Before you try and make a British Aristocrat, let’s take a step back and make sure we know what they are.

Once again I’m referring to a thread from a shaving forum, this time on Badger & Blade by member Northstonehill.   It is a great thread, lots of pictures, I’d encourage you to check it out!

For many years we tried to identify the British Aristocrat range by the set number, the number identifying the ‘set’ it was sold in, largely using the collection of Mr-Razor as the standard. However over time we came to realise that Gillette was not always consistent and different razors were often being sold with a ‘set’ with the same number – that made things awkward.

Instead, collectors generally switched to talking of four distinct ‘generations’ of the British Aristocrats, as Northstonehill summarises –

1st generation:

Made in the mid-late 1930s. The razor didn’t really change during production except that early ones (1936) had non-winged centerbars (this early model sometimes called the “Pre-#15”) and were silver plated. Later (1938) the centerbar was changed and the razor was rhodium plated (a gold razor in the #19 set, though).

Early 1st generations had patent no 400.621 on the baseplate, later ones with 430.030 on the baseplate. Some with engravings on the handle, some not (model year variations?). Distinguishing feature: The only open comb of the 4 family generations, and with a thicker handle than the same-era Gillette Popular.

2nd generation:

Made in the late 1940s: solid bar, baseplate 430.030. Came in rhodium and possibly gold. Distinguishing feature: Two broad non-knurled bands at each end of the handle (above the TTO knob).

3rd generation:

Made in the late 1940s/early 1950s, solid bar, baseplate 430.030, rhodium or gold plating. Distinguishing feature: The heaviest razor of the generations at 82 grams, 5-10 grams heavier than the others.

4th generation:

Made in the 1950s (1953-58ish), solid bar, rhodium or gold plating. Distinguishing feature: diamond pressed baseplate; actually the same head as on the same-era Gillette Rockets.

BTW, you can see a number of British Aristocrat razors in my collection videos.

Gillette Aristocrat Advertisement

So now we know what a British Aristocrat is, it is time to make one surely!

Thankfully, in a 1936 publication, released to coincide with the opening of their new London factory, Gillette have shown us how – well sort of!

You can see from the image below taken from that booklet just how many steps are involved in the production of these razors.  This was not a simple process in many ways, although you could say that there are relatively few components.

Making A British Aristocrat

It is fascinating to me that despite all the resurgence in wet shaving no modern day manufacturer has taken the trouble to try and recreate these magnificent razors.

Photos really do not do the magnificent Gillette British Aristocrat razors justice – they are a work of art!

Razor in Gallery
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