Unique barbershop, shaving items on display at historical society
Glimpses of Yesteryear
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 6:15 AM
Years ago a gent might have opened his bathroom "medicine cabinet" to be greeted by an attractive little Prep jar with the cheery "Good Morning! Prepare your face for a painless shave."
Come see the Archer barber chair on display at the Methodist Church Museum, dated 1880-89.
Its label instructed, "If you have a tough beard, tender skin or sore neck, use Prep. Spread a thin layer on dry beard, do not rub in, lather with favorite soap or cream. Shave. It softens and soothes skin and doubles the life of the blades."
This jar of Prep is only one of a fascinating assortment of shaving items on display at the Methodist Church Museum's lower level. The exhibit begins with the handsome Archer Barber Chair pictured here, dated 1880-89, with its graceful swan-neck hand grips and padded arms. The chair and its footrest are upholstered in elegant maroon velvet and it was used in the barber shop on lower Broadway by Henry Lupien and the McClary brothers. The footrest is a separate piece that can be pulled out to accommodate even the longest legs.
In those days the barber lathered up the man's beard with shaving cream and used the straight edged razor, honed on leather strops. There is also a stone "Satisfaction" razor hone labeled $1 but also "Our price only 23 cents."
One of the straight edge razors came in a long black box manufactured by Novelty Cutlery Co. of Canton, Ohio. "This razor is ground very thin and is highly tempered. It should be handled with great care as it is easily broken and no broken razor will be exchanged."
The Red Imp Wedge single edge razor was "specially tempered" and some razors have sturdy ivory colored handles.
One of the first safety razors that came out by Gillette about 1923 was purchased by Wm. Leibold at the Hamlin & Hawkins Hardware and donated to the society by E. E. Leibold. Also on display, the "Auto-Strop Safety Razor" and the "Ever-Ready Safety Razor." The Valet brand came in a dark green box with the full set - razor, screw-on handle and box of double-edged blades.
The Christie Razor claimed to be "light as a feather." Other blades were available under the names "Gold Crest" and "Twenty Grand, five for ten cents." To keep the blades sharp, there is the "Twin-Plex Stropper" for sharpening used double-edged blades and a Rapid Way Honer for the new blades.
To lather up the beard, one kept shaving soap in shaving mugs. Personalized mugs with one's favorite soap might be kept on the shop shelf by the barber for his regular customers. At one point, Colgate's Cup Soap was available at 35 cents. There are several shaving brushes including the Ever-Ready Badger-hair Brush and a Made-Rite Rare Bristle. L'Apres Shaving Lotion's label indicated it was 35 percent alcohol, 6 ounces for only 10 cents, put out by the Savoy Drug & Chemical Co. of Chicago USA. Used after shaving, "it leaves the skin delightfully refreshed, soothing and healing tender skin."
To continue grooming, two bottles of red Martel's Hair Oil, made in Boston, Mass., "gives the hair luster and makes it stay combed." A few items came from Leo Paul's barber shop - clippers, with its blade guard, for trimming and cutting hair, barber shears and hair brush and combs. Perhaps for women: Tiny "Kewpie" razor and blades. "The dainty way to remove hair - convenient as a lipstick." Blades were five for 25 cents.
A handsome set to keep one's fingernails in great shape includes seven pieces with ivory handles in a velvet case. Once one of our local electricians, George Kaess, donated a black-handled mustache curler. Ah, those dashing dudes with a flair! A mystery item is a fancy-stopped glass jar labeled "Pompeian Massage Cream." Any ideas?
Posted by the barber chair is this information: Henry Lupien opened the Hotel Barber Shop in 1882, with brothers Ona and Doc McClary, in later years Harold's barber shop. When Lupien retired, his son, Kyle, joined the other two barbers. In addition to barbering, Henry Lupien was keenly interested in breeding, raising and training racehorses - trotters, pacers and runners. He was a director of the Spring Valley Driving Park. One of the horses he broke was Spring Valley's famous Nervolo, who broke the world record of 2.04 1/2. Nervolo was later sold for $15,000.
A glance at the 1902 Sears catalog revealed 24" horsehide razor strops for as little as 25 cents; and shaving brushes with boxwood or celluloid handles from 15 to 43 cents. A fancy Bon-Ton Shaving Set included a double-swing strop of horsehide and linen, sturdy brush, decorative mug and cake of Yankee shaving soap - all for $2.75. An entire page was devoted to straight edged razors with a wide variety of fancy handles. Each was warranted, inscribed with Sears' name, running from $1.45 to $2.50.
At the Washburn-Zittleman Historic Home, check out "Dad's shaving shelf" which was donated by Rollin Shipton. It includes a wooden shaving mug, primitive bristle brush, straight edge razor and a bottle of Bay Rum, the after-shave lotion. The leather razor strop could be used in the woodshed to administer a little discipline to a youngster's backside, but perhaps the threat was just as effective. Above the dry sink with its cistern pump, roller towel, water pail and basin, is a very old mirror along with a comb case for complete grooming. Also displayed is a fancy "Valet Auto-Strop Razor, the World's Fastest Shave." Its gleaming case is inscribed "Spring Valley Mercury, Fillmore County's Greatest Newspaper."
The church and house museums, flush with artifacts that tell of Spring Valley's history, remain open Saturdays and Sundays, l0 a.m. to 4 p.m., through October. Stop by, pay your admission and enjoy the day with a guided tour.