The Wilkinson Empire model was produced in England from about 1929 up to about 1952. There were a number of handle configurations and the later sets were seven day sets with special clips that the blades fit into, with the clips then being inserted into the razor. This series of razors are single-edge safeties with an adjustable safety bar. The Empire models, like the Valet Auto Strop razors, are also designed so you may strop the blade while it is still in the handle. A little knob at the rear is turned to move the safety bar in and out.
There are no modern production blades for this razor, so anyone wishing to use one will either need to find some NOS blades or to re-hone used blades. The Empire model blades are small hollow ground, hand-forged carbon steel blades. The blades were originally made to be used, stropped until they become useless, and then replaced with a set of new blades. So, if one wishes to experience this razor some blade re-conditioning will likely be in order. Fortunately, many of these sets do have a number of blades with them when for sale and they can be re-honed. The steel on the blades I did before writing this up was remarkably consistent, hard and well made. Stains cleaned up nicely and the blades readily took a good edge. But, those of you familiar with English steel should not be surprised. Using this razor is interesting, but that is really a subject for another thread.
There are earlier models than the Empire and they have different blade configurations. But, since the Empire model is the most prevalent it seemed to be a good choice for this write-up. You can see a good selection of these sets if you go to http://www.stropper.com/home/stropper_index.php and type Wilkinson in the search box.
In the next post is the honing process I used. Here is a typical 1930's set: