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Shaving Kit


One in 8.5 Million

Shaving Kit

Before the invention of the disposable double-edged safety razor in 1895, a straight razor was the easiest, most comfortable method of shaving. This pewter scuttle shaving mug held hot water, and the bowl at the top contained a cake of shaving soap, which was lathered using hot water and applied to the face with a brush. Shaving cream and the application of hot water to relax the hairs of the beard allowed for a closer shave. High quality steel razors, such as these, needed to be kept sharp and honed with the razor strap. These straight razors were given to Washington, D.C., hotel proprietor Cyrus Martin by Secretary of War Jefferson Davis in the mid-1850s. Davis later became the president of the Confederate States of America.


The Virginia Historical Society has been collecting since 1831. Included in our unique collection are 8-million processed manuscripts, 200,000 books, 290,000 prints and photographs, and 32,000 museum objects documenting the daily lives and times of all Virginians. The object featured here offers one opportunity to look into the past. Millions more treasures await you at our headquarters in Richmond, by appointment at Virginia House, and online at

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 12/02/2014 12:49 pm

    Reblogged this on Blue Ridge Vintage and commented:
    No Shave November is a thing of the past now, since December has quickly crept upon us. So men (and those ladies taking part, too) break out those rusty shaving kits! The Virginia Historical Society has again found inspiration in their fabulous collections, and included a little blurb and some neat photos on their blog! Check it out 🙂


  2. 02/16/2015 2:51 pm

    What did men in the 19th c. use to stop the bleeding if they cut themselves shaving?


    • 02/27/2015 2:34 pm

      According to Francis Peyre Porcher’s “Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests, Medical, Economical, and Agricultural” (1863), the following is listed among the many remedies for wounds:
      Hypericum perforatum, L. St. John’s-wort. Sparingly naturalized in Confederate States.
      The plant called St. John’s-wort, which I think is Ascyrum cruxandreoe, growing abundantly throughout our country, is popularly regarded as of great value, bruised and applied in the healing of wounds, and as a discutient.
      Wilson states that its leaves and flowers are strongly resiniferous or oleiferous, and emit a powerful odor when rubbed; it bleeds under very slight compression or wounding, and imparts a blood-red color to any spirituous or oleaginous substance with which it is mixed, and was formerly supposed to possess the power of healing wounds, bruises, and contusions.


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