The World’s Greatest Shave held in March raises funds for research and support to families facing blood cancer. In this 50th year for Curtin and WAIT, the University is aiming to have 50 people join Curtin’s World’s Greatest Shave team. Participants will be happy to know that these open razors are not the tools used for shaving on the day.
These vintage razors with folding handles and honed steel blades were marketed as open razors by the Sheffield manufacturers, and are also known as cut-throat or straight razors.
These particular razors were the personal property of John Curtin and would have accompanied him on his travels by train and ship back and forth across Australia, and on two international journeys.
JCPML00287/6 Two Bengall razors, manufactured by T. R. Cadman & Sons, Sheffