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Unique Razors: The Stahly and Rolls Safety Razors

Unique Razors: The Stahly and Rolls Safety Razors

Guest Writer Series |

The Stahly “Live Blade” Razor


The Stahly “Live Blade” razor was invented by P. G. Stahly from Indiana. What made this razor unique is that the razor head vibrate. While there were other razors with a vibrating head produced, the Stahly is probably the best-known. Production of the razor started in the 1940s and ended in the 1970s.


The Stahly was among the fist DE razors to offer a vibrating head. The reason for the vibrating head was to reduce the blade’s tendency to catch dry spots and skin irregularities. Stahly made no claims that the vibration of the razor head made the hairs stand up, as some of the competitors did. This claim has since been proven false. The reason for this was to reduce irritation and provide a smoother shave. The razor did not use batteries, or plug into an outlet. Instead, there is a knob on the bottom of the handle that contains a watch-type torsion spring that could be wound up immediately before the shave. This spring powered the small crankshaft that causes the head to vibrate. The vibrations would last for about three minutes before needing to be wound again.


There were several models made between 1946 and the late 1970s, mostly differing in finish and the case in which they came. All models take a standard DE blade. Due to the spring and internal mechanical components in the razor, the head is lighter than the handle, therefore the razor seems a little handle heavy.

Unique Razors: The Stahly and Rolls


The Rolls Razor

The Rolls Razor was promoted with the slogan “The razor that is stropped and honed in its case.” The case is a rigid frame with two detachable “lids”. One lid has a stone attached to it while the other lid has leather attached. The lids, however, are not interchangeable. Once one lid was removed, oscillating the handle drove the shaft along the frame either pushed the blade forward on the stone, or against it on the strop. There are mechanism inside the case that would flip the blade over once the end of one stroke was reached.


The blade is about the size of a traditional disposable DE blade, but is a hallow ground blade that looks like a section of a traditional straight razor, with the inclusion of a safety guard.


While not made by the Rolls-Royce company, the name of “Rolls” was chosen to bring up imagery of luxury and quality. They manufactured several variations that were based solely on material, finish, and shape. The earliest models have a pebble-finished case. The No. 2, which is the most common, as well as the silver-plated Imperial were packaged in a hard leatherette storage box. During World War II, the case was made of all aluminum.


There were two main shapes of the case, the “standard” shape had a flat, boxy shape with rounded corners. The Viscount had a softer profile with shaped sides and rounded corners.


Rolls Razors can still be found today on online auction sites, or even some antique shops. If you are lucky, you will be able to find some with the stone still intact.


 Unique Razors: The Stahly and Rolls
Unique Razors: The Stahly and Rolls


Rolls Razors can still be found today on online auction sites, or even some antique shops. If you are lucky, you will be able to find some with the stone still intact. The Stahly can also be found on some auction sites as well.


Have you used either of these unique razors? Do you own either one of these razors? After reading a little about them, do you want to pick either one up? Let us know in the comments below.





I have a Rolls Razor Wetter kit with “Gold Plated” stamped on inside of the cover. The outer surface of the box is crocodile skin and the inside velvet. It has 7 blades, each in a daily stamped day slot inside case. I have looked through just about all vintage razor sites and have found nothing remotely close to my kit. Any ideas where I get info on this? Thanks

Ernie ,

Attempting to locate history relating to the Schick aluminum pipe wrench that was apparently manufactured during WWII. I have come into possession of a 48" Schick aluminum pipe wrench and am curious as to it’s origin.
Thanks, Ed

Ed Haynie,

I have several, bought on ebay fairly cheaply. At first I bought several in iffy condition to make one or two complete. Then it became a little bit of a sickness. There are several variations, each just a little different. Hours can be spent cleaning and restoring these things to good order. Anyway, as for the shave, I like it. I have “sensitive skin” and all razors torment me to one degree or another. The Rolls, however, when properly sharpened and stropped does a good job with minimal irritation. It does take some getting used to and care must be taken to follow the directions. I use mine on a regular basis.


I owned both the Staley live blade and the Rolls. The Staley stopped working, likely because I over wound it or the spring broke, whatever. It was a novelty and not that well made the blade had different edge exposure on the head, not really a good thing. The Rolls was and is still in fine form. In fact, I still have a small tub of the strop dressing. I bought the Rolls (during my time in VN) as a tribute to WWII soldiers. Love the engineering.


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