Badgers, and the badger brushes produced from their hair, have a strong link to traditional shaving, but describing grades of hair remains controversial.

We have posted previously, see here, on badger hair grades.  In looking further into this topic we found this media release from 28 January 2014.  It refers to comments on the topic, amongst other things, by the current Managing Director of Simpson Shaving Brushes, Mark Watterson.

Unfortunately Kaliandee, a Canadian ‘Purveyor of fine shaving and grooming tools, and exquisite leather items‘, who undertook the original interview is no longer in business.  The link to the full interview in that release is now a dead link.


Of course, that was not an acceptable outcome.

With some internet sleuthing we have tracked down the full interview.  The first part of this, where he talks about the models of brushes and grades of hair, is reproduced below.  The second part will be published next week.

Interview with Mark Watterson of Simpson's and VulfixJan 2014

[Original Source:]

1. Are there any major differences between the production process for Simpson’s brushes and the high-end Vulfix models?

Firstly, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to answer some truly excellent questions, it’s a genuine pleasure.

Both our Simpson & Vulfix shaving brushes are produced using time-served traditional methods. Every shaving brush knot is hand-tied, this process entirely unique to our company in Great Britain.

The discernible differences between the Simpson and Vulfix brands are the density of the knots, the finish of each handle & of course the names of the brushes & the history attached to them. Simpson shaving brushes are widely regarded as the finest shaving tools in the world, their incredibly dense knots produce decadent lathers for an exhilarating shaving experience.

Each Simpson shaving brush handle is laser engraved denoting the model and grade of hair used. They also house the world famous Simpson Black & Gold sticker. Lastly, each Simpson model is named based on a history which dates back to 1919. For example the Wee Scot bears the signature of Alexander Simpson, the founder of the company all those years ago. Vulfix brushes tend to be mid-high end luxury items although the primary business associated with the brand is OEM or White labelling work.

2. In a previous interview, you mentioned that a Simpsons brush takes about a week to produce. Approximately how much of that time is actual, “hands-on” work?

Yes, a single Simpson shaving brush takes approximately one week to produce. It is an incredibly labour intensive process. Out of the seven day production time, probably three of four of the days are spent actually constructing and finishing the brush.

… a single Simpson shaving brush takes approximately one week to produce
Mark Watterson, MD, Simpson Shaving Brushes

The weighing of the hair, bundling, tying & setting of each knot takes a couple of days followed by the actual glue process, finishing & packing of each individual brush. Brush handles spend approximately three days being lathe turned, vibrated in limestone chippings and polished in wood chip timber drum barrels.

3. Are there certain Vulfix or Simpsons models that take significantly more time or skill than others to produce?

It takes a craftsman or craftswoman many years to perfect the art of good bundling or knot formation. We are blessed with the best in the business. Some knots really do provide the most amazing test of their dexterity & concentration – most notably the tiny Wee Scot & the legendary monstrous Chubby 3.

4. Hair grades can be confusing for beginners; can you clarify how the Vulfix badger grades relate to Simpsons grades? And the big question: is the Simpsons Super grade technically silvertip hair?

Badger hair grading is a minefield & notoriously confusing. There is no internationally accepted or recognised hair standardisation. However, as the world’s leading & oldest shaving brush manufacturer we believe our descriptions of badger hair set the benchmark.

We classify our badger hair offerings as follows:

1) Pure Badger hair is of the highest quality, carefully graded for hand filled brushes. It is regarded as an affordable entry level material by leading shaving brush manufacturers. The hair is dark and silver in appearance, immediately identifying the brush as being of an above average standard, and confirming the purity of the hair mixture. This grade of hair is firmer to the touch, scratchy on the skin and is favoured by traditionalists looking to exfoliate the skin prior to shaving.

2) Best Badger (Simpson) is a very high quality grade of hair, used only in our hand filled brushes. This hair is chosen by the more discerning wet shaver for its softness on the skin and water retention qualities. A unique dark band capped by light, almost white tips makes this hair very recognizable in its appearance. All of Simpson’s Best Badger brushes are hand-made and the tapered head shape is achieved without the use of trimming machinery, a time saving method employed by other manufacturers. As a result the softest and smoothest of shaves from tips in their natural state is guaranteed. A Best Badger brush should give its user many years of service.

3) Super Badger (Vulfix) is premium quality hair. It originates from around the neck of the animal & is extremely soft. Visually the material can be two or three band in appearance, a slightly Silver Brown lower band giving rise to a darker colour before the tip of the brush tapers to a Silver White finish.

4) True Silvertip (Simpson Super) is extremely limited in its availability & gives the badger hair special status amongst the wet shaving fraternity. Indeed some would deem it the holy grail of shaving. The hair is untreated and comes in its natural state, shaped by the hand and left un-trimmed to give an exceptionally soft feel.

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