Vintage Straight Razors: Identification & Value Guide

Recently, my kids went on an antique hunting spree at my father’s home. There, they stumbled upon an old shaving kit in the cellar (which they handed over to me, of course)!

The kit included many of his things, including his favorite straight razor, which he got from a new shop in town and is worth around $10!

Now, as an antique expert, I know that an authentic vintage straight razor would be worth at least a hundred dollars. It’s raw and has a stunning ornate design on the handle. But it’s not just that. I examined many other features to identify its authenticity and price. And I’d like to share it all with you!


  • The wedge-ground straight razors are one of the oldest models and, hence, quite precious. 
  • Branded razors with clear brand names, model names, or origin markings fetch more returns for authenticity. 
  • Look for vintage models with ornate decoration on handles using exotic materials like ivory, tortoiseshell, pearl, and ivory, as it may hike your straight razor’s price. 
  • Original marked cases in good shape can raise the value of an antique razor by about $50 – $80. 

Key Identification Features of Vintage Straight Razors

Antique Straight Razors

Well, an old straight razor will, of course, look a little bit weary, with a few signs of aging, like dents, chips, and rust. But that doesn’t necessarily make it VINTAGE!

To ensure that your old razor is a valuable antique piece, spot the following features in it:

  • Wedge ground razor blades
  • hand-painted or hand-forged handles with designs
  • Handle materials like wood, bone, ivory, and horns
  • Wrought iron, cast iron, cast steel, carbon steel, or bronze blades
  • Intricate decoration of the handle using tortoiseshell, mother of pearl, or ivory
  • Classic Pivot folding mechanism

Interesting History of Straight Razors

Historical evidence suggests that the earliest people used sharpened clamshells, shark teeth, and flint for shaving purposes. These tools soon transitioned into metals like wrought iron and bronze blades.

Then, a Sheffield manufacturer came up with the first narrow-bladed folding straight razors around the 1680s. Soon, people saw the rise of those antique wooden “L” shaped straight razors with wedge-style blades around the 1700s.

In the late 18th century, Benjamin Huntsman, who invented cast steel, made ornate razors with hollow-ground cast steel blades, which went on to rule the scene for long. The 19th century saw the rise of stainless steel razors, which were efficient yet common.

But during the mid and late 20th century, electric razors became more popular as a hassle-free option for shaving. And those straight razors became outdated, making the vintage ones highly valuable.

3 Types of Vintage Straight Razors with Values

Let’s discover the most popular types of vintage straight razors according to the shape and design of their blade; the main element!

1. Wedge Ground Straight Razors

You can easily identify this type of straight razor blade with its thick spine, sharp edge, and straight sides. Durable and heavy, vintage wedge razors are worth around $10 – $300, depending on other factors like brand, blade point, and material.

2. Hollow Ground Straight Razors

As the name says, this razor’s blade features a hollow grind or a concave profile on the face. This means the blade will be thinner on the edge than in the center, which makes it quite delicate, too. Generally, these cost around $5 – $80, with the branded ones going up to $200.

Besides, depending on the degree of hollow grind, you can categorize these as a quarter, half, full, and extra hollow ground blades.

3. Frameback Straight Razors

If your old razor has a thick frame with a thin blade fitted into it, you’re looking at a frameback razor. Sturdy and easy to sharpen, these newer razors can be priced around $20 – $100 only.

Finding the Value of Vintage Straight Razors (7 Key Factors)

When it comes to spotting and appraising a real antique straight razor, many factors, like its age, materials, and brand, will help you.

1. Straight Razor’s Age

Old Straight Razor

The earliest prehistoric straight razors were made of natural materials like clam shells, shark teeth, and flint. But of course, you won’t find these today. So, if you want very old and precious straight razors, look for an 18th or early 19th-century model.

Now, you can trace the vintage razor’s age with the help of the manufacturer’s name and year stamped or carved on the blade. But, if it’s gone faded, take these cues:

  • Pre-18th Century Straight Razors: These razors would have natural handles made of bone, stone, wood, and ivory. You would also see wrought iron or bronze blades with a single cutting wedge grind connected via iron or brass pins. But these may not have a pivot mechanism or any maker’s marks. 
  • The 18th Century Straight Razors: The razors from this era had decorated and silver-covered handles with cast steel ⅝ inches blades with full or half hollow-ground points. You may also spot personalized razors with custom engraving on them. 
  • The 19th Century Straight Razors: If a razor has high-quality carbon, silver, or stainless steel hollow-grind blades with square, round, or French points, it’s likely a 19th-century razor. 
    You may also see straight razors with celluloid handles and intricate designs using tortoiseshell or mother of pearl in some branded models. Brands like Dovo and Boker were popular for their new designs.
  • The 20th Century Razors: Handle materials like Bakelite, celluloid, and plastic were more common in this era, while blades were mostly made of stainless steel. These razors will be more polished with simpler designs and logos on blades and handles. 

Old and rusty blades can be harmful to the skin. So make sure that your blade doesn’t have any signs of pitting and rust up to 3mm above the cutting edge.

2. Materials (Handles & Blades)

Vintage Razor Materials

We know that old tools were usually made of naturally found materials. The same is true for straight razors. But with time, many new materials came into play. Let’s see how the blade and handle materials can help you identify a real vintage razor.

