Some “British” shaving brush brands

Britain is the home of the classic shaving brush. Even today there are a lot of brands that have survived the lean years when horrible aerosol lathers nearly killed them off. I have put the word British in inverted commas for two reasons. Firstly because by far the biggest manufacturer of these brushes is Progress Vulfix who are on the Isle of Man in the middle of the Irish sea, which is not part of Great Britain. Secondly because a lot of what goes into these brushes nowadays is Chinese.

All the badger hair in all the British brushes comes from China. It is still from Meles meles, the same badger that we have in Europe. In China this animal is vermin which is culled annually and the meat is eaten whilst the hair goes to the brush industry. Whereas in Europe the badger is protected, though there is probably going to be a cull in Wales early next year as a measure against tuberculosis. The Chinese don’t just sell the hair, they take advantage of their cheap labour to make the hair up into knots, in fact the vast majority of all badger knots are now made in China, some by hand and some machine made. And of course the Chinese make the handles, some by moulding and some by machining.

So we have the situation where it is possible to buy a knot and a handle from China, glue them together in Britain and then write “Made in England” on the brush!

Here are some of the brands:

Body Shop.
Bonds of Oxford Street. A London tobacconist who sells a lot on eBay offer the Vulfix range of brushes with their own name printed on them. You can buy the same brushes elsewhere for less.
Coate’s. The Brush company was founded in London in 1875. They shared premises in Somerset with Simpson’s from 1941 and amalgamated with them in 1990. Nowadays more famous for their shaving soaps but you can still buy new old stock Coate’s Fitzwilliam brushes made by Simpson’s which look very nice indeed.
Culmak.
Cyril R Salter.
D.R. Harris.
Edwin Jagger.
Floris.
Geo. F. Trumper
Kent
Kingsley
Mason Pearson
Men-U
Morris & Forndran
New Forest
Pecksniff’s
Penhaligon’s
Rooney
Simpson
Taylor of Old Bond Street
Truefitt & Hill
Vulfix
Woods of Windsor

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11 comments ↓

#1 Nick on 12.30.12 at 6:08 pm

A very interesting article Bruce, I recently got myself a Bluebeards Revenge badger brush for Christmas, and from what I’ve read, are made by Vulfix. It’s lovely and soft and will hopefully last me a long time to come.

#2 T. Webb on 01.01.13 at 7:49 pm

Don’t forget horse hair brushes! I got one this past year… it’s a bit stronger than my badger, but still nice and soft. Indeed, I haven’t used my badger for six months now!

#3 Matt on 01.07.13 at 7:43 pm

It’s great to see you posting again! Keep up the great work- very informative!

#4 Fido on 01.18.13 at 9:31 pm

Hi Bruce

New Forest brush heads are made by hand to my specification in China. Handles are individually made on a lathe and shaped by hand tools in my New Forest workshop two miles from Sway. Would be cheaper made by CNC machines and drum polished and be more blemish free. But my customers prefer something truly made the old fashioned way. But to each their own.

#5 Phil on 03.31.13 at 8:56 am

I find it quite sad that the world has gone into the direction that you can manifacture in a cheap labour country, and then assemble it somewhere and print “made in XY” on it. Still, the shave brushes that I own are of very nice quality as far as I can tell, so it is not all that bad.
Also, are boar and horsehair brushes also only made in China? Haven’t found a lot of information about that unfortunately.

#6 Anon on 04.12.13 at 5:32 am

Thanks for your Blog about Shaving.

I recvently found a business called http://www.aussieshave.com (Aussie Shave) that allows you to make low price subscriptions so that cheap high quality razor’s will arrive to your door step each month so you don’t have to worry about buying them! It’s something that annoys me, I figured you might be interested since this is a shaving blog :)

#7 dave on 04.14.13 at 2:52 pm

Badgers killed specifically for their hair, for shaving brushes, nasty: http://www.badger.org.uk/_Attachments/Resources/284_S4.pdf

#8 Eddie Olavarria on 04.15.13 at 6:01 pm

Great stuff, I am a big fan of wet shaving…

#9 octopus on 07.26.13 at 10:22 pm

Really good articles here. Have you stopped updating the blog?

#10 sharma on 10.29.13 at 7:45 am

Hey bruce i am absolutely frustrated in my search for a DE razor in India. I had my eyes on parker Barber Straight SR1
but i am unable to find their contact info on the net in spite of living in Delhi. I would really appreciate if u could mail me their address or suggest an alternative available here.

#11 Perrin on 11.06.13 at 5:46 pm

Personally, I love Simpsons brushes. They are super high quality without breaking the bank. Rooney makes fantastic brushes as well.

I really do believe, though, that a good brush should be one of the centerpieces of your shaving kit. It’s worth the money :)

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