A couple of vintage Brits - the 1920s Shavex Zee-Kol and the 1930s Joseph Potter Velvet II

Over the last 3 years I have collected a number of non-Gillette British vintage razors, mainly from Sheffield and thereabouts. They always seem to fit my shaving tastes: Mild mannered razors with high efficiency - and oftentimes with fabulous unique designs. Just think Eclipse Red Ring or the Darwins, they take your breath away!

But actually, these two are a couple of my absolute favorites: The Shavex Zee-Kol and the Joseph Potter Velvet II. Both of them I acquired from the same seller, my favorite dealer of British razor goodies.

I got this wonderful art deco style looker about a year ago. As I understand, it was retailed by the Shavex Zee-Kol Company of 49 Blenheim Road, Upper Holloway, London. Registered in 1910, patented in about 1915 and made up until the early 1940s. This one supposedly is a very early model. It is solid brass, has a silver handle and chromed head, 62 grams with 38 of these in the handle. 79 mm assembled.

It shaves great, but the baseplate seems so fine and delicate that I don't dare use it a lot. Of course I could, this is solid stuff, and it is just gorgeous. The handle is my favorite handle of all, though unfortunately it does not fit my Gillettes, otherwise I would use it daily. On top of the looks it has the best grip of any handle I've tried.

Anyone outthere know anything more about this amazing looker? I have found a little bit of info in here and elsewhere online, but I would really like to know more. Thanks.

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I also got another Shavex, this one on with bakelite handle. This one I got for tuppence and it is not in as nice shape as the other one. Further, I suspect the handle may be unoriginal, looks a lot like a Wardonia to me.

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It came to me with a double baseplate, both an open comb and a solid bar baseplate. The solid bar pierced baseplate looks pretty much identical to the other one and also shares the patent no. 761904. The other one has no markings and could well be a no-name clone added later.

I am unsure if these are simply interchangable baseplates or they somehow go together? - Because the handle does not fit the Shavex baseplate alone. So my first instinct is that they are interchangable. Grateful for your thoughts on this.

The Velvet Mark II was made In England between 1935-39 and is a 3-piece razor produced by Joseph Potter of the city of Birmingham. It was retailed exclusively through F.W. Woolworth's stores which also were the only retailers of the Sheffield made "Velvet" blades.

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The guard is a very slim, flat closed comb with a slick edge and is stamped ‘Made in England' with ‘Patent Pending', which alledgedly makes it an early one. The cap is stamped ‘Velvet' along both top edges.

Earlier Potter models had unique diamond shaped pegs for blade alignment but this model featured the more traditional round pegs, meaning standard long slot blades would fit. The handle is a hollow ball-end style but has a thick tube and doesn't seem to suffer the same stress cracks as the Gillette handles of the same time period.

The Velvet takes standard DE blades and weighs in at a mere 47g with a total length of 82mm. The material is nickel plate on brass (even if it looks like silver).

The razor is a pleasure to hold and look at, very light and nimble with a very nice balance. Before and during the shave the feel and balance is very much like my Rotbart Extra, but a bit lighter and of course with the solid comb rather than open comb.

Paired up with a Feather blade it delivers a perfect easy 3-pass shave, very efficient, a bit more so than a standard Tech. I love solid bars as the nick factor seems gone completely.


Thanks for reading, I am smitten with these early Brits and it really seems like the various British razor makers in the 1930s and 1940s competed on making the most fancy and artistic bar/baseplates.
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