I must admit I was a bit apprehensive regarding the Gem razors. Aggressive appearance, simple blade holder, and that they use the same blades used by my dad building models and preparing artwork for printing did not seem like a good combination for my neck. But when an experienced wet shaver friend loaned one to me with the comments “you need to try this” and “you can handle it” how could I walk away. It being made in my home town and about the same year as my house was built further peaked my interest and felt obligation to give it a shot.
The 1912 was manufactured into the 1940’s. The design is elegantly simple, made from a few pieces of stamped metal riveted together. The blade is held in place by two small nibs on the edge and down pressure from the spring loaded top plate. I was pleasantly surprised how secure the blade is held. The handle is solid and provides a nice balance.
Gem has been producing quality blades for shaving and industrial use for 100 years and they still look the same. These blades have a single cutting edge and are significantly thicker and more rigid than double edge blades. This stiffness behaves more like a straight razor. I found the blade easily got under the tricky hair on my neck and sliced them cleanly in one pass. My double edge required more stretching and multiple passes to get the same result. After a few shaves, the blades are still in great shape for projects around the house.
The razor does have an aggressive design that requires respect and a light touch but the secret is that the razor uses a lower angle than my Superspeed or Slant. That is, you need to hold the flat head of the razor almost flat against your face. The classic sound of a good pass is very clear when you have it right and helps you to find the proper hold.
After a week’s worth of shaves I found only one drawback. The head design and low angle of cutting makes getting close while cutting away from my nose and ears a little more challenging but some more time at the sink will resolve that. The overall close shave and especially the way the blade gets under hairs and does not hop makes this classic a must for the shave den.
Gem 1912’s can be found at yard sales, antique shops, and eBay in great shape for less than $20.00 (often less than $10.00) and Gem blades are available on line at Ted Pella Inc. http://www.tedpella.com/dissect_html...#anchor1606431 and others and at several chain drug stores.