The Wilkinson Sword Co. Ltd., was officially founded in 1887, the legacy of a successful armaments manufacturing firm started by James Nock in 1772. His successor was his son-in-law, James Wilkinson, who took over in 1804, and who was in turn succeeded by his son, Henry Wilkinson, who ran the firm until 1861. Early products included both swords (and lances and bayonets, etc.) and guns, which were a mainstay of the early business. An increasing reliance on the blade business in the 1880's lead to the adoption of the Wilkinson Sword name in 1887. They began to make straight razors in 1890, and brought out their first safety razor in 1898.
In 1930, Wilkinson introduced the "Empire" series of razors, which were made until about 1950, with the exception of the period of the Second World War (September 1939 until mid-1945). The Empire models also evolved in form over the years. Empire type razor models still employed a removable wedge blade, but it was a smaller piece of steel, the same width as the earlier wedge blades, but only about one-half as high (about the size of a Schick Injector blade). These blades featured the familiar crossed swords logo.
Another new feature of the Empire razors was built in self-stropping, similar to the more common Auto-Strop. Gone was the hefty strop and stropping machine of the Pall Mall models, replaced by a similar (but slightly narrower) strop which sat coiled in a metal holder in the case. The strop clip also served as a rest for the razor handle in the case. By insertion of the strop in the head the razor became the stropping machine as it moved the blade back and forth over the leather. Empire sets were made in single blade form, in two and three day sets, and in high end seven day sets.
The Empire series maintained the ribbed roller guard, although some bar guard models were produced later on. They also kept the adjustment screw to vary the blade angle. Empire type razors did not have the adjustment that tilted the head in different angles to the handle.
What makes this razor so special is that it still has all its pamphlets within the card in the top of the lid, not only this, it is a set that was put together for the South African market as the instructions are in both English and Afrikaans.
The cherry on top is a hand written note dated 11/12/1939, this was a wedding anniversary gift from a loving wife to her husband, epic stuff. Maybe someone wants to go on a 'journey' and unravel the history with the few clues provided?
The razor comes with a spare blade and its original strop, if you need this honed prior to purchase please ask us to do so as we like to keep vintage items with some sentimental value/connection in its received condition.