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Pair of razors

Pair of razors

  • Place of origin:

    Sheffield (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Revitt, William (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Steel and ivory

  • Museum number:

    M.219:1, 2-2011

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This pair of razors was accompanied by a letter from a fond aunt to her nephew William Harrison. The letter reads:

My dear William,

To the best of my feminine capacity I have chosen a useful case, I hope you will find it so. I can hardly fancy you with any other than the smooth face I remember, but yr Mama tells me you have a goodly pair of whiskers. I do not hear that you have yet followed the Moustache Movement but before long I expect that Law, Physic and Divinity will be breaking down the barrier which custom has so long set up - not so very long either judging from the pictures of George Herbert who of course is an acquaintance of yours, and if you are his acquaintance, you must be also, with yr good taste, his admirer? A happy New Year 1857 to you and the assembled family party is sincerely wished by yr affectionate Aunt.
E. W. Tomlinson

At the time of this letter, beards and moustaches were just beginning to be acceptable. They had been associated with political radicals and artists but were now worn by professional men such as clergymen, lawyers and doctors. A plain but expensive pair of Sheffield razors such as these would have made a very appropriate gift for a young man such as William Harrison who went on to be ordained and finished his career as Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway.

Physical description

Plain ivory scales with silver pin at each end, the pivot pin fixed to a steel blade with a square point from which a small curved section has been removed (known as a 'Sheffield notch'). The blade has been hollow ground.

Place of Origin

Sheffield (made)


ca. 1850 (made)


Revitt, William (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Steel and ivory

Marks and inscriptions

W. Revitt
Corporate mark

Object history note

Found in V&A Metalwork department.

Historical significance: The razors were accompanied by a letter from E.W. Tomlinson to her nephew William Harrison, stating that they were a gift probably for Christmas 1856 and that she hoped that they would be a useful item. William Harrison was a young man of 19 at the time and went on to become a distinguished clergyman. The razors were made by William Revitt, a Sheffield cutler, listed in trade directories from 1819-20.

Descriptive line

Pair of steel razors with ivory scales, manufactured by William Revitt, Sheffield, ca. 1850.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Church, Rachel, "Why Shave?: A New Acquisition of a Pair of mid-19th-Century Razors at the Victoria and Albert Museum", The Journal of the Antique Metalware Society, Vol. 19, June 2011, pp. 46-49, ill. p. 46-47


Steel; Ivory


Accessories; Metalwork

Production Type

Mass produced


Metalwork Collection

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