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Thread: Early Gilchrist?

  1. #1
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    Default Early Gilchrist?

    My wife was searching through some boxes that were heirlooms of the family.
    What do we have here?
    Black buffalo horn and the symbols on the handle (2 diamonds and a shield) seem to be made of pearl.
    Could they be a manufactures crest?
    I also noticed that there is no Wade and Butcher symbol below the Gilchrist stamp.
    Could it have been made before he sold the rights to them?

    I'm 100% new to straight razors and I cant stop obsessing over them.
    Any help would be GREATLY appreciated

    Thanks in advance

    Mikaeus
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Can't help with any info but that sure is a nice find. Cleaned up and honed it should make a fine shaver with a family connectio, the best of two worlds. Congrats.

    Bob
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    After listening to someone talk ever wonder who ties their shoe laces?

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    Unfortunately I cant find anyone within Halifax that can help me with honing, maintenance or getting a strop.
    But I do have a honing stone we believe goes with it. Double sided and about 9 inches long.
    somewhat coarse on one with and fairly fine on the other

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    There was a banned member up Greenwood way that would have been able to help you with the honing. Honing is something I would not recommend you try if you have no experience especially on a family heirloom in such nice condition. I'll send you a PM.

    Bob
    After listening to someone talk ever wonder who ties their shoe laces?

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    Historically Inquisitive Martin103's Avatar
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    Welcome to SRP, thats a fantastic looking razor you found there, and a family heirloom. The horn scales and mother of pearl insert looks to be in very good condition.

    WM Gilchrist was an importer of cutlery, so he didnt sell the right to Wade and Butcher, manufacturers produce cutlery and razors for his company. Im sure you are aware that a Gilchrist pocket knife was found on Abraham Lincoln when he past away.

    An interesting newspaper clipping from 1861.
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    Lastly, being a family heirloom and all you should really consider sending this razor out for restoration and honing, and then use it!

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    That's amazing, I didn't know anything like that about Gilchrist.
    He helped smuggle weapons in for the rebellion during the civil war?! CRAZY!
    I'm loving this razor more and more

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    Senior Member blabbermouth RezDog's Avatar
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    there are a few people in Canada doing restores and honing. Phil at Classic Edge comes to mind. The banned user BobH is talking about does a wicked edge too!

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    im gonna have to get in contact with him somehow it seems

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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin103 View Post
    Welcome to SRP, thats a fantastic looking razor you found there, and a family heirloom. The horn scales and mother of pearl insert looks to be in very good condition.

    WM Gilchrist was an importer of cutlery, so he didnt sell the right to Wade and Butcher, manufacturers produce cutlery and razors for his company. Im sure you are aware that a Gilchrist pocket knife was found on Abraham Lincoln when he past away.

    An interesting newspaper clipping from 1861.
    Name:  gilchrist1.JPG
Views: 396
Size:  34.5 KB
    Name:  gilchrist2.JPG
Views: 385
Size:  33.4 KB
    Name:  gilchrist3.JPG
Views: 381
Size:  24.0 KB

    Lastly, being a family heirloom and all you should really consider sending this razor out for restoration and honing, and then use it!
    I came across this thread because I've been researching Gilchrist because of a razor I got (one of the Ramapo Razor Co. razors). I had what looked like a reasonable sketch of his history until I came across this newspaper clipping, but it certainly does explain some things.

    All of this is extremely fragmentary and the records I can find are often contradictory. There are about 5 different family trees on Ancestry that list Wm. Gilchrist's mother as being born 30 years AFTER him. What follows is my reconstruction.

    William Wallace Gilchrist was born July 29th, 1818 in Rivier-du-Loup, Canada to William Wallace Gilchrist (get used to that name, they were a real cut & paste kinda family!), a businessman from Scotland.

    Sometime around 1820 the Gilchrists moved to America and the elder William set up shop as an importer. By 1830 or so, his son William Jr. was working for him.

