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.

Grooming Artist News Roundup: May 2017

Wet shaving is an ancient art – we’re talking as far back as 30,000 BC, when the ancient Egyptians used flint blades to scrape their faces. So it’s only fitting to pay tribute to this tradition with some wet shaving history lessons. The Star digs deep into Sheffield, England’s long history of straight razor manufacturing, while we offer a history on the evolution of Proraso.

Moving forward to present day, there’s exciting news in the barbering world, with the first female barber ever to win the title of Welsh Champion of the Wet Shave. And with spring vacation on the horizon for many of us, we’ve included tips how to dress for any destination.

We polish off this month’s Grooming Artist Roundup with grooming tips for keeping your skin healthy and your shaving brushes performing optimally.

Enjoy!

A history lesson on Sheffield razors. (The Star)

Barber Sophie Collins is the first woman to win the title of Welsh Champion of the Wet Shave, and goes on to compete for the British title at Barber UK this month. (Daily Post)

How to travel in style for every kind of getaway this spring. (MR PORTER)

A quick guide to exfoliating: the secret tool to better skin and a better shave. (GQ)

Shaving tips for sensitive skin. (Men’s Journal)

Are you a fan of Proraso? Then be sure to read our history of the popular Italian brand. (Grooming Artist)

How to care for your shaving brush so it lasts a lifetime – or longer. (Grooming Artist)

The Top 7 Bestsellers of 2016

It’s coming on the end of the year, and we feel it appropriate to share a “Best Of” list to celebrate. With the immense growth of the men’s grooming industry, there are new products being released all the time, vying at our attention. However, there are certain tools that persist – whether it’s the blade that gets you the perfect shave or the safety razor that weaned you off cartridge shaving for good.

Every year, we take a look back on the wet shaving essentials that you loved most. The following seven items are our bestsellers of 2016. Take a gander, gain a few tips from the reviews, and perhaps discover your next standby.

30 Degree 320 Silvertip Badger Shaving Brush – Black Resin

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Features

  • Soft silvertip badger hair with superb water retention
  • Smaller knot for optimal precision and control
  • Bulbous loft for easier lathering in shave bowls and mugs

Customer review

“This is a good brush that produces a great lather. Great deal for the money.”

-Rod

SHOP: 30 Degree 320 Silvertip Badger Shaving Brush – Black Resin 

Merkur Super Platinum Stainless Blades, 10 Blades

 

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Features

  • Platinum-coated stainless steel
  • Excellent starter blade for men with light to medium beards

Customer review

“Makes my Merkur 34C sparkle in the morning. Gives my wife a great cheek to cheek.”

-Larry J.

SHOP: Merkur Super Platinum Stainless Blades, 10 Blades 

Merkur 34C HD Classic Safety Razor – Polished Chrome Finish

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Features

  • Midweight construction for just enough pressure
  • Stubby handle for better grip
  • Two-piece, closed comb construction

Customer review

“This is my first safety razor. I tried the Merkur blade that came with it and was so impressed at how mild yet effective the razor was. I was very nervous the first time. No nicks but the closest, smoothest shave ever in over 30 years of shaving.”

SHOP: Merkur 34C HD Classic Safety Razor – Polished Chrome Finish 

Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl

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Features

  • Glycerin-based for slickness and glide
  • Coconut acid for a rich lather
  • Available in a dozen scents

Customer review

“This is the best shave cream that money can buy. There is no burning or drying your skin out. It bathes you skin in comfort, and the Sandalwood scent is the best I have ever smelled.”

-Jerry B.

SHOP: Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Shaving Cream Bowl 

Edwin Jagger DE89L Double Edge Safety Razor with Lined Handle

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Features

  • Three-piece, closed comb construction
  • Chrome-plated for enhanced rust resistance
  • Fluted handle for a secure grip

Customer review

“This is a pretty amazing razor at a very economical price. Fantastic option for new DE shavers who want a superior razor but don’t want to spend a lot upfront. Very impressive build quality and materials. Weight is just right. And the longer handle is a great choice for those transitioning from cartridge and disposables. It will feel very familiar. At this price, you can’t go wrong. Actually, you’ll be pretty amazed at how much razor you get for just $32.”

-Kenstee

SHOP: Edwin Jagger DE89L Double Edge Safety Razor with Lined Handle

Dovo Best Quality 5/8″ Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor – Black Celluloid

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Features

  • Stiffer, more forgiving half hollow Swedish blade
  • Top and bottom tang jimps for enhanced grip
  • Durable celluloid scales

Customer review

“Nice Straight Razor. Smooth Dovo quality clearly felt in this razor, great first razor to jump into straight razor shaving. There are better Dovo razors but this is a great starter for the price and quality. It will last forever and be a great travel razor when you upgrade.”

-Michael L.

SHOP: Dovo Best Quality 5/8″ Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor – Black Celluloid 

Proraso Shave Soap Jar – Green, Refreshing and Toning

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Features

  • Coconut oil for enhanced slickness
  • Glycerin-based formula keeps skin soft
  • Soothing menthol scent

Customer review

“I purchased the Proraso Hard shaving cream as part of a straight razor starter kit. When Opened the Proraso hard shaving cream bowl, I could immediately smell the refreshing scents of menthol and eucalyptus. This cream lathers up very thick with little effort. The cream not only applies to my skin very nicely ( I recommend a badger brush), but it also doesn’t bubble out like a lot of other creams out there. After I use the shaving cream my skin is super soft. I will only use this cream from now on.”

-Jason

SHOP: Proraso Shave Soap Jar – Green, Refreshing and Toning

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Our Favorite Posts of 2016

As we head into the end of the year, we wanted to look back on some of the highlights of 2016 on The Grooming Artist.

We brought you behind the scenes of two of the most respected names in wet shaving: Truefitt & Hill and Edwin Jagger. We also gave due coverage to the ever-expanding group of wet shavers who have taken their craft to Instagram, inspiring us with their beautifully composed #SOTD (Shave of the Day) setups, reviews, and tips. The traditional shaving community on Instagram is strong, and we plan to explore this scene further in the upcoming year.

From our archives, we also pulled out a couple of our favorite “how to” posts, from How to Clean Your DE Razor to How to Use the 3 Razor Shaving Method.

Give these posts a gander if you’re looking for some reading material during your holiday break.

All of us at RoyalShave hope you have a season filled with warmth, comfort, and good cheer!

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Our interviews with…

Truefitt & Hill

Edwin Jagger

Captain’s Choice

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Tips on how to…

Avoid 5 common wet shaving mistakes

Clean your DE razor

Use the 3-Razor shaving method for a close shave that’s gentle on sensitive skin

Care for a leather strop

Get lather from Geo. F. Trumper Hard Shaving Soap

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Our favorite Instagram accounts for…

#SOTD (Shave of the Day) inspiration

Wet shaving tips and tricks

Young barber applying a hot towel on a client's face before giving him a shave

Some miscellaneous…

How to DIY a barbershop hot towel at home

The long, royal history of Truefitt & Hill

Is a synthetic fiber brush worth your time?

Wedge straight razors vs. hollow straight razors: a comparison

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