Edwin’s Razor–Angelina Brown (December 1901)

An enjoyable humorous article listing lots of alternative uses for a (straight) razor, which I imagine was a treasured part of a man’s toiletry in Edwardian times, given how much more prevalent beards were then. None of the uses listed in this article are recommended!



When Edwin went away from home a few weeks ago, leaving what he calls his “pet” razor behind him, I for the first time grasped the beneficent wisdom of Nature in growing whiskers on men’s faces.

For me, a young wife, that razor smoothed the way out of many difficulties, and helped me to realize that the family cutlery-case is stale, flat, and unprofitable when certain little household duties requiring a really sharp instrument are to be successfully carried out.

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It was by the merest accident that I discovered the virtues of a razor. I wanted to cut some buttons off one of baby’s garments. The razor was lying upon the dressing-table, and there was nothing else handy, so I used it for the purpose named, and with such success that I determined in future to use it whenever I could in preference to a pair of scissors or an ordinary penknife. I was simply charmed with it. The buttons seemed to fall off as if by magic when I put the least pressure on the razor.

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Next day I was busy preparing to make some marmalade, when the thought struck me: “Why not use Eddie’s razor to slice the fruit?” I can never feel thankful enough for the inspiration. The time saved in the slicing of the oranges and lemons was wonderful. Hours at least! I strongly advise every wife who would make satisfactory marmalade, with the fruit in nice, thin shavings, to use her husband’s razor for the purpose. The marmalade is always ever so much nicer than when an ordinary table-knife is used.

The same afternoon I happened to be in the box-room. For a long time I had been hoping to spare the necessary hour or two in which to scrape off the dirty old Continental labels which had remained on Eddie’s and my own boxes since our happy, happy honeymoon. You know how these nasty labels disfigure nice and otherwise unsoiled travelling chests and portmanteaus? Which was the best way of removing them? Like a message from Heaven came the idea to my brain: “Eddie’s razor!”

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Soon the paper shavings were flying in all directions about the room. It was so nice and pleasant just to place the sharp edge of the razor beneath the side of each label, and then with a brisk whisk to, as it were, shave the label from the box. Some of those labels, I confess, were so tightly fixed to the canvas and leather that I had in a few cases to use a good deal of force in cutting them away, but Eddie’s razor robbed the job of half its tiresomeness, and presently our beautiful boxes and portmanteaus were quite free from the ugly, dirty bits of coloured paper, which were always an eyesore to me when I entered our little box-room.

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Another thing which I should advise young and old wives to do. When you want a pencil sharpened, don’t use your penknife–that is nearly always blunt, and one can’t sharpen a pencil properly with a blunt knife. During Eddie’s absence from home I never used anything else but his razor when I wanted a pencil very sharp and smoothly pointed. It was quite a pleasure to use that pencil, I assure you. Mrs. Williams, my neighbour, was so charmed with my pencil on an occasion which arose when we were enjoying afternoon tea in my drawing-room, that I insisted on sharpening her own pencil with Eddie’s razor, and she was ever so grateful.

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As for cutting geranium-slips! You might search the wide world over and you could not possibly have a better thing for cutting geranium-slips than your husband’s razor! It was quite a pleasure, I assure you, to get hold of a big geranium in my left hand, and with Eddie’s “pet” razor in my right hand lop off cutting after cutting. Not the slightest exertion seemed necessary, the blade of the razor went through the stalks just as though they were warm butter. And in the same way I found the razor a most admirable thing for chopping up the mould to make it nice and fine before transplanting the slips into it. I feel positive that, owing to being so cleanly slipped and with the mould so beautifully fine, our geraniums next year will be bound to surpass anything ever seen before in this neighbourhood.

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How I got hold of the excellent idea of chopping up the mould with Eddie’s pet razor was this: A few days previously I was rather hurried in preparing the pudding for dinner. I always make the sweets myself, as servants are not always to be trusted at such work; and I found the knife I was using in cutting up the suet, etc., rather blunt. Of course, I thought of Eddie’s razor immediately, and, getting hold of that, I made short work of the suet. I was most careful, when it had done what I required of it, to wipe the grease from it and give it a rub on the knife-board.

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For cutting up old clothes, or re-making a skirt, I find nothing can beat Eddie’s razor. You simply take the skirt in one hand, with the seams running in a line from between the finger and thumb. Take the razor and place its edge on the seam to be divided. The cloth will almost seem to separate of its own accord, and you will be saved an immense amount of time and trouble.

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One day I was out shopping and, the rain coming on unexpectedly, my patent leather shoes became caked with mud. Could I trust such a delicate operation as the removal of caked mud from my beautiful patent leather shoes to Mary Anne? Certainly not! Eddie’s razor acted superbly in saving my shoes from disaster, and I was enabled, through its aid, to preserve the polish intact. I am persuaded that nothing can beat a razor as a remover of mud from boots. Its sharpness, no matter how caked the mud may be, enables one to shave the stuff cleanly away, especially from the soles and heels.

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On the evening preceding the day on which my dearest Edwin returned home we had tinned peaches and, amongst other things, sardines, for supper. What do you think happened? Mary Anne, the stupid girl, had mislaid the can-opener; nor could it be found, although a thorough search was instituted immediately; it looked as if our supper would have to be postponed indefinitely when–I thought of Eddie’s razor!

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It saved the situation! Running upstairs, I carried it, the most useful of all household chattels, back to the dining-room in triumph, and found not the slightest difficulty in opening both the peach-can and the sardine-tin. I assure you, I enjoyed my supper all the more in consequence of my success. As for Mary Anne, the poor, stupid creature seemed positively delighted, and did not cease to grin during the remainder of the evening. The lower classes have really very little resource when they find themselves in a sudden or unexpected difficulty. Being tidy, if anything, I always took pains to replace dear Edwin’s razor in its case on the dressing-table.

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The morning following his return I noticed him examining the razor, with a rather strange expression on his face. I was so glad, for it gave me an opportunity of explaining to him how useful I had found it whilst he was away.

He seemed astounded. I suppose the silly boy thought that a razor was only fit for one thing–shaving his whiskers, and was so surprised at my proving the opposite that he could find no words to express his thoughts.

But afterwards, when I had left the room, I thought I heard him utter quite a torrent of words. Since he returned I have not been able to continue the use of the razor. I rather fancy he locks his dressing-case every morning now.

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