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.

Our Top 3 Customer-Reviewed Straight Razors

While it’s true that there is no single straight razor that will work for everyone, we can learn and benefit from the experience of our peers. Straight razors, after all, can be quite the investment.

Having been in business for nearly a decade, we have conversed with many a wet shaver, getting feedback and learning about their favorite grooming products.

If you are eyeing a new straight razor, we highly recommend reading the following reviews of our top 3 customer favorite straight razors. Even if you don’t end up with one of them in your shave den, there are veritable nuggets of wisdom to be gleaned from each review.

We wish you the best of luck in finding the perfect straight razor, and remember you can always contact us here for additional guidance.

Dovo Best Quality 5/8” Half 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 reviews

“Before I bought this razor I bought some stainless steel wedge for 10 bucks online just to see if it would work. Obviously it didn’t. So I saved up and bought this one, my first real razor. It’s sharp, easy to hone and strop. It is a comfortable weight and shape, and always does exactly what I want it to. I had never been into straight shaving before but with this razor, a $35 strop, a $12 brush-bowl-soup kit, a Norton 4000/8000 waterstone, and 2 $5 bottles of Nivea for Men Aftershave Balm, I’ve had 2 years of the best shaves of my life. I still consider myself a beginner in the world of honing and wet shaving, but this razor IS the right choice. Also, be careful with it, don’t cut yourself, watch lots of YouTube videos, and don’t put it away wet.”

-Paul

“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” Half Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor – Black Celluloid

Thiers Issard Wheat Field 5/8” Singing Hollow Straight Razor – Ebony

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Features

  • Singing hollow 5/8” carbon steel blade
  • Mirror-finished blade
  • Ebony wood scales

Customer reviews

“I absolutely love this razor. Having previously been using an $80 Dovo, there is no comparison. This blade is extremely sharp and holds its edge very well. The temper is perfect and this blade really does sing. I could not be happier with this purchase.”

-Mark B.

SHOP: Thiers Issard Wheat Field 5/8” Singing Hollow Straight Razor – Ebony

Dovo Special 5/8” Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor – Faux Tortoiseshell

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Features

  • 24k gold etching on a high-carbon Swedish steel blade
  • Full hollow grind
  • Non-slip jimps on the tang

Customer reviews

“I purchased my Dovo ‘Special’ Imitation Tortoiseshell, Full Hollow Carbon Steel, 5/8″ straight razor in 1979 because I was moving to a remote tropical island and did not want to bring anything “disposable” with me.

Together with a badger bristle brush, a strop, and a fine Arkansas stone, this is all I have ever used to shave with in the intervening twenty-three years. The Dovo shaves as well today as it did the first time I ever used it.

Unlike disposables and “safety” razors, I have never once nicked myself with the Dovo and I laugh out loud when I hear celebrities on TV say that their electric razor “shaves as close as a blade!”

I am now fifty-six years old and this Dovo has lasted me half a lifetime and shows no sign of giving out on me, although most of the gold has worn off of the blade and there are a few dark spots on it.

I keep it in a case when I’m not using it, strop it once or twice a week and hone it about once every three or four months. I wish that I could say that I have held up as well over the years as my Dovo razor has!”

-Bob Taylor

“I got this razor shortly after I began with straight shaving. Even though Dovo razors are advertised as shave-ready “out of the box,” I have not found that to be completely accurate. I always make sure a new straight razor I order is hand-honed. With that assumption, this razor is quite good. After some frustrations with my first straight, I ordered this one, hand-honed, and realized what straight shaving was supposed to be like. The faux tortoiseshell scales look distinctive and add to the pleasure of using this razor. Of all my razors, though, this one has proven most prone to rust and is the only new razor I have ever had to use 1200 grit sandpaper on to remove rust. I don’t know why but it’s worth noting: lightly oiling a blade with Ballistol prior to storage is a good idea.”

-Lawson Stone

SHOP: Dovo Special 5/8” Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor – Faux Tortoiseshell

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