In this article we will look at some of the specific Simpson’s models. It is a vast range to encompass just about anything that any shaver could ever want. There are three hair grades, in ascending price: Pure Badger “A coarser, darker hair of medium to short length” Best Badger “Hair varying from long to medium length with a soft darker creamy tip” and Super Badger “A long hair with a soft creamy white tip. The ultimate in shaving sensation”. Also in smaller numbers they make “Two Band” Super badger brushes. It is important to realise that more expensive does not mean better for the job that you want it to do.
There are over 20 models of brush, many of them come in several sizes and many come with different hair choices. So you could shave for a few months with Simpson’s brushes without using the same brush twice. Remember that these Brushes are individually handmade by skilled craftsmen, so no two are identical. Where I give dimensions they are very approximate. Loft is the length of the hairs from the handle to the tip, knot is the diameter of the bundle of hairs at the point that they enter the handle.
Also remember that bigger isn’t better. Whilst a large brush will lather you up more quickly a smaller brush will be more precise about where the lather goes and gives you more control over the consistency of that lather.
Chubby. This big squat brush is the king of the castle. Simpson’s themselves say “The Chubby has been acknowledged as the finest Shaving Brush available in the world today” and they are not wrong. It is available in Best or Super and in three sizes. The knots are 23mm, 27mm and 29mm respectively, with a loft of 47mm, 50mm and 56mm. The middle size, the CH2, is more than enough brush for anyone. The CH3 is massive.
Persian Jar. This supremely elegant smaller shape has attracted a significant following. Once again it comes in Best or Super and in three sizes. The knots are 19mm 23mm and 25mm.
Polo. A monster of a brush and extremely popular. In Best or Super it comes in four sizes, PL8, 10, 12 and 14. Some retailers don’t bother with the last two sizes, they are so big and expensive. The PL14 has an overall height of 145mm and costs nearly £300! Even the PL10 has a 23mm knot.
Major. Travel brush designed for the Himalayan explorer Major Victor Beeching. The brush screws into an open ended tube protecting it and allowing it to breathe in a wet pack. This is a beautiful piece of kit, the best travel brush available anywhere and it is, rightly, very popular. It is only in one size but can be filled with either Best or Super.
Emperor. This traditional smaller brush was once made in Ivory. It is now available filled only with Super hair and in three sizes.
Tulip. The shape is in the name. Another very traditional brush once made from Ivory and only available with a Super knot, the Tulip comes in four sizes.
Wee Scot. The smallest Simpson’s brush, with a 14mm knot and a 36mm loft, this only comes in Best badger. This tiny brush is relatively inexpensive for a Simpson’s brush and, interestingly, is the only brush that carries Alexander Simpson’s signature. A must for every shaving enthusiast’s collection.
Case. This excellent small brush only comes in one size (19mm knot 42mm loft) with good reason and that is because it is designed to fit into a travel tube. It is available in Pure and Best and is considerably cheaper than Simpson’s other travel brush, the Major, because it is less complicated to make.
Milk Churn. A unique shape inspired by the dairy industry in Somerset, where Simpson’s were based for so many years, this brush is available only in one size and only filled with Best badger. The knot is 21mm and the loft 51mm.
Keyhole. Another unique Simpson’s brush where the name describes the shape, the Keyhole is only available in Best badger, but it comes in four sizes with knots of 19,20,21 and 22mm.
Colonel. Military shaving brush. So that means only one size and filled only with Best badger. The 22mm knot and 46mm loft make this an excellent “standard” brush which is good value. There is also the Ehsan, a limited production Colonel in two band Super badger.
Beaufort. What a nice long handled brush and in six sizes so you can get the one that exactly suits you. (The 20mm knot comes in three choices of loft, for instance) Only made in pure badger this gives you a lot of hand made brush for your money.
Special. The best value Simpson’s brush. Only one size (19mm knot 40mm loft) but available in Pure or Best badger. The Pure can be bought for just £13.80 which, quite frankly, is silly for a hand made prestige product.
There are plenty more: Berkeley, Eagle, Fifty, Classic, Duke, Astor, Emperor, Commodore, Harvard and Sampson. All famous designs and all different. You can see most of them on Simpson’s own website.
And where do you buy your Simpson brushes from? In the UK Diamond Edge have a full range at good prices and you can get a further discount by joining The Shaving Room online community, in America there are a number of enthusiastic retailers. Try Shoebox Shaveshop The Superior Shave or Em’s Place.