Slim & Fatboy: How to Buy Vintage Gillette Adjustable Safety Razors

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The Gillette Fatboy has become somewhat of an icon of vintage gillette razors as the original Gillette adjustable safety razor.

That’s pretty impressive considering it was only manufactured for a few short years before it was succeeded by the Gillette Slim.

Find your Gillette adjustable razor at one of these trusted vintage safety razor shops. These are the best places to easily find a Gillette Fatboy for sale.

Why Did They Stop Making Them?

The issue with these razors was that they were just too good. Sales dropped off as they didn’t need replacing and Gillette was a victim of its own success and so they pivoted towards the brand we know today – locking consumers into a cycle of buying a razor handle and then spending a fortune on replacement cartridges.

For safety razor fans, finding one of these original Gillette Fatboy or Gillette slim adjustable safety razors is a joy. They feel like the last examples and the pinnacle of mainstream safety razor use before disposable razors became the norm and the modern pull and cut system of multi-blade razors the new innovation, bringing with it an often poorer shave and higher risk of irritation and razor bumps.

Of course the big perk of safety razors is because they were built to last you can quite easily adopt a vintage safety razor as your own. An old Gillette razor that’s been looked after should still give another lifetime of service.

Fatboy Vs Slim: the Two Gillette Adjustable Safety Razors

The Gillette 195 – popularly known as the Gillette Fatboy – was launched in autumn 1958 and it was only made for only three and a half years until early 1962.

The Gillette Slim adjustable safety razor was launched as an upgrade to the Fatboy in 1961 and continued until late 1968. The Slim was a huge success, no doubt boosted when James Bond played by Sean Connery used a Slim in the 1964 movie Goldfinger.

There’s not much that separates these Gillette adjustable safety razors. Both feature a butterfly safety razor head, meaning twisting the handle opens the head for blade replacement like bomb bay doors.

Both also feature an adjustor knob at the top of the handle that alters the blade gap to change the aggressiveness of the shave. These were early innovations now familiar in adjustable safety razors like the Merkur Futur and Progress. In fact both the Vikings Blade Emperor and Crusader offer a very similar design of butterfly head and high adjustor knob.

To tell them apart the Slim is obviously slightly longer and thinner than the Fatboy – who’d have thought it? But also you should look at the adjustment dial which is situated under the head of the razor. Fatboys only have vertical knurling lines while Slims have vertical and horizontal knurling crossing over.

However the Gillette Fatboy seems more of a holy grail of vintage Gillette adjustable safety razors for some simple reasons. As it was the earlier model produced for a shorter time there were fewer made and so they are rare.

That status leads by quite a small margin and the Gillette Slim has its own cult – especially Slim razors marked J on the base plate which means the razor was made in 1964 with the launch of Goldfinger.

How To Buy A Vintage Gillette Adjustable Safety Razor

You certainyl can hunt out a vintage Gillette adjustable safety razor at an antique shop or flea market. These are the classic kind of items that people don’t know the value of. Grandpa’s razor from the 1960s a prized collectible? Who wants a second-hand razor?

However, there’s no guarantee of success and you may be looking for a long time. When you do find one you then have to evaluate its condition and work out whether a bit of brushing and disinfectant is going to be enough to clean up the safety razor or whether its more of a restoration job.

Gillette adjustable safety razors were chrome-plated brass so that plating is often worn off easily and getting it replated is a specialized job – here’s someone on Etsy who can do it.

Thankfully, there are lots of vintage razor specialists who can always be trusted to have a Gillette Fatboy for sale. They do the hard work on searching, identifying and judging quality while you can just buy the vintage razor you want. Sure, you pay a small finder’s fee but you’ll save a lot of hassle.

In writing this guide we were instantly able to find a 1964 Gillette Slim with the J datestamp at OneStopShaveShop.

Here’s some other reliable vintage razor shops:

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