Before I start, I would like to mention that all the references and websites that I used will be credited at the end of the post. Also, much time was spent looking for pictures, many of them are from different websites or eBay. For those who were patient for a week, thank you!
I do not own many straight razors that have some kind of unique marking that would identify them to a specific person, well, someone different than the straight razor manufacturer. Those razors are even more interesting for me as they give me two points to look up, the manufacturer and who might have used it or sold it.
The razor that I have today is not that interesting as I only have one name on it: Albert Bellefontaine. I do not have a manufacturer on it. I had a feeling that he was not the man making the razor but he, somehow, had his name stamped on it so he would be able to sell it. I did try to find everything I could on this Gentleman. I found some things but not everything I could possibly wish, unfortunately. I think that I could probably finish this research if I have access to historical archives in Montréal one day...
All right, the razor itself and me or how did I end up with that razor? I lived in Montréal for many years and I grew up not too far from there. I was trying to find something that could remind me of home. That something would have a marking identifying either a city or the country (Canada). Being down under, it is not easy to do those hunts. I was lucky enough to buy a LeGrelot Royal Canada a while back but I sold it as I didn’t find the edge to be fantastic. We all know that it comes to YMMV when we are talking razors. I have another LeGrelot and love it! I then kept searching and saw a razor one day on B/S/T that was 9/16 with ‘Montréal’ stamped on it. I thought it’s nice but a bit smaller than what I usually like. I prefer a 6/8 as a daily razor, I do use smaller razors such as 11/16 or ⅝ but really prefer them around 6/8. So, I passed on that one and it was eventually sold (of course). I then regretted not buying it.
Anyways, I was looking at straight razors one night and there it was. Someone listed a razor with a etching that said “Happy Barber”. The stamp was Albert Bellefontaine, Montréal. On the other side, “Special steel” and “Made in France”. French razors usually have weird coding on the maker such as HB530 but this one doesn’t have anything. Unless I find who talked to who, I will never be able to find the original maker in France. The razor is a 6/8 so it was perfect, I made sure I won that auction...
By now, you guessed it, I will be looking into Albert Bellefontaine information. When I started my research, one of the first hit was someone else looking for some information on the same razor on another forum. It seems that he was also out of luck as little information came up. I thought, surely, I can dig something up somewhere on the Internet!
Let’s get started! I did not find an exact date of birth or biography for Albert Bellefontaine. The only two Albert Bellefontaine that I found born in Canada were in the 1901 census. Both are from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The first one was born on the 27th February 1877 and the second one was born on the 1st March 1898. Both had a father named Simon Bellefontaine (Both Simon are born on a different date) and are not related (well, nothing that I could find, they just have the same names)... I’m thinking that the first one (27th February 1877) is the one as he was 24 in 1901 and with is death year that I’ve found, it looks right. Again, an assumption. If not, the second one would die in his 60s. The other possibility is that Albert was born outside Canada. So, nothing sure or firm here.
There’s a book for sale on a website describing the Bellefontaine Parfumerie published in 1929. The title is “The Original Parfumerie Bellefontaine. Founded by Albert Bellefontaine over 23 years ago“. The book mentions that Albert opened the shop 23 years earlier (that would be 1906) which I doubt as the telephone directory in Montreal doesn’t have him listed as a perfumer (yes, in those days, everyone knew what you were doing). In fact, he wasn’t listed at all. It took a few years before he was listed in there and then, listed as a perfumer. More on that later.
Albert Bellefontaine owned a Parfumerie (Perfumery) in Montréal, Québec, Canada. He had a shop on St-Denis street (I think I saw a Thai Restaurant on google map today). The shop moved a few times as I saw different addresses but always on St-Denis street. I did not find any exact information on this but I am suspecting that the razors that I saw, including mine, were made for the Perfumery and sold as the home brand. I did not find his catalog or flyer for the shop to see what he was selling shaving-wise but that’s an assumption. I was able to trace old auctions with Albert Bellefontaine marked on them. Some had the simple Montréal stamp and others, Montréal-Toronto. Some had the etching “Happy Barber” or “Bellefontaine de Luxe”. Some razors had a logo which was represented by a Bell, I saw one Bell with “PB” in it (Parfumerie Bellefontaine/Perfumery Bellefontaine). I did see that logo before on German blades but not on a specific brand. The same bell was on various brands. I also saw a few straight with a “Made in Germany” stamp instead of “Made in France”. I can then only assume that Albert had a supplier for his straights and changed later on.
So, thanks to the Lovell telephone books that are available online from 1842 to 1977, I was able to find Albert in there. Those telephone books are listing pretty much everything in Montréal. I was unable to find the same type of online telephone books for Toronto unfortunately as I suspect that Albert opened a Perfumery in Toronto at one stage. However, for Montréal, I have the following:
There’s an Albert Bellefontaine listed as a Telegraph Operator living at 453 Rachel Street. Robert Bellefontaine is also living with him (same address), Robert is a caretaker. I’m almost 100% sure it’s not the right Albert but it’s the first mention in the telephone directory. The reason why is in 1909-1910.
