One of the popular aspects of wet shaving is finding vintage shaving gear. The thrill of finding a gem in the wild makes all of the long days of finding nothing… almost worth it :). In that vein, here are a few hints and tips for when you go hunting up vintage diamonds in the rough.
Where are “good” places to look:
Antique shops are shops where most of the items for sale are being sold by the owner of the store. There may be a few items on consignment, but the majority will be owned by the shop itself. Antique stores usually specialize in a few areas and have a smattering of others things. The owners are generally people who have been in the business for a long time. It’s not uncommon for them to have inventory in a “back room” that they haven’t gone through in years. Stop by on a semi-regular basis and they will recognize you and may be able to help you find a few items.
Antique malls are larger stores that rent out booth space to individual vendors. Each vendor will set up thier own shelves, lighting, and displays. Antique malls have a wider selection of items to look through. However, the store employees may not be as up to date on what is in the store and prices are usually higher.
A flea market is usually a free for all that consists of people from all walks of life selling trash, treasure, vintage, “fell off the truck” items, and the contents of grandma’s junk drawer. You can find some amazing items and the people watching can worth the trip alone. Haggling is usually expected. Wear your comfortable walking shoes and bring a bottle of water, cause you are going ot have to literally “dig” through a lot of stuff.
If you have never been to a live auction, do yourself a favor and attend one just for the experience. Imagine what an eBay bidding war looks like live and in person. From my personal experience, you can get some great deals in local auctions. However, you have to be willing to look through a LOT of items to see if there is anything shaving related. The bad part is that you will probably come across a few other items you wouldn’t mind picking up as well.
These are sales of a person’s household, quite often deceased or being moved into assisted living. These are often managed by the a third party company or close relatives. I haven’t seen much shaving gear put out for display at these, but have had luck asking if the deceased had “any old shaving or barber items”. Most people don’t realize there is a group of us actively hunting up vintage shaving gear.
Tips for finding the diamond in the rough
Where to look
More often than not, especially in antique malls, most shaving items will be in some sort of locked glass case. Razors are small lightweight items that can disappear in someone’s pocket very easily, thus the locked cases.
Bring sufficient light
Most shaving gear is fairly small and can get pushed into back corners. Some shops are dimly lit or stacked to the ceilings. Having your own light lets you find the back corners and better see condition and markings.
Bring a notebook
Have any relevant notes handy and have pen and paper ready to take any notes on finds or to leave notes for dealers.
Have a stack of business cards to leave with dealers. Ask them to give you a call if something shave related shows up. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Get the cheapest option available and include a name and an email. If you want you can leave your phone number as well.
This is a little tip I saw somewhere else that I thought was brilliant. A lot of times its really hard to make out a logo or makers mark due to grime, dirt, and rust. If you rub a little chalk into the lines it will make them stand out MUCH more and you don’t damage the item. Remember, one person’s dirt may be another person’s “patina” and “you break it, you bought it”.
A picture is worth a thousand words. With today’s cell phones, this may be your most powerful tool. If you are really lucky you could snap a picture and send it to someone for a second opinion before you even leave the store.
Hunting up and finding items in unlikely places is one of the aspects of wet shaving that drew me into the hobby. Have you ever had any luck… or disasters when finding things in the wild? Let us know in the comments below. As always, if you liked the article or found it helpful please share it with others.
Have a great day and a smooth shave!