Simpson ’41’ – the beginning of the butterscotch brushes

A long time ago in a land far away …

OK, well maybe not THAT long ago, it was only five years or so ago that I saw this nondescript shaving brush on a large online auction site.

The description was vague and as you can see, the photo was of little help.  I was pretty certain though that it was a vintage, butterscotch Simpson shaving brush.  I took a punt a put a modest bid on – and won!  My first, vintage butterscotch brush 🙂

The butterscotch colour is the result of many years of UV radiation converted the outside, exposed layer of the catalin the handle is made of to phenyl alcohol with that distinct colour.  The butterscotch brushes generally started life as a sort of cream, imitation ivory.

Not only was it a nice, butterscotch coloured brush, when you turned it over it had a label.

In fact, that label looked familiar. I had not only a butterscotch coloured brush, but a vintage Simpson!  Simpson brushes have a long and proud history, since 1919.  The engraved lampe black markings are of the number ’41’ and ‘Pure Badger’ with the same written on the end of the box it came in.

After doing some research across some shaving forums one of teh descendents of the original Simpson family, Gary Young, responded to my questions about this brush at The Shaving Room. Here is what he said:

‘1950s Nimmer Mill made Simpson 40 series brush. And yep, Peter is right that it isn’t one of our old ‘top end’ brushes. Back in the 50s a lot of the 40 series were sold in quantity to the ‘high street’ chemists – eg. Boots.

This looks like it was a ‘private’ sale as the ‘high street’ models were lampblacked with the Boots logo of the day.

The badger hair has ‘bleached’ over the years – normally due to being left on a bathroom window. But, as with our own hair, it tends to ‘whiten’ out over time, especially the coarser pure grade.

Nice little brush from one of our most busy decades so I reckon you had a good little find there.’

I was very chuffed!

Unfortunately the knot was really not in great shape after being sun-bleached.  So I sent the brush off to Simpson for a reknot, in ‘Pure’.  The brush, with a new lease of life, remains in my regular rotation today!