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Towards the mid-20th Century, when snuff was first introduced in China, it
was believed that it had medicinal qualities and was used to treat the common cold, relieve sore throats, alleviate tooth aches and
used as a cure for migraine headaches. Snuff however was not intended nor was it used for all the people of China, but was limited
in use and availability to the upper echelons of society. It was mainly used by the elite peoples associated with the Qing Dynasty and
the royal court of Beijing. As such, vessels to carry the snuff otherwise known as snuff bottles and or snuff boxes had to be attractive,
ornately designed and beautiful to go with one’s social standing.
Zing zing, zing zing, zing zing . . . can you guess what vintage collectible makes that sound? Well, there is probably more than one answer but the one we’re thinking about is the antique straight razor. It makes that distinct and often recognizable sound to men, as they watch the old time barber sharpen his instrument on a razor strop. This is the same razor he will use after applying that thick-rich lather to the back of the neck and around the ears. Or in some cases your beard if that service has been requested.
Straight razors are described as a blade that can be folded into a handle. These types of razors were used for hundreds of years by men all over the world to shave in the morning. Now, due to the invention of safety razors and electric razors, most men, and most barbers, do not use straight razors. However, many collectors love the old pieces not only for their nostalgic magic, but because some can be pieces of art.
Straight razors, both the blade and the handle can be made of various materials. Some of the most beautiful examples were made in Europe; Germany and Sheffield England were two primary spots known for metallurgy. In America, companies like the Shumate Razor Company and the Geneva Cutlery Company are well known for the design and beauty of their straight razors. Rare examples of these razors include carved handled specimens made of bone and highly decorated ones in sterling.