View Full Version : How to use an old-fashioned scuttle
04-30-2012, 07:17 AM
I have seen some antique scuttles that are different from the modern scuttles. The modern ones have a water-jacket surrounding a solid cup while the antique ones have a reservoir underneath a cup which has holes in it. How is the antique one used and is it better than the new ones? Thanks.
04-30-2012, 07:55 AM
Shaving scuttle were developed around the 19th century with the first patent for a shaving mug dating to 1867. As hot water was not common in many households, one way to provide hot lather was to use a scuttle or mug. A traditional scuttle resembles a teapot with a wide spout where hot water is poured in, and this is where it differs from a shaving mug, which has no spout. At the top of the scuttle or mug is a soap holder. Traditionally, it was used with a hard block of shaving soap (rather than soft soap or cream) and therefore had drain holes at the bottom. Later scuttles and mugs do not include the holes, and thus can be used with creams and soft soaps. Some scuttles and mugs have concentric circles on the bottom, which retain some water thus helping to build lather.
In use, the shaving brush is dunked into the wide spout, allowing it to soak into the water and heat up. The soap is placed in the soap holder. When needed, one can take the brush and brush it against the soap, bringing up a layer of lather; excess water is drained back. This allows conservation of water and soap, whilst retaining enough heat to ensure a long shave.
I would imagine that once the brush was loaded, the shaver would build the lather directly on the face (face lathering) as opposed to a modern scuttle where the lather is built in the bowl.
04-30-2012, 08:12 AM
Thank you. A very comprehensive answer. Just what I wanted to know.
04-30-2012, 09:02 AM
The modern and antique scuttles really server different purposes.
A large modern scuttle is essentially a heated lathering bowl, thus allowing you to have nice warm lather for your shaves. Small moder scuttles, sometimes called brush scuttles, are most often used to achieve the same effect for face latherers who don't need the work room and storage capacity of the larger scuttles.
Antique scuttles were useful back in the days when you didn't necessarily have hot water, and maybe not even indoor plubing. My guess is that when my grandfather shaved in the old farmhouse the process went something like this:
Grandmother would use a pitcher pump at the kitchen sink to fill a tea kettle
She heated the water in the kettle on the wood stove
She filled my grandfathers scuttle with hot water from the kettle.
She took it to their room for him to shave with.
He would dip his brush in the water at the bottom of the scuttle and load his brush on the puck of soap at the top before face lathering. Excess lather from the puck of soap drained into the water below. If he laid the brush across the top of the scuttle it would stay warm. He probably had a pitcher and basin to use when rinsing the razor and washing his face.
Rinse the scuttle, brush and razor with cold water.
Dump basin out window.
04-30-2012, 11:38 AM
Thanks for the information. I just purchased an antique scuttle to use for face lathering. And because I couldn't resist, a modern one to use for bowl lathering. In about a week, after they get here, I'll try them both out.
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