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Thread: J.R. Torrey Razor

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    Default J.R. Torrey Razor

    Hey all,

    I'm new to the forum and to the SR world. I just bought a Torrey razor and I'm excited to use it for the first time once I'm done restoring it.

    I'm curious as to it's age. I'm a fan of antiques, especially stories. Is there a way to determine the age of the blade? I understand that they made razors through '64, is there a way to tell if it is older?

    Good shaving,

    SCMorgan

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    The Knight who says NI! mcgyver74's Avatar
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    Not sure about how old it is, but I have a Torrey 199, it's a fantastic shaver

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    Senior Member sheajohnw's Avatar
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    As a life long resident of MA and NH, I am interested in the history of this Worcester MA company. I have two Torreys, a 5/8 spike point and a "Swedish Razor" frame back model. Both razors have the arched tang label with the arrow through "US" in the center and both are good shavers. Good Torreys can still be found at reasonable prices.

    As I recall from forum discussion, the arched tang label is from the early 20th century. Earlier tang labels were straight line print. I wish that I could find a catalogue and other documentation of the different models made over time and how to tell them apart.

    Torrey was a pioneer aviator and industrialist. The success and later complete failure of his strop and razor business is a classic business school riches to rags case study. Torrey refused to adapt to changing market conditions believing that since straight razors are the best shaving instruments, the public must eventually come to its senses and return to straight razor shaving. His company and descendants eventually became penniless by the 1960s.

    A similar fate appears to be developing for Eastman Kodak and has occurred to the lamented MA computer giants, Digital (DEC) and Wang Laboratories, at one time solid great companies to work for in MA which could or would not adapt to changing markets.

    Worcester was named after its counterpart in old England and is the second largest city in MA with a population of 181,000. Yes, I can spell Worcester without having to look it up and know how to pronounce its name (Sounds like Wister as it is pronounced in old England). Phoenetic pronouciation is never correct and its use would result in the speaker's immediate identification as an alien to New England. For natives of MA, "Wister" (preferred) often becomes "Wistah".
    Last edited by sheajohnw; 02-02-2012 at 11:28 AM.

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    My razor came today and the stamp is as you described. Arched with the US crossed with an Arrow. I'm excited to clean it up and see how she shaves.

    Thank you for your responses!

    Yours,

    SC

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    @SRP we do not work alone bonitomio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheajohnw View Post
    As a life long resident of MA and NH, I am interested in the history of this Worcester MA company. I have two Torreys, a 5/8 spike point and a "Swedish Razor" frame back model. Both razors have the arched tang label with the arrow through "US" in the center and both are good shavers. Good Torreys can still be found at reasonable prices.

    As I recall from forum discussion, the arched tang label is from the early 20th century. Earlier tang labels were straight line print. I wish that I could find a catalogue and other documentation of the different models made over time and how to tell them apart.

    Torrey was a pioneer aviator and industrialist. The success and later complete failure of his strop and razor business is a classic business school riches to rags case study. Torrey refused to adapt to changing market conditions believing that since straight razors are the best shaving instruments, the public must eventually come to its senses and return to straight razor shaving. His company and descendants eventually became penniless by the 1960s.

    A similar fate appears to be developing for Eastman Kodak and has occurred to the lamented MA computer giants, Digital (DEC) and Wang Laboratories, at one time solid great companies to work for in MA which could or would not adapt to changing markets.

    Worcester was named after its counterpart in old England and is the second largest city in MA with a population of 181,000. Yes, I can spell Worcester without having to look it up and know how to pronounce its name (Sounds like Wister as it is pronounced in old England). Phoenetic pronouciation is never correct and its use would result in the speaker's immediate identification as an alien to New England. For natives of MA, "Wister" (preferred) often becomes "Wistah".
    If Torrey´s company had lasted another 50 years he would have set the precedent for the classic "riches to rags to riches" business model for knowing more about what consitutes good shaving than the poor general public, who were "lead down the garden path."

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    This was posted at an other thread about Torrey Army razor a few years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by holli4pirating View Post
    Aside from what I said above about the US stamp
    -I believe the bullwhip was their first stamp, and I believe some of those used imported steel. I had one that I'm pretty sure was Sheffield steel.
    -I believe Torrey was, at some point, the largest producer of straight razors in the US.

    I know I read some sort of history of Torrey and his company at some point, but I can't remember where I found it (though I am 99% sure it was on SRP or from someone on SRP; perhaps a link to an ebook/google books?)
    Dylan, I have a cool (but long out of print) book called "The Razor Anthology" published in 1995 as a series of razor-related articles from Knife World magazine. I picked it up at an online used book store. It has articles devoted to the history of many razor makers, one of them Torrey. Maybe this was the article you're referring to. The quality of the articles varies from excellent to terrible, but the Torrey one is good. This notes below are gleaned from that article.

    Torrey started as a strop business in 1858, and they imported razors from England and Sweden.
    In 1880, a Sheffield immigrant named Joseph Turner joined J. R. Torrey, and they started making their own razors.
    The earliest marking for the Torrey razors is three straight lines on the shank that read "THE TORREY RAZOR CO. / WORCESTER, MASS / USA".
    The article notes an 1895 Torrey catalog in which the "usual" Torrey marking appears, which it describes as "THE J.R. TORREY CO." in an arc over a "U.S." and an arrow trademark with "WORCESTER, MASS" under the trademark.
    The Torrey razors marked with the whip are called the "Whip Line," and were a low-priced line of razors which also began production around 1895. The blades were made of the same steel as the finer grades of razors, they just weren't highly finished. Some of them weren't even hollow ground, but plain ground. They simply have the name "TORREY" in an arc over the whip, which is curled around itself.
    An interesting tidbit: In 1892, Torrey patented the "ear of corn" handle pattern. The article notes that this pattern is also seen on Lakeside Cutlery handles, and that Lakeside Cutlery razors are extremely similar in grind to Torrey razors. Joseph Turner (the Sheffield immigrant who joined Torrey in 1880) also holds the patent for the early Lakeside Cutlery safety razor, which looks identical to the safety razor Torrey produced. This led the author to speculate that perhaps some(?) Lakeside Cutlery razors may have actually come out of the Torrey factory in Worcester.

    Unfortunately, no mention is made of the "Army" marking in the article. Sorry.

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    this is great info. Thanks for this. i also am a resident of Worcester MA, and have a few Torreys I have brought back home (almost quite literally), and was interested in dating what I have found. The info you provided was spot on!!!
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    Interestingly enough, I work in Worcester, and I've dropped patients off at a facility right around the corner from the old Torrey razor building on the corner of Chandler and Piedmont. I have a J.R. Torrey's "The Artist" and it's one of my favorite blades to shave with. In fact, I just found another Torrey's "The Artist" and am awaiting it in the mail. They have no barber's notch, are not too terribly wide, and a slight smile to them which makes them awfully forgiving for budding straight razor shavers. Hell, if I can shave well with them, ANYBODY can!

    Great steel, really keeps an edge well. If it begins to pull a little, I wet the 8K and give it a few very light passes -good as new!

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    Name:  IMG_20141123_150323.jpg
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Size:  8.5 KBHi all, I am in possession of Torreys oil edge dressing, I have scoured the internet looking for information on it and have found nothing really. I am aware that the tin is very rare and with the contents inside still, extremely rare. any information would help.

    Thanks in advance.
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    It's leather strop dressing. I'm not sure of what is in the dressing, but it is probably paraffin or maybe mink oil.
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