GEM Micromatic Clog-Pruf

I've resisted the temptation for years, but my local vintage razor supplier has got me pegged. Put one functional, halfway-decent looking safety razor under glass for $7-$10, and I'll bite every time. I knew there was a spring or something to worry about with this single-edge (SE) model from circa 1946, but I simply spoke a few words into my cell phone and familiarized myself with its operation on the spot. Spring action, confirmed. I'll take it!

That was just the last hurdle. I've long been prejudiced against SE by my minimalist sensibilities. Subscribing to more than one blade system is fundamentally lacking in parsimony.

"It is futile to do with more what can be done with fewer."

Frugality, however, subsumed that concern. I noted the appearance of $3 SE blades at my supermarket a several months back, which tipped the scale of judgment away from "Feather Artist Club" and back to "cheap." My initial commitment to DE was swayed by such bargains.

Besides, it must be admitted, I have since degenerated to the point of buying razors for entertainment. I could at least justify this new one as an educational expense. My birthday razors started me fooling around with blade flex. I began with reservations, and recent increases in the incidence of cuts have again called value into question. Without any other blade type, it would be difficult to evaluate fully, but the thicker SE blades are known to be more rigid, besides being clamped into the GEM razor by hooks at the front corners.

And last week, my error with the shavette branded me with the conviction that I am quintessentially a low-angle shaver, which I've always heard is an outstanding feature of SE. Though most YouTubes depict shavers holding the blade high, I know that's only becuase modern safety razor users generally refuse to tether the skin behind the blade. Those images alone (well, plus the horrendous grating noises) are almost sufficient evidence that I'm going to love SE.

Logic practically demands that I possess this razor! Friar William of Ockham himself could not fault this purchase. "No plurality should be assumed unless it can be proved (a) by reason, or (b) by experience, or (c) by some infallible authority." I'll take (b) for $9, Alex.

The final Pruf

Bowl lathering Stirling with my Semogue 620, my foam came up a little thin, which seemed prudent enough, anticipating a burn risk. Anything but draggy, and the less glycerin, the better. At the temple, it was immediately apparent that low angle was the only way I could make the razor progress. And man, was it tuggy! You know I don't really mind that, but wow -- as tuggy as a completely, won't cut hair, 25 shaves dull DE blade. Possibly even more than that, which was unexpected, for a design often said to be the next closest thing to a straight razor. I seriously doubt that claim.

I didn't get a super close shave this time, but it was more than acceptable. I suspect I was overly cautious about attempting my usual sliding strokes, given the forces in play. I skipped the splash and went straight to Shave Secret, which rewarded me with its menthol coolness. One thing I will approve immediately, is the post-shave feel: that nice, velvety feeling of having just removed an old beard.

And not a hint of burn, though a slightly sore spot on the contralateral jawline suggests highly localized intrafollicular damage.

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