    As near as I can tell, by the late 1840's Wm. Gilchrist (which one? I don't know) was selling razors. All the directory listings I can find for him describe him as a manufacturer. He was definitely doing some kind of manufacturing because he managed to burn down a barn on the Ramapo creek while making the first steel pen nibs made in America. That happened around 1853. Though the 1882 Encyclopedia Britannica lists the date for the barn burning down as November of 1853, a newspaper report of the event is dated February of that year.

    The same year he won a medal for razors produced under the Ramapo Razor Co. business name. I kind of wonder if the Wm. Gilchrist stamped razors were William Sr. and Ramapo were William Jr.

    We'll get to William Jr, Jr, then William Jr, Jr, Jr later.

    There are a couple variants of Wm. Gilchrist razors. Some have a bow on them, some have the Wade & Butcher arrow and cross, some just say Gilchrist. Most folks have assumed he was an importer, but I'm not so sure. For one thing, the Gilchrist arrow stamped razors are emphatically not using the same die as genuine W&B. More interesting still, I don't think I've ever seen an actual Wade & Butcher razor with that mark on it that predates the Gilchrist models. I strongly suspect that he was either under contract to the Butcher brothers to produce goods in America for the American market, and thus avoid tariffs, or Wade & Butcher bought the marks off him when he went bankrupt.

    In any event, William Gilchrist (Jr, the Junior born in Canada) lived about a block away from Wade & Butcher's man on the street in America, Robert Wade (also a junior, his father, the co-founder of Wade & Butcher died when he was 7 years old. His mother, Jane, continued to produce razors with the Wade name on them for a few years until she too died in 1827). They were both associated with Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia around 1860. Wade was a year younger than Gilchrist. They both had lots of kids, and their kids probably knew each other.

    That, of course, is all leading up to the arrest in 1861 for treason. In 1860 he's listed as a manufacturer of Razors in Philadelphia.

    Then things get really complicated and sparse, beginning with that arrest.

    Was it his father that was arrested? Or was it him? No clue. I can't find any records of the outcome of the trial, though accounts of the trial all seem to boil down to "hey, I know I got caught selling all these munitions to the South, but it was really the fault of these DIRTY FOREIGNERS!"

    Whatever the outcome, William Wallace Gilchrist was a manufacturer of kerosene lamps and metal goods in 1862. I've got a copy of a letter he wrote to his son in early December, 1862. That suggests he was acquitted or the man arrested was Gilchrist Sr, but either way, there was still a William Gilchrist selling goods in Philadelphia in 1862.

    And his son, also William Wallace Gilchrist, went on to become a minor figure in the history of American music.

    And his son William Wallace was a painter.

    The biography of the composer says only that his father fell on hard times with the outbreak of the civil war. That's backed up by tax records which list all his wealth in 1865 being in two watches (his and his wife's) and a piano, as well as an extremely meager income.

    I don't entirely know how to untangle all that, but I'm still digging. With luck, I'll be able to get in touch with living family.

    --

    Edited to add:

    Two separate biographers of the son and grandson both failed to turn up even 1/10th of the information listed here, so it's not at all sure anything else can be turned up, or how accurate what I've found is. The only thing I'm sure of is the family tree. The one with about a zillion William Wallaces in it. (The Painter's son was named Bill).
    Last edited by Voidmonster; 11-21-2013 at 12:45 AM.
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  13. #10
    barba crescit caput nescit Phrank's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RezDog View Post
    there are a few people in Canada doing restores and honing. Phil at Classic Edge comes to mind. The banned user BobH is talking about does a wicked edge too!
    Yup, Phil at Classic Edge is a real pro...no doubt about it. (Classic Edge is a member here)

    Also, there's thegentlemansden, he's in Toronto, does great work, he is also a member here.

    Good luck, that's a gorgeous blade in stunning condition!

    That's a frameback razor isn't it?
    Last edited by Phrank; 11-21-2013 at 12:50 AM.

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