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:
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.
Cyril R Salter.
Geo. F. Trumper
Morris & Forndran
Taylor of Old Bond Street
Truefitt & Hill
Woods of Windsor