  • Blade Material: Usually, authentic vintage razors feature wrought iron, bronze, or cast steel blades. On the other hand, the newer ones will have stainless or carbon steel, or even ceramic blades, which are more polished and hence, less valuable. 
  • Handle Material: If your straight razor has raw and rustic wood, bone, horn, ivory, or metal (brass or nickel) handles, it’s likely a vintage model worth up to $250. The newer common models have celluloid, Bakelite, or other synthetic handles made of acrylic, ABS, resin, and plastic.
Razor Handle MaterialEstimated Price
Wood$10 – $250
Ivory$10 – $50
Horn$10 – $200 (Branded ones can cost up to $250) 
Bone$5 – $150
Celluloid$5 – $40

3. Blade Point

Straight Razor Blade Point

If a straight razor has Square, Round, French, and Barber’s Notch points, it belongs to the vintage era of the 18th & 19th centuries. On the contrary, the Spike, Spanish, and Dutch points came later in around the mid or late 20th century, and are less of a collectible.

Here’s how the blade points can impact a vintage straight razor’s value:

Vintage Blade DesignKey Features Estimated Price
Square Point Straight, sharp points at the end of the blade$20 – $130
Spike PointQuarter-circle-like point with a sharp spike end$10 – $50
Barber’s NotchA small U-shaped concave curve in the point$30 – $150 
Spanish PointCurved points on a Spike blade$15 – $220
French Point A quarter-circle-like point with a sharp spike end$15 – $160

Check if the blade is touching the sides of the razor scale or handle while being folded into it or not. If it touches, it may damage the blade.

4. Vintage Straight Razor Brands

Vintage Razor Brand

Branded straight razors are undoubtedly worth more! So, make sure to spot the brand logos, serial numbers, as well as trademarks of signature models! Usually, you can find the brand logos on the blade or its shank.

Below is a list of some prominent vintage razor brands and their general resale values:

Straight Razor BrandsKey Features & LogosEstimated Price
Wade & Butcher“Wade&Butcher” logo on the blade shank, $10 – $400
George Wostenholm & Sons“George Wostenholm & Son” engraved on the blade$20 – $450
Joseph Rodgers“Joseph Rodgers & Sons” logo on the shank$30 – $250
William Greaves & Sons“Wm. Greaves & Sons” engraved on the shank, often with “Sheaf Works” $10 – $230
Dubl Duck“Dubl Duck” logo carved on the blade shank$20 – $200
Boker“H.Boker & Co.” and serial no. carved on the blade shank $20 – $180

Avoid getting an old straight razor with no name, make, or origin marking on any of its parts. It could possibly be a forged model.

5. Folding Mechanism

Old straight razors with the classic pivot mechanism can be traced back to the pre-19th century era, making them precious. Whereas other efficient folding mechanisms like the adjustable pivot, locking mechanism, or multiple blade handles suggest a later, newer make. And these razors are, of course, less valuable collectibles.

6. The Rarity of Old Razors

Rare Vintage Straight Razor

The value of vintage straight razors also depends on how common or rare the models are! Like, the Thiers-Issard razors mainly feature nonnative materials like exotic woods, ivory, tortoise shells, and ox bones, making them quite rare!

Let’s look at some other rare vintage straight razor models and their sky-high prices:

Antique Straight RazorsKey Features Average Costs
H. Boker & Co. 1893 Columbian Exposition Chicago Straight RazorSpecially made for the World’s Columbian Exposition$200 – $500
Wade & Butcher The Celebrated Straight Razor with Case Original Case with embossed brand name & “The Celebrated” carved on the blade$400 – $500
Filarmonica Sub Cero 14 Straight Razor with Blue Handle & Original Case Handmade razors originated in Spain$300 – $400
Thiers-Issard Spartacus 6/8″ Round TipMade with Carbonsong Steel blade and black synthetic scales$100 – $200 

7. Original Cases

Straight Razor

Vintage straight razors with original cases are much more precious than the ones with new, polished cases or, for that matter, with no cases. So, if your straight razor has an original case, you can increase the price by $50 – $100.

Also, review the case’s condition. If the case has slight wear and tear but clear branding marks and logos, you can expect good returns. But if the case is old and torn with faded branding, it will lose its value by a few, $30 – $80 dollars!

What do the numbers mean on a vintage straight razor?

Some brands crave the model or serial numbers on the vintage straight razor, which can help trace its age. You can find serial numbers engraved on the shank or the blade. Besides, if you see numbers like ⅝, it indicates the width of the blade.

When did barbers stop using straight razors?

Safety razors and electric razors were introduced around the mid-20th century. Since people, especially barbers, found them more efficient and safer, they eventually stopped using straight razors after the 1950s.

Is it worth restoring antique straight razors?

If your old straight razor has a lot of rust, chips, and cracks on the blades and a warped handle, it may not fetch good returns as it is. So, it’s better to get it restored. In fact, some restored branded straight razors are priced more than the same original, old model.

Be it small tools like straight razors and screwdrivers or outdoor tools like shovels and pliers, there’s no doubt that humans have always worked towards development. Although it gives us much more efficient tools to work with, the old ones are a gem for avid collectors!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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