Old Straight razor!

Casey13

Full Member
Sep 17, 2021
183
505
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Metal Detecting
Good evening everyone!!
I found this old straight razor handle while digging early last week. I first thought it was a comb handle lol. The blade had been long gone from being in the ground i guess or had broken off.One of the guys I work with mentioned I should put a blade on it. So I researched it a bit and found the same brand old blade that was for sale on ebay. I pinned the new blade on it on lunch today. I didn't do the best job on it but it works! Thanks for looking!!
 

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Upvote 28

callmez

Jr. Member
May 25, 2014
52
64
Knoxville, Tennessee
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Primary Interest:
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I have actively collected straight razors for 40 years, and I do not think that I have ever seen a straight razor with gutta percha handles. Horn, hard rubber, and celluloid are all common handle materials on straight razors -- all easily molded with designs, and often mislabeled as gutta percha (especially by Civil War relic dealers). This particular design (known as "Melba" by one of the companies that sold it) is most likely molded black celluloid in my opinion.
 

crashbandicoot

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Sep 27, 2020
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Dumas,AR
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Looks like a Gutta Percha handle. There are a handful of collectors of all things Gutta Percha as so many things were produced from it. Once a major industry during the innovations of the Victorian age. Stuff sure holds up well over time I have to say.
That,s a nice link tamrock,good info that I didn,t know! Thanks!:icon_thumleft:
 

callmez

Jr. Member
May 25, 2014
52
64
Knoxville, Tennessee
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Tesoro Vaquero
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
Seems I'm wrong about the material the handle is made of, based on what called has offered
Thanks Tamrock, we are all learning! There are definitely some gutta percha objects out there, just not many (any?) as razor handles. I have seen a few as knife handles, mid 1800s, but only a few.
 
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Casey13

Full Member
Sep 17, 2021
183
505
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Metal Detecting
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  • #25
I have actively collected straight razors for 40 years, and I do not think that I have ever seen a straight razor with gutta percha handles. Horn, hard rubber, and celluloid are all common handle materials on straight razors -- all easily molded with designs, and often mislabeled as gutta percha (especially by Civil War relic dealers). This particular design (known as "Melba" by one of the companies that sold it) is most likely molded black celluloid in my opinion.
Thank you callmez! It seemed like plastic to me. Do you know around about the age of it? I think the company was Americus but I can't find anything online about them.
 
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Casey13

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Sep 17, 2021
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Looks like a Gutta Percha handle. There are a handful of collectors of all things Gutta Percha as so many things were produced from it. Once a major industry during the innovations of the Victorian age. Stuff sure holds up well over time I have to say.
Thank you for this information!
 

callmez

Jr. Member
May 25, 2014
52
64
Knoxville, Tennessee
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Tesoro Vaquero
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
Thank you callmez! It seemed like plastic to me. Do you know around about the age of it? I think the company was Americus but I can't find anything online about them.
You were correct! Celluloid was the first synthetic plastic material (I believe).

Razor brands are complicated, and further complicated by the fact that handles were easily broken and for a fee many barbers (etc.) would replace handles with 'aftermarket' handles if you will. So razor handles often don't match the blade inside. Your blade does match the handles so there's a good chance it is original.

I can't see the marking clearly though it does look etched rather than stamped. If all it says on the front tang is "Americus", that's just a brand or model name, and the maker's, wholesaler's, or retailer's mark is likely on the reverse. The "Melba" version of this was sold by retailer Jack Knife Ben (Benjamin Chon) of the Union Stock Yards in Chicago, who was an interesting character and whose knives etc. are very desirable. Yours isn't a Melba, but it is the same basic style of handle.
 
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Casey13

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Sep 17, 2021
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505
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Metal Detecting
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You were correct! Celluloid was the first synthetic plastic material (I believe).

Razor brands are complicated, and further complicated by the fact that handles were easily broken and for a fee many barbers (etc.) would replace handles with 'aftermarket' handles if you will. So razor handles often don't match the blade inside. Your blade does match the handles so there's a good chance it is original.

I can't see the marking clearly though it does look etched rather than stamped. If all it says on the front tang is "Americus", that's just a brand or model name, and the maker's, wholesaler's, or retailer's mark is likely on the reverse. The "Melba" version of this was sold by retailer Jack Knife Ben (Benjamin Chon) of the Union Stock Yards in Chicago, who was an interesting character and whose knives etc. are very desirable. Yours isn't a Melba, but it is the same basic style of handle.
Thank you so much for explaining all this information!! You have a ton af knowledge on these things and thats awesome!!
 

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