Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

August 29, 2013

The boys club

(Continued)

Perhaps the most common barber shop collectible are the razors from 1860 to 1930. Manufactured in many styles, they are easy to find and come in a variety of price ranges. Late 1800s examples are often elaborate with inlays, precious stones and engraving. Early 19th century straight razors will commonly have ivory, bone or horn handles. Handles made of the early plastics include celluloid handles from 1880 forward and Bakelite from 1900 to 1930.

Bar bottles were used in the home as well as barbershops. Many of these were personalized with a customers name and were passed down from generation to generation, making them harder to find than mugs and razors. They were produced in a wide variety of colors and can vary in quality from hand blown art glass to mass- produced press glass. Those sought by serious collectors will be from 1860 to the early part of the 1900s. Prices will range from a few dollars to several hundred. The food and Drug Act of 1906 made it illegal to refill bottles for public use, and and soon after production of of barber bottles ceased.

Porcelain advertising signs and barber chairs are among the most prized finds in this field of collecting. Two words to the would-be buyer... condition and authenticity. Signs have been widely reproduced since the1950s. Old signs will have a mounting hole, the rust will be an orange-red color, not black or brown, they will have considerable weight for their size, and you should see several coats of thick paint rather than one single coat. Both adult and children’s chairs, while usually authentic,are often in poor condition and can cost a small fortune to have restored. It is usually best to buy a restored chair from an established sales/restoration company. If you do buy a chair that needs work, give as little as possible for it.

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