US Gillette Aristocrat TTO timeline

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by BBS, Apr 3, 2019.

  1. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    I've posted on this across many threads and figured it was time consolidate all this information into one thread.

    These posts will cover US made Gillette TTO (twist to open) razors only sold under the Aristocrat brand name, British or Brazilian varieties are outside the scope of this synopsis.
    Part 1 covering the 3pc Aristocrats made 1914 - 1922 covered here.

    The first TTO introduced by Gillette was the Aristocrat in 1934. From 1934 to 1940 they produced 3 variants of these as open combs in the US. The 3rd variant was available though not at retail level after 1940 still being sold to American Legion members as a special set through their emblem catalogs until 1942.

    From left to right the 3 variants produced from 1934 - 1940.

    Dates are approximate when they ended production of each.
    The first variant on the left was produced in 1934 and 1935 possibly as late as 1936. It is unique due to it's lower profile head than the rest of the variants.
    The second variant in the middle was produced in 1936 and 1937.
    The third and final open comb variant was produced between 1938 - 1940, the major change being the tabs standardized on all TTO razors in 1938 with the introduction of the Senator razor.

    Here is a picture showing how to tell the first from the second variant when you can't see the head profile difference. The key is to look at how the rivets affix the doors to the tabs.

    Here is a 2nd variant with the same tabs as a 1st variant so what we can say for sure is they changed the head profile before going to the more common style of tabs seen on the 2nd variants.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
  2. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    The next major change happens in 1941 with the introduction of a closed safety bar. This variant was produced in 1941 and possibly into 1942. From 1942 through 1945 production ceases on the Aristocrat product line in the US until WWII is over then continues with a new variant in 1946.

    This variant is distinguished by the fact the tabs do not have any end caps on them.

    My razor here, this one is missing it's plating on the handle.

    41arista.jpg 41aristb.jpg

    Here is a unique one stamping wise that I've not seen on later models, this may have been an early revision. Notice the trademark in the Gillette logo on the arrow and on the blade bank it says known the world over something you don't see on other Aristocrat sets. These pictures are from an ebay sale.

    41a.jpg 41b.jpg 41c.jpg 41d.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
  3. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Before we get to the next run of Aristocrats we need to cover a razor that was sold in both Aristocrat sets and Regent Tech sets and when it qualifies as each. In 1944 Gillette started production of an all metal 1pc razor in a set called a Regent Tech. These were produced into 1945 until around when WWII ended. Sometime during late 45 / early 46 they started putting end caps on these razors and sold them in Aristocrat sets instead. Same razors only difference is if it is missing end caps it belongs in a Regent Tech set, if it has end caps it belongs in an Aristocrat set. What also sets both razors apart from any other Aristocrat 1pc with a solid guard is they lack any patent information stamped on the razor base plate. See my later post on Regent Techs for more detailed pictures and information of both razors. My take is this was done to sell off excess razors before doing a new production run of what would become the razors in the 46 - 48 Aristocrat sets.

    h/t to @mr-razor for spotting this and bringing it to my attention

    Late 45 / Early 46 Aristocrat set - key feature is lack of patent information on the base plate along with end caps on the razor.
    1945 Aristocrat from Keith Anthony.jpg

    Next up are the variants produced between 1946 and 1950. What these all share in common is the Pat Nos on Package stamped on the head and end caps on the tabs. The 1946 - 1948 share the same handle style while the 1948 - 1950 have the newer handle style. Other differences are in the safety bars and center bars.

    Here are the next 4 variants from left to right produced between 1946 and 1950.

    Dates are approximate.

    First variant on the left was produced between 1946 and 1948.
    Second variant was produced in 1948
    Third variant was produced in 1948.
    Fourth variant on the right was produced from 1948 to 1950

    This picture shows the 1st and 2nd variants here. 1st on the left 2nd on the right.
    The major difference aesthetically between the 2 is the change on the safety guard going from curved to creased.

    This picture shows the 3rd and 4th variants. 3rd on the left 4th on the right.

    The first major change is the center bar being notched on the 3rd variant and then the handle being changed on the 4th.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
  4. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    The next variants were produced in 1950 and 1951. Production ceases in 1951 due to the Korean War and the Aristocrat product line is discontinued until 1961. The last variant here was sold actively in the US through 1952.

    The major change on these was the patent information stamp on the head was changed to Pat Nos On Pkg. In 1950 they made 2 versions, one without any date codes and one with the V 3 test code stamping. In 1951 they added date codes formally to all the razors. Far as I know they were only produced for 1 quarter in 1951 and all will have W 1 stamped on them. *edit* W 2 is now the last known dated coded razor to be produced.

    Here is what a 1950 V 3 date code looks like.
    v3a.jpg v3b.jpg

    Here is the same type of date code stamping on a 1950 Super Speed.

    Here is a 1951 W 1
    51arista.jpg 51aristb.jpg 51aristc.jpg

    Here is a 1951 W 2, this currently is the last known production year and quarter for this razor
    w2a.jpg w2b.jpg w2c.jpg

    To summarize from 1934 - 1951
    The razors all differ shave wise for the following variants.

    open combs
    1934 - 1935
    1936 - 1940 both variants are the same shave wise just aesthetically different

    closed safety bar
    1946 - 1948
    1948 no notched center bar variant
    1948 notched center bar variant with 2 smooth rings on handle
    1948 - 51
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  5. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    In 1961 the Aristocrat is reintroduced as an adjustable being the first Slim model on the market. These were produced from 1961 G 3 through 1967 M 3. This was the last US made Aristocrat sold in the US as an Aristocrat.

