About This Item
IWASAKI 65mm Tamahagane Blade 1508.9 Straight Razor
IWASAKI RAZOR--- Sanjo Seisakujo was established by Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki and his father, Mr. Kousuke Iwasaki who is a very famous researcher as old Japanese sword revival and sword smith. His life is deeply related with Japanese sword and Tamahagane. His life had started to devote Japanese sword right before graduate college until he passed away. His son who is Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki has also devoted razor and cutlery in entering his life. I visited his house in Sanjo, Niigata in May, and he should be around 80 years old, but he has still enthusiasm talking about cutlery and related things. There were Mr. Mizuochi who makes Iwasaki razor right now, and we had talked story many hours, and we talked about the letter T on the straight razor or and some other letters like 3M or 7M. They remind of some of the abbreviation of the letter means, but some of them, they are not able to recall, and we talked the subject as small talk, so I also forgot what the letters meant. What I remember is some of the letters for hardness of the razors like hard or medium hard or soft. Some of them letters are for whom selling to like barber school students or wholesaler names.
Mr. Iwasaki, Kosuke wanted revival old national treasure level of Japanese sword. He had also researched for Tamahagane which the steel is used for Japanese sword that is the purest steel in the world. He wanted to research old national treasure swords, and concealed documentations, so he went to Tokyo University which is NO.1 University in Japan, and he got bachelor degree with literature and he had learned maser course, but he changed mind to get into the major to metallography. He thought that he needed to study metal science field to revive over 700 year old Japanese swords (national treasure class of swords). Eventually, he researched national class of treasure swords and concealed documentations in Shosoin where we are not able to see. He spent three years to study math and others, and he passed the exam, and he went to the same Tokyo University which is NO.1 school in Japan with engineering major in metallography. He got bachelor science degree and master degree with metallography too.
He graduated bachelor in history, and bachelor science and master degrees in metallography. His father was famous cutlery distributor in Sanjo, Niigata, but right before he graduated high school, It was bankrupted, so he had been part time high school teacher for so many years until finishing master degrees. He also became an apprentice for Japanese sword blacksmith and Japanese sword whet master. He had had wife and sons during college student time. It might not be rare case in United States to have job and going collage the same time with scholarship, but in that time in Japan, it was very unusual thing without the scholarship. Near the end of WWII, he had tried to make high quality Japanese swords by government support. Then WWII was finished during he struggled to set-up making Japanese sword, he does not need to make Japanese Sword for the war anymore, so he established Sanjo Seisakujo which makes world famous Iwasaki Razor right after WWII. He had kept on researching Japanese sword and steels for blade, and he has influenced a lot to Sanjo steel industry in Nigata, Japan, and he has also influenced to steel industry in Japan a lot. He also had been all over Japan to find the secret of Japanese sword making. He had found or been taught over 50 of secrets.
Iwasaki Tamahagane Western Razor had been made for overcome western razor from Solingen Germany (At the time, Western Razor from Solingen, Germany was world famous in their quality and quantity).
Actually, Sanjo Seisakujo defeated Western Razor made in Solingen, Germany by the quality and performance, however they could not produce their western Tamahagane razor as much as Solingen, Germany.
At that time, Sanjo Seisakujo had Mr. Kousuke Iwasaki, Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki, two of other sons, Mr. Mizuochi (who makes Iwasaki razor right now), and Mr. Tokifusa Iizuka (who makes Shigefusa Knife), the company was like a dream team of cutlery in Japan. I have heard that Tamahagane straight razor need 6 times more amount of Tamahagane than Japanese Tamahagane razor, and it is single piece of the steel made, so it is very hard to make it. They produced 30 pieces of Tamahagane razors in a month at the time (I am not sure how many people had worked there at the time, it should be several people).
Sanjo Seisakujo will not make pure carbon steel or Tamahagane straight Razor, because the machine to make the handle was broken by flood. It is very rare vintage straight razor.
It was sold 3500 yen 30 to 40 years ago. It is converted like $700 for now. Pure carbon straight razor was 1700 yen. At the same time, Tamahagane Japanese razor was 600yen, so Tamahagane straight razor was almost 6 times more expensive than Tamahagane Japanese razor. The pure carbon steel straight razor was almost 3 times more expensive than Tamahagane Japanese razor. It is for professional barbers, so it was made as professional equipment. I guess it was a very expensive razor for even professional barbers tool at that time.
According to Mr. Kousuke Iwasaki record, one of barber guy had shaved 1707 people of beards without sharpen whetstone using just leather strop when it became little bit dull. Many of other experienced barbers have also shaved over 900 people without sharpening whetstones too.
He mentioned that some people say if we sell that kind of super high quality razors, we are not able to sell lots of razors, and we are not able to make money, but it is bad idea to think that way. If we are able to make the razors that are able to use from the father to his son and from the son to the grandson, it is able to beat Germany made razors. Nobody else makes that kind of razors, so it is able to sell all over the world. That was what Mr. Kosuke Iwasaki idea was.
Mr. Tanifuji, Fukutaro is the one who taught how to make straight razor to Iwasaki. The circle horizontal three lines is Iwasaki logo.
This Tamahagane straight razor has got some minor surface stain spots or minor rust spots, and it looks used a lot, but it had been used by professional barber with gently care, and he must have great skill of sharpening. It is still in excellent condition.
This Tamahagane straight razor has the serial number 1508.9 The number tells lot NO.1508, and the razor passed their inspection NO.9 in the lot.
Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki told me that the serial number should start around 500, and the each lot has less than 10 pieces.
It should be around HRC67
The blade edge length: 65mm (2 3/4inch) The total length of the razor when it opened: 237mm (9 7/16inch) The width of spine: 6mm (1/4inch) The blade width from the shoulder to the edge is 17mm (5/8 inch) The total weight of the razor: 1oz.