Razor Strops with a Story to Tell
We recently inherited three antique straight razor strops once belonging to our Great Grandfather. A man who inspires us everyday, and in everything we do. As both individuals, and a business, with true appreciation for high quality American Made goods, we're pretty darn excited to have received such meaningful artifacts.
The first strop, made by Koken B.S. Co, appears to have been made in St. Louis, Missouri.
What we've come to know about Koken:
Ernest Koken, a German immigrant, started his business at the ripe old age of 19, a true entrepreneur. His early days involved producing and distributing hand-painted shaving mugs. During this era, it was common for patrons to leave a personalized shaving mug with their barber of choice, that only they would use-- more than likely for sanitary reasons. These mugs were usually displayed on the wall behind the barber chairs, and not only did they carry the name of the patron, but sometimes a symbol, suggesting his profession.
Koken later went on to produce barber chairs (sometime around 1880). It is believed that the Koken chair was the first to come with an attached head and foot rest. And at one point, a patent was held for the reclining barber chair. [Source]
Koken began producing and distributing wholesale catalogs in 1888. At this point, the company sold hundreds of grooming products. It is said that this catalog contained nearly every type of equipment and product needed by the most up-to-date barber shops (including razor strops, like the ones pictured below). [Source]
Now, we are no historians, but it seams this strop dates back to the late 1800's.
The other two strops carry the name H. Sears & Sons, but there isn't much information to be gathered. At least not according to Google. As suggested on the Badger and Blade shaving forum, H. Sears & Sons began as importers and manufacturers of fine quality firearms, later adding a cutlery division. They went out of business around 1893, which makes these strops at least 120 years old. But again, we don't claim to be historians. The company was founded in Chicago under the name H. Sears MFG Co, sometime around the end of the Civil War.
Again, we weren't able to find a ton of information about these two companies. But the information we did find makes us even more excited to have these historic items on hand, and available for display. It makes our appreciation for quality, American Made craftsmanship that much stronger when we see items that were built over 100 years ago-- still in one piece. And that with a little work, can once again, help keep a clean shave.
We believe Bison Made Razor Shops will also stand the test of time; lasting multiple generations. Made in Phoenix, Az, from some of the finest leathers in the world (including Horween), these strops are destine to become heirlooms. And one day, when your Great Grandson receives the hand-me-down-- just like us, he's going to think it's just about the coolest thing in the world.
We must make claim: We were able to determine the above information after limited research. We do not know how credible (and accurate) the information is. If you know anything about either of these brands, please share. We would love to hear from you.