I have 2 Albert Bellefontaine. One of them is the same Telegraph Operator and the other one is, wait for it, Barber! I think it makes more sense to have a Barber becoming a perfumer than a telegraph operator but then, what do I know? It’s one of the two. Albert the Barber is living at 1124 St Lawrence Blvd (Barber).
The entry reads “Bellefontaine and Filiatrault, Barber Shop, 977 Craig East”. I do not have the name Albert or where he lives...
This one gives me a bit more, Albert is listed again as “Bellefontaine, Albert of Bellefontaine & Filiatrault, 1227 Cadieux”. The Barber shop is listed as 1119 Boulevard St Lawrence. It also lists the Telegraph Operator as 1227 Cadieux, which is strange. I think it’s a mistake.
Only one Albert Bellefontaine listed, Barber, 1119 Boulevard St Lawrence.
Same as above but the address changed for 1067 St Lawrence Blvd.
Albert Bellefontaine is only listed as a Telegraph Operator living on 935 St Denis. I’m starting to wonder if it’s the same Albert doing the Telegraph Operator and Barber...
Same than above, only one Telegraph Operator, same address.
JACKPOT! - Bellefontaine Albert perfume mfr 935 St Denis. Also listed in 929 St Denis. I would say this is when the process of making perfume started...
It’s getting together - Bellefontaine Albert perfume mnfr and barber supplies 929 St Denis h 931 do (I’m unsure of the “h 931 do” bit)
Bellefontaine Albert perfume mnfr and barbers’ supplies 1154 St Denis h 948 Berri. (I think H stands for Home). So he would have the shop at 1154 St Denis and his home would be 948 Berri.
Bellefontaine Albert perfume mnfr and barbers’ supplies 1154 St Denis h 39E Rivard
Bellefontaine Albert perfume mnfr 322 St Denis h do
The business was picking up from here I would say as Albert bought a small square. Bellefontaine, Albert . Parfumerie. Mfr Perfumes, Toilet Waters, Cold and Vanishing Creams, Talcum Powders, Toilet Specialities. Barbers’ Supplies. 322 St Denis Street. Tel. East 959.
Bellefontaine Albert perfume mnfr 322 St Denis h 322 ½ do
1923 to 1925
Addresses stays the same
Bellefontaine Albert perfume mnfr 1670 St Denis h 1672 do
Bellefontaine Albert perfume mnfr 1670 St Denis h 357 Emery
1927 to 1938
Bellefontaine Albert prop Parfumerie Albert Bellefontaine 357 Emery.
Bellefontaine Albert pres Parfumerie Albert Bellefontaine Ltd & prop Bellefontaine Wood Work 357 Emery.
Bellefontaine Albert pres Parfumerie Albert Bellefontaine 357 Emery.
I found a bottle that used to have hair tonic. There’s a company that can replicate the label and sell an empty bottle if required. I’m guessing that the Perfumery had a lot of product with their own label on it. As the address is for 1670 St Denis, I’d say the bottle is between 1925 - 1965.
I did not find much more than that but I did find a tombstone... Again, a bit of research and many cemetery in Montreal list the tombstones they have. I cannot have an actual picture of the grave but I did find one Albert Bellefontaine listed in that cemetery. Now, why would I be almost 100% positive on that Albert Bellefontaine? There was 2 of them in Nova Scotia and I’m unsure when he was born/died... Simple! The telephone directory is here to save me. In the 1964-1965, Albert is listed in there, still as a perfumer. So, he’s alive, in 1965-1966, he’s not listed anymore or at all... Which makes me think he died that year... I found the tombstone by luck and I plan to go down there one day to see the actual tombstone... The Tombstone would then be in the Cimetière Notre-Dame-Des-Neiges, Albert Bellefontaine died on the 26th July 1965. He is buried in section P, lot: 02069. If it was one of the two Albert that I found in Nova Scotia (I’m hoping that the tombstone has that information), he died at either 88 yo or 67 yo. If he was born somewhere else, then, I hope the tombstone would have that information...
So, the razor that I have was probably made between the opening of the Perfumery in 1915 and the closure in 1965.
Thank you for reading, I enjoyed doing the research. I did put more time into this one even if the text is not that long but still kept it around 1 day's work using the Internet only. A few websites were of a huge help to research the information. See below:
http://bibnum2.bnquebec.ca/bna/lovell/ - Montréal old telephone directory
http://www.hairraisingstories.com/Pr...VIGORATOR.html - Hair Tonic bottle
http://www.cimetierenotredamedesneiges.ca/ - Cemetery Notre-Dame-des-Neiges
http://stevemorse.org/ - I found a lot of information from that website. There’s a lot of census available online.
http://www.museudelperfum.net/?q=en/...ence&id=106059 - A museum that has a bit of information about a few perfumers. Interesting that the Museum has some information in Europe for a North American shop that doesn't exists today...