I have written on here before about the Gillette Super Speed razors, but mainly the Flare Tip version that was available from 1954 to 1966 and its short lived Red Tip (aggressive) and Blue Tip (mild) derivatives that were available from 1955 to 1959. These are excellent razors with Twist to Open (TTO) mechanisms and they are part of the bedrock of the real shaving movement today.
However they were preceded by a model which is known as the 1940s Super Speed. This was made in small quantities during World War 2, from 1942 to 1945 and production was ramped up in 1946 and kept going till 1954. Interestingly this was one of the razors that saw the introduction of date codes, stamped on the bottom of the razor head, from the third quarter of 1950. These codes run from 1 to 4 for the quarter of production and have a letter for the year. 1950 was V, 1951 was W and 1952 was X, which is of interest to me because an X3 Gillette razor would be my birth razor.
There were two anomalies of 1940s Super Speed production. The first was that when they replaced the standard nickel plating with gold plating they renamed the razor. It became the Milord. The second was the effects of the Korean war. This used up immense quantities of brass for making artillery shells, to such an extent that there was a strategic shortage of brass in 1951 and 1952 which was the worst that America had ever seen. This hit Gillette especially as their razors were mostly nickel plated brass, so they were forced to adapt to the circumstances.
This is what led to the Black Tip Super Speed, which was only made for these two years. It was made with either a steel handle (the only steel handled razor that Gillette ever made in the USA) or an aluminium handle. On both of these versions the TTO knob at the bottom of the handle was made from black plastic (unlike the later Red Tip and Blue Tip models which had painted metal TTO knobs).
Despite their comparative rarity, interesting history and the fact that they are one of the best shavers Gillette ever made these razors still sell for comparatively low prices. They just aren’t in fashion, which suited me down to the ground when I went hunting for my X3 birth razor Black Tip on eBay. The one I found is a steel handled version in immaculate, almost unused, condition and it cost me just $7.99 (£4.93) and like most of my vintage Gillettes it crossed the Atlantic in a jiffy bag.
B2 Super Speed Red Tip 1956
J4 Super Speed Flare Tip 1964
C1 Super Speed Blue Tip 1957
No code Milord
No code 1940s Super Speed
X3 Super Speed Black Tip 1952
Both the “no code” razors have a notched centre bar so are 1948 or later.