History of Wet Shaving: Thiers-Issard

A Master Craftsman

It took nearly a quarter century of apprenticeship for Frenchman Pierre Thiers to found Thiers-Issard, one of the most respected cutlery and straight razor manufacturers in the world. Thiers began apprenticing in blacksmithing at the young age of 10, working 6 days a week and delivering as many as 10,000 hammer blows in a single day’s work. The rigorous daily exertion helped Thiers develop into a strongman –  he was known to carry one 168-lb. sack under each arm.

In 1884 at the age of 24, he had mastered the art well enough to establish his own forge, soon carving out a name for himself. He named his company Thiers-Issard, adding his wife’s family name, Issard, to differentiate himself from other family members who were also razor makers.

Thiers held the reins at his company from 1884 to 1929, when he passed away at age 69, fittingly while working at his forge.

The first trademark for Thiers-Issard, 1889. Via Straight Razor Place

Passing Down Tradition

After Pierre Thiers’ death, his wife and son, Pierre Thiers Jr., continued the family business. Pierre Thiers Jr. had apprenticed under the senior Pierre and became a master forger in his own right. Later, Louis Thiers took over the company, and he was joined by yet another Pierre Thiers.

After economic troubles, the Thiers family sold the business to Gilles Reynewaeter in 1985. Gilles was a blacksmith who made knives near Thiers-Issard.

Thiers with his wife.

From Cutlery to Straight Razors

Pierre Thiers actually began his career by producing high quality cutlery, coveted by discerning connoisseurs. Over the years, Thiers-Issard acquired a maker of Sabatier kitchen knives as well as makers of catering and butchering equipment, enhancing its range.

While Thiers-Issard had always created straight razors, it only accounted for 3% of what the company made until the mid-2000s. Gilles Reynewaeter saw the increasing interest in traditional wet shaving, so he began refining production techniques, employing modern technology while still preserving artistry.

A few modifications you’ll find on newer Thiers-Issard razors: sculpted razor backs in beautiful patterns, gold leafing with a much more permanent 24K deposit, and the use of Sheffield silver steel for enhanced solidity and longer cutting edge life. Reynewaeter also introduced new handles, made from luxurious materials like ox bone, wood, and ivory.

What hasn’t changed is Reynewaeter’s commitment to never compromising craftsmanship and quality. Each razor is ground and tempered to exacting specifications, producing a piece that’s meant to be passed down the generations. If you’re lucky, you own one of Thiers-Issard’s legendary singing steel razors, which give you delightful auditory feedback while you shave.

Find out more on Thiers-Issard’s website, and shop Thiers-Issard at RoyalShave.

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