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!

State of My Collection - 2014

After acquiring my first razor in 2010 I quickly started acquiring a ‘few’ more! 🙂

To give you a sense of the scale of the collection when I ceased actively collecting a couple of years ago you can check out the slideshows of images of the collection below.

(Unfortunately the host shut down)

One Razor's Story

I was in an antique store in Adelaide a few years ago and spotted a Bostonian case with some engraving on the top.


Engraved Bostonian Exterior
Engraved Bostonian Exterior

Now I have a Bostonian and if it wasn't for the engraving I may not have even picked it up.

But as you can see it was engraved as follows:

'Presented to C. J. Harding Best & Fairest Player for S.A v N.S.W. Jubilee Oval Aug 17th 1929'

A mystery to be solved - who was C. J. Harding and what was he the best and fairest player for?

After doing some research I discovered that according to an article in the August 17 1929 issue of The Register news-pictorial an interstate soccer match was held on that day at the Jubilee Oval in Adelaide between SA and NSW for the Australian Junior championship.

The match report from that evening’s issue of The Mail indicates that ‘an excellent exhibition of soccer was witnessed’ with NSW the victors 3 goals to 2. The Advertiser carries a picture of the game.

Engraved Bostonian Interior
Engraved Bostonian Interior

According to the report in The Mail, Harding scored the first goal for South Australia and ‘Harding was playing good football for South Australia, but his inside men failed to take advantage of his centres’. It seems that he was in the thick of it because it is also reported that ‘Harding was unlucky not to score from a hard drive across the goalmouth’.

So the mystery is cleared up.

The report concludes by indicating that ‘Trophies given for the best player on each side were won by Harding (South Australia) and Boddan (New South Wales)’.

Engraved Bostonian Interior
Engraved Bostonian Interior

After I posted this information in a shaving forum another member turned up the following from the Adelaide Advertiser of 25 Sept 1941:



Advice has been received by the wife of C. J. Harding that he died of wounds on September 20. He was married to Audrey, only child of Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Rush, of O.G. Hotel, Klemzig, on October 17, 1940, two months before he sailed for overseas. He was the only son of Mr. J. G. and the late Mrs. Harding, of Gilberton, and was educated at Pulteney Grammar School. He was a keen Soccer player, and before he enlisted was employed by News Ltd.

Follow this link for the original article.

Of course this begged the question - was this the same C. J. Harding? The age seemed about right and he was described as being 'a keen Soccer player'.  It might have been written off a co-incidence except I recalled this this article which is from The Advertiser on the day before the 1929 game which outlined the teams, including:

'C. Harding (Pulteney Old Scholars) has had experience in senior league football and is the best wing man playing junior soccer to-day. He is fast, and his ball control and shooting make him a most useful man'

So with the school connection confirmed the C. J. Harding presented with the razor is almost certainly the same man who died of his wounds in September 1941.  A little further digging turns up his military history.

Engraved Bostonian Detail
Engraved Bostonian Detail

Private Charles James Harding served with the 2/48th Battalion (Infantry) and was at Tobruk when he was wounded in action on 13 August 1941.  He died of his wounds on 20 September 1941 in Egypt and is buried there at Alexandria.

You can see a digital version of the records on-line here, on the second page of the records there is even a photo from his enlistment.

So there we have it.  Unfortunately the antique store where I brought this from didn't have any records of how they acquired this razor.  Obviously it never went to war from its condition, he probably left it with his new wife.  What happened to her I don't know.  Did she remarry?  Did she keep this razor until her death as a reminder of her husband?  I'm not sure I'll ever find out.

If you are ever at the Australian War Memorial you can see his entry in the Roll of Honour.  I'll certainly be stopping by next time I'm there and pay my respects.

Thanks to those who contributed to this story - it is much appreciated.