Try this on for size...
"From the beginning of the 7th century soap was produced in Nablus (Palestine), Kufa (Iraq) and Basra (Iraq). Soaps, as we know them today, are descendants of historical Arabian Soaps. Arabian Soap was perfumed and colored, while some of the soaps were liquid and others were solid. They also had special shaving soap for shaving. It was commercially sold for 3 Dirhams (0.3 Dinars) a piece in 981 AD. A manuscript of Al-Razi (Rhazes) contains various modern recipes for soap. A recently discovered manuscript from the 13th century details more recipes for soap making, e.g. take some sesame oil, a sprinkle of potash, alkali and some lime, mix them all together, and boil. When cooked, they are poured into molds and left to set, leaving hard soap (soap bar).
Found that in Wikipedia, under alchemy in Medieval Islam. Google rules. You'll note the date, 981 AD. Just to give you an idea of the the world outlook at the time, Europe is suffering the Dark Ages, Christianity is at the height of it's Monastic phase as hermits and teachers flee the influence of the Mediterranean power bases of the Church, Nordic and Danish Warriors are ravaging the coasts (going viking, which is a verb, not a noun or an adjective) of Europe and the Isles, and it will be another 85 years before the Normans conquer England and declare victory at the Battle of Hastings.
You really don't see soaps marketed to the West specifically for shaving until after the Industrial Revolution, when plants, oils and spices were affordable to the working and middle classes. One of the oldest?
Yep. Williams shaving soap. It was available during the Civil War.
Last edited by Spatterdash; 05-17-2009 at 04:10 PM.
Brushless or lather, boys, which ever you've the notion,
fifty cents for shaving cream, a dollar for the lotion; "Old Spice is quality," said the Captain to the Bosun, "so look for the bottle with the ship that sails the ocean!"