    Picture courtesy of @GlennConti and more information here at his web site
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  6. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    The very last instance of a US produced Gillette razor being sold as an Aristocrat was the Gold Super 109 Black Beauty being sold as the New Aristocrat in Japan in 1969 and 1970. After this the Aristocrat product line disappears for good.

    Here are pictures from an ebay sale of a 1969 date coded O 4 set.
    69na1.jpg 69na2.jpg 69na3.jpg

    Here are pictures from an ebay sale of a 1970 date coded P 1 set.
    70na1.jpg 70na2.jpg 70na3.jpg 70na4.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
  7. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Now for some razors that look like Aristocrats but were sold as different brand names.

    First the Regent Tech razors. These produced from December of 1944 through September of 1945 with production ceasing when WWII ended. They made 1 variant, without end caps on the tabs. The one with tabs is the same razor but was sold as an Aristocrat in late 45 / early 46. What distinguishes these visually besides the cases is the fact they have no patent information stamped on the heads.

    Here are the 2 variants, Regent Tech on the left, Aristocrat on the right

    Here is a top shot of both showing the lack of patent info on these.

    Here are the razors in each set
    1940 Regent Tech.JPG 1945 Aristocrat from Keith Anthony.jpg

    Either variant shaves the same and both are different shaves from any other Aristocrat.

    Here are some ads for the Regent Tech sets from 1944 and 1945.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
  8. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Next we have the Diplomat which introduced in 1953 as the successor to the Aristocrat and was sold from 1953 through 1957. The major change here aesthetically is in the handle which in the rings on the top and bottom are knurled unlike any of the Aristocrat handles.

    dipa.jpg dipb.jpg
  9. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Finally we have the Gillette President. This was a rhodium plated razor and was produced from 1953 through ??

    They made 2 variants one that has same handle style as the 48 through 51 Aristocrats and the other as the Diplomats.

    Pictures are from ebay sales.

    The first variant pictured here was produced in 1953 with date codes Y 1 and Y 2.

    Second variant here was produced from 1953 Y1 through - ??. I assume at least 1955 which is latest date coded example I've seen. They could have been produced possibly as late as 1957 which is last known date coded Diplomat I know of.

    This covers far as I know every US produced Gillette that could be mistaken for an American Aristocrat from 1934 up.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
  10. John Ruschmeyer

    John Ruschmeyer Well-Known Member

    Would the original Executive fall into the Aristocrat-like category?

    Sent from my iPhone using TappityTalk Pro
  11. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    No, it is not a razor you would mistake for an American Aristocrat. It could be mistaken for a British Aristocrat but that is outside the scope of this thread.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
  12. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Since @John Ruschmeyer brought it up here is the Gillette Executive, the non adjustable version. This and the President were the only 2 American rhodium plated TTO razors Gillette made that I am aware of. This razor was produced in 1949 and 1950. These do look like a British Aristocrat and I can see how someone could mistake one for an American Aristocrat if they didn't know anything about these razors the more I think about it. The 49 and 50 are identical shave wise and visually except for the patent info.

    Here is a 1949
    exec49a.jpg exec49b.jpg

    Here is a 1950
    exec50a.jpg exec50b.jpg
  13. brit

    brit in a box

    nice presentation and pics sir..
    Ijustmissedthe50s and PatrickA51 like this.
  14. PatrickA51

    PatrickA51 Well-Known Member

    Excellent review and photos. Thank you for taking the time to post this. :happy088: :thanks:
    brit likes this.
  15. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    To revise the timeline slightly, the Aristocrat was made at least as late as W 2 in 1951. Here is an example of one from an ebay sale. This unless I find an example to the contrary is the latest date coded Aristocrat that was made before the 1pc TTO was discontinued.

    w2a.jpg w2b.jpg w2c.jpg
    Ijustmissedthe50s and brit like this.
  16. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Here is an example of what the V 3 date code would look like if stamped on a 1950 Aristocrat. Even though this is from a 1950 Super Speed they both had the same type of date code stamp for this one production quarter.

  17. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    I am going to have to revise what I said about which variants are different, the 36 - 38 and 38 - 40 Aristocrats are the same razors sans the change from rivets to tabs which occurred on all TTO razors in 1938. I just got done doing a comparative shave with all 3 open combs using multiple blades and these 2 did not perform or shave any differently. Thread information will be edited accordingly.
    Ijustmissedthe50s and brit like this.
  18. Ijustmissedthe50s

    Ijustmissedthe50s The Warnee

    This thread came in surprisingly helpful today if I'm correct in identifying this pictured razor I picked up at a garage sale. It reads pat nos on pkg, there is no date code, and only the top ring is knurled. It's got some grunge on it, I haven't cleaned it at all. Functions perfectly. Safe to say it's a 1950 Aristocrat? That's dirt/dust covering letters. IMG_20190509_140153.jpg IMG_20190509_140109.jpg IMG_20190509_144822.jpg

    Attached Files:

    brit likes this.
  19. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    That is correct.
    brit and Ijustmissedthe50s like this.
  20. Ijustmissedthe50s

    Ijustmissedthe50s The Warnee

    Awesome...thanks for the response. Picked it up with a 70's Krona that's in super shape too...both razors for $5.00. Got some full Avon a/s bottles for a buck a piece, including one I don't remember called Blend 7, along with a Spicy, a Windjammer and the obligatory Wild Country and Tribute. I'm glad I stopped by that sale lol!
    brit likes this.

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