed a small amount of stubble when rubbed against the grain with the fingertips. I purposely left those spots alone, knowing from experience that repeated strokes in that area would lead to problems. This blade is quite capable of delivering a BBS shave for me in three passes.

    Day Six

    Older NOS blade- Friday

    On Thursday I did a one pass shave with my injector so that by Friday morning I had my usual amount of morning stubble.

    Friday morning’s shave with the older NOS Wilkinson blade was performed exactly as I had done on Wednesday morning with the newer blade. The end result was very similar. A virtual BBS shave. Getting to the end was a pleasurable, comfy experience.

    Comparison-The only difference was in the comfort and smoothness of the blade. The older blade really delivers in that regard.
  15. jbcohen

    jbcohen New Member

    Hmm, going to take a look for some old stock blades.
  16. Racso_MS

    Racso_MS Enjoy Your Shave

    Hey Rich,

    Those NOS UK made Wilkinsons are great and apparently you find them to be the same...

    Good for us...

    Enjoy your shave... :D
  17. Straight Arrow

    Straight Arrow Active Member

    Just to clarify, both of the blades I am testing are NOS UK made Wilkinsons. There is an older version that is from the 1970s (pictured above in the package with the horsey picture) and the newer version that can still be purchased from or (also pictured above in the plain package). What I am finding is that both blades are very good. For me, the older version has the edge on smoothness and comfort, but I would use either blade without hesitation.
  18. Hawkeye5

    Hawkeye5 Member

    While I've not had the pleasure of trying the older (Charge of the Light Brigade?) blades. I have used just recently tried the newer Wilkinson blades that were received as throw-in during one or another trades.
    definite pull, exactly as described. Not going to be one of my go to blades. Perhaps someday I will have an opportunity to try the Light Brigade version, which is what I shall refer to them from now on.

    The Charge of the Light Brigade
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson


    Half a league, half a league,
    Half a league onward,
    All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
    "Forward, the Light Brigade!
    "Charge for the guns!" he said:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.


    "Forward, the Light Brigade!"
    Was there a man dismay'd?
    Not tho' the soldier knew
    Someone had blunder'd:
    Their's not to make reply,
    Their's not to reason why,
    Their's but to do and die:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.


    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon in front of them
    Volley'd and thunder'd;
    Storm'd at with shot and shell,
    Boldly they rode and well,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of Hell
    Rode the six hundred.


    Flash'd all their sabres bare,
    Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
    Sabring the gunners there,
    Charging an army, while
    All the world wonder'd:
    Plunged in the battery-smoke
    Right thro' the line they broke;
    Cossack and Russian
    Reel'd from the sabre stroke
    Shatter'd and sunder'd.
    Then they rode back, but not
    Not the six hundred.


    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon behind them
    Volley'd and thunder'd;
    Storm'd at with shot and shell,
    While horse and hero fell,
    They that had fought so well
    Came thro' the jaws of Death
    Back from the mouth of Hell,
    All that was left of them,
    Left of six hundred.


    When can their glory fade?
    O the wild charge they made!
    All the world wondered.
    Honor the charge they made,
    Honor the Light Brigade,
    Noble six hundred.
  19. Straight Arrow

    Straight Arrow Active Member

    Thanks for the post, John. I enjoyed reading that venerable old poem almost as much as I enjoy shaving with my Light Brigade blades.
  20. Straight Arrow

    Straight Arrow Active Member

    Final Words

    Fourth Shave- Days #7 & #8

    Day Seven

    Newer NOS blade- Monday

    Completed the fourth shave with the newer NOS Wilky. This was a two pass shave along with a little touch up on the jawline and lower chin. The blade still has life in it and was not unpleasant to use. I still think there is a bit of pull in this blade but not in an uncomfortable way. In each of my reports on this blade I have mentioned the tendency of this blade to pull. I would like to clarify that the pulling is very minimal and not at all painful. I reported it only as a point of comparison with the older NOS blade which does not pull at all. This newer blade is a quality product that I would not hesitate to use in the future.

    Day Eight

    Older NOS blade- Tuesday

    As in every other outing with this older NOS Wilky, the comfort and smoothness was undeniable even on shave #4. However, something very irregular occurred during the course of this two-pass shave. I very seldom nick myself while shaving except for the occasional tiny weeper. But as I was completing this shave I began to receive one nick followed by another and another until by the end of the shave I had several small nicks on various area of my face. I really can’t account for the reason this happened. The blade still felt smooth and comfortable, it just kept biting me as if it had a mind of its own. It’s quite possible that I became cocky and careless and was driving my sports car way too fast. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention to my technique, not respecting the blade. Maybe the blade just suddenly went south. Whatever the reason, I paid the price. In spite of the nicks the shave was more than serviceable.

    Final Comparison- This experiment was enjoyable for me and I hope it was interesting to read about for some of you. Both of the blades I tested are good blades. Either one could easily find its way into my permanent rotation. But for smoothness, sharpness, comfort, and closeness, the older NOS Wilkinson is the hands-down winner. It really is an amazing blade and I feel fortunate to have a modest supply on hand. I will certainly keep my eyes open for more of these blades that may be lurking in antique shops or thrift stores. If any readers are lucky enough to find some old Wilkys, I heartily recommend that you load them up and give them a try. As for the newer version? They can still be purchased at or and if you haven’t tried them yet you owe it to yourself to give them a whirl before they become unavailable.

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