Vintage Gear Exploration: Rex Pure Bristle Brush

Posted: June 15, 2016 in Shaving Articles
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Rex Pure Bristle Vintage Brush

I found an old shaving brush among the various bric-a-brac in my storage shed the other day. I believe that it was my father’s. He did shave with a safety razor and brush for a while, but I don’t believe he was ever a big fan. In any case, it was a vintage brush that may or may not have ever been used for its intended purpose. I though it might be fun to take it through its paces and see what it was like. I’ve come up with a series of questions that I’ll be asking when I review all my other brushes, and I’m testing it out here. So, then. On with the show.

Does it grab up the soap?
Yes, in fact it does. It doesn’t quite dig in like my synthetic brushes, but it is a bit stiffer in backbone than the Escali brush. Thus, it picks up a load of soap with some dispatch. It is a very small knot, however, and so it’s maximum amount of soap is somewhat limited. In point of fact, I’m not fully certain of what kind of bristles the Rex brush has. They say “Pure Bristle – Vulcanized”. It was made in “Western Germany”. There was a Rex brush made in the U.S., as well. It didn’t feel like a badger brush, to me. Perhaps a boar? That, or it was treated in some way that has been since lost to time.

How’s it lather?
I found that the old Rex brush lathered quite well. Both times I shaved with it, I got the consistency from the lather that I was looking for, and didn’t have to go to any great pains to make this happen.

How’s it feel on the face?
My opinion is that this one is a bit more, shall we say, pokey, on the face than the other brushes I have. Not much, and certainly not in any negative light. The small knot allows you to put the soap on your face with a good bit of accuracy, but it has the predictable equal and opposite problems. Namely, you have to swirl and paint a bit more to cover the area, since it has probably half the mass of bristles of my other brushes.

Does it shed hairs?
Oh, yeah. Plenty of them. I can’t necessarily knock the brush that badly for this, because it is ancient, and probably never got used when it was factory-new. I believe that the only thing that it was every employed to do was to brush away wood chips and dust during woodwork projects. It’s likely verging on forty years old. The warranty has long, long since expired. As has the company. Heck, the country in question doesn’t even look the same on the map.

What’s the break-in period?
I don’t know. There’s no way to find out, really, given its history. More on this below.

Value for money?
It being free, not bad. That said, there was a lot of work put into this little brush to try and get it to what I felt was a good operational order. Spoiler alert: the work did not ultimately pay off.

Further details:
So, what happened with this brush? Well, for one, when I got it wet, it stunk. Really badly. What did it smell like? My most concise description would be thus: rancid skunk’s butthole. I researched on how to remove bad smells from brushes, and launched into a variety of actions. I lathered it multiple times with shave soap and rinsed it. I soaked it in vinegar. I washed it with fragrant soap. I used strong smelling soap with it. It utterly cut through Proraso Red’s sandalwood scent, nullifying it and turning it into skunk’s skanky butthole funk. In addition, all this action caused the wood of the brush’s handle to begin deteriorating at a speed not seen since the bad guy got a good look inside the Ark of the Covenant. In the end, the stink was just too nasty, and the brush was falling apart. It did function as it was intended for two shaves, though. I am glad I was able to at least give it a go. There is something intriguing about taking something old, something that’s found almost by accident, and putting it back to work. In the case of the Rex brush, it was well past retirement age, having never really gotten to do what it was designed to do. In the end, this twenty-second year senior finally got to come off the bench at least once.

Cheers,

Patrick

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