The Darwin “Standard” razor came out a few years after the “De-Luxe” model. Unlike its big brother, which was made of cobalt steel, the Darwin “Standard” razor was made of simple stainless steel. This was quite a feat for the time, as few brands used both types of steel. The Darwin “Standard” set the bar very high for something called a standard. There are hints of marketing during the 1930s, it appears in advertisements in 1930 in France, and in the 1934 / 1937 catalogue in England, but sources are too few to establish with certainty the exact dates when it was produced. Note that the English catalogue calls another razor “Standard”, which we prefer to call “Adjustable”, to better separate the models.
The excerpt below shows the two-piece “Adjustable” razor in the boxed set attributed to the three-piece “Standard”. This is the only catalogue we know of that mentions both of these models as “Standard”, so we can only use this extract as an illustration.
Nomenclature of Darwin's "Standard" razor
The Darwin “Standard” has had several variants, but we can agree on the following description. It is a three-piece safety razor, using standard double-edge (Gillette type) blades. Unscrewing the handle releases the head, which splits into two halves: the cap and the guard plate. This structure and its less rare steel gave it the name “Standard”, but the quality of its manufacture, as well as the beauty of its presentation, placed this razor at the top of the range wherever it was marketed.
The cap includes the female part of the connecting screw, while the male part is at the end of the handle. The cap also includes two pins that run down into the comb plate, enclosing the blade between the two halves of the head. The cap is usually marked with the Darwin logo and the patent number. Sometimes the logo is double and the patent is missing (read our dedicated article to discover all the nuances).
The guard consists of a straight bar with deep teeth. One cannot really speak of an open comb or a closed comb in the modern sense of the term, as it could fit into both categories.
The handle of the Darwin “Standard” razor has a hexagonal cross-section, with multiple facets and grooves. In addition to its unusual design and material, the Standard handle has another rare feature: the screw to close the head is at the end of the handle, whereas most shavers place it under the cap. The reason for this is not clear, but we believe it was a solution that was easier to manufacture (since it was machined at the same time as the handle) and more durable (the screw being integral with the whole, not crimped into the cap like other models). The bottom of the handle is usually stamped “Made in Sheffield – England” by hand.
Darwin's "Standard" safety razor's different presentations
Darwin’s “Standard” safety razor was marketed either in a purse-style leather pouch, or in a black and blue plastic case.
The leather travel pouch
Made in England, the Darwin leather pouch was made of calf leather. Several colours were already available at the time, including at least black, blue, brown and camel (see opposite).
The rectangular pouch is opened with a push button or a snap button (both variants were found, for no obvious reason). The pouch reveals a cross formation: a central section holding the Darwin Standard razor and its blades, and two pairs of flaps. The razor is disassembled, with leather ties holding each the handle and head of the razor, and a box of safety blades.
The whole was packed in a thin cardboard nesting box, which to our knowledge was unmarked.
We have nowadays reproduced this pouch based on the old models, our catalogue now includes 6 colours of leather cases for safety razors.
Below is an absolutely new and unused Darwin “Standard” razor (New Old Stock) from the 1930s, it had never been used. You can see the polishing marks (black marks in the head) and the stencil marks for acid etching on the cap. It was delivered with two De-Luxe blades. All in its finely textured navy blue leather case.
The blue and black plastic case
The other presentation of the Darwin “Standard” razor was a moulded plastic case, which might look cheap today, but was actually very innovative for its time.
The base of the case is black, and the lid is blue. The hinge of the case is on one small side, and the lid is at an original angle to the base. The influence of art deco style is evident in the design of this case, both in its structure and in the multiple concentric rectangles surrounding the logo.
In the 1930s catalogue, the same case houses a slightly different two-piece shaver, the Darwin “Adjustable”.
Do you own a Darwin razor, but are unsure of its name? Feel free to browse our article on “How to recognise your Darwin razor“.