This vintage razor has a 5/8 blade marked” J.Carter’s Old Palace Razor” – “Special Steel”. It also has a motif of a crown above a bishop’s mitre. It has a round point and a plain spine with jimping on the upper and lower tang. The tang is marked “J. Carter 17 Fleet Street”. The original scales have been replaced with composite scales appropriate to the period.
The razor is in fair condition overall with signs of historic corrosion, especially to the tang and end of the spine. The faces of the blade are in good condition and there is minimal spine wear.
J. Carter was a hairdresser and barber who operated in the late 19th and early 20th century from 17 Fleet Street in the City of London. The building at 17 Fleet Street is one of only a few buildings which survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. The site was originally part of an estate owned by the Knights Templar. Following their dissolution in 1312, the land passed to the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. Among their tenants were lawyers, who established the legal district of Temple which still exists today. It subsequently became an inn called “The Hand”, then the “Prince’s Arms” and later “The Fountain” when it was frequented by the diarist Samuel Pepys. Later on it was used as Mrs Salmon’s Waxworks, while the back remained a pub. Mrs Salmon was the forerunner to Madame Tussaud’s. Other 19th century businesses at No. 17 were bookseller William Reed, legal bookseller and publisher Edward Peall and hairdresser-perfumer Skelton Walker.
At some point in the latter half of the 19th century, Carter’s business of barbering and hairdressing moved in to 17 Fleet Strret, remaining at the premises for several decades. It catered to both genders, with the ladies’ cutting saloon being set up in Prince Henry’s Room, with the mens’ services on remaining floors. Taking over such a large space, John Carter was clearly successful and employed between 15-20 hairdressers and barbers. Carter seems to have been the Vidal Sassoon of the late Victorian age, and was well respected by his peers, having been elected as Master of the Hairdressers’ Guild for three successive years, as well as becoming the President of the Hairdressers Provident and Benevolent Institution. Along with haircutting, Carter also described himself as a “parfumier and hatter”. Among Carter’s services on offer were ‘hair brushed by steam power charge’, the first cutting saloon in London to offer such a service. In 1900, the London County Council bought the building, but granted Carter a lease to trade from the lower-ground floor in 1906, which was renewed to his heirs in 1926 and the business appeared to operate until the 1950’s.
We were unable to discover who might have produced the razor, but it was obviously sold by Carter’s to those who availed themselves of his barbering services. The original scales were broken, and we have replaced them with composite scales appropriate for the period. The original scales were made from ivory indicating that this razor was considered of high quality.