In the late 1800s and early 1900s, men gathered in barber shops to socialize and discuss topics of the day while taking care of their personal grooming needs. Before safety razors were introduced in 1903, and more and more fellows began taking care of that chore at home, local barber shops provided both haircuts and straight razor shaves. Victorian barber shops, in fact, held many things that are now obsolete in modern establishments of this nature including occupational shaving mugs and barber bottles.
Going even beyond glass and ceramics, there are some very interesting antiques and collectibles to search for in the areas of barber shop and shaving memorabilia. Take a look at a few of these, along with their auction hammer-down prices, here.
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Early 1900s Village Barber Shop Straight Razor Sign
A great example of early 1900s advertising signs, this one is shaped like the straight razors used in early barber shops. It has excellent detailing and is desirable not only to collectors of barber shop memorabilia but general advertising and sign collectors as well. Measures 49 inches long. Sold for $1,680 (not including buyer's premium) at Morphy Auctions in February of 2014.
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Talc Bottles, Shaving Brushes, and Straight Razors
While some of the examples shown here may have actually been for home use, they are all types of items you would have found in an old-fashioned barber shop. From refillable talc bottles to shaving brushes (the kind that was used with occupational shaving mugs and cake soap to work up a rich lather), and straight razors, these things were used extensively by the barbers of yesteryear. While interesting, these items are not particularly rare or extremely valuable. The lot sold for $125 (not including buyer's premium) at Morphy Auctions in June of 2015.
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1950s Koken President Barber Chair
This late 1950s barber chair was described as "Mad Men" era in the auction description, a common term for cool looking mid-century furnishings. It is Koken's "President" leather and metal model complete with ashtrays, head, and footrests, and hydraulic lifts. It is actually a very comfortable chair and because they are quite stylish, many folks purchase them as conversation pieces for man caves and game rooms. This one was restored, serviced and used at a barber shop before it went up for sale. While older barber chairs from the Victorian era can sell in the thousands, more of these still exist and it sold for $579.50 at Morphy Auctions in January of 2016.
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Barber Shop Porcelain Advertising Flange Sign
All types of advertising signs are considered collectible, including those advertising the neighborhood barber shop. The age of this eye-catching sign was not listed in the auction description, but it appears to be the 1950s to '60s era. It does have some rust along the edges and on the flange where it was originally attached to a structure. In a live webcast auction, it sold for $152.50 (not including buyer's premium) at Morphy Auctions in January of 2016.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Vulcan Barber Shop Hot Towel Steamer
A close shave required a hot towel in days gone by, and this type of apparatus was employed to get the job done. Some newer models were gas operated, but this one appears to be coal-fired although that wasn't specified in the auction description. This nickel plated 57 inches tall Vulcan steamer does have some dings and wear spots. Even so, it sold for $600 (not including buyer's premium) at Morphy Auctions in October of 2015.
A Note About Valuing Antiques and Collectibles
Values are provided as a guideline for what exact items in similar condition might sell for at a future auction. Items sold in other locations such as antique shops and shows may sell higher, and those marketed at flea markets or other venues could sell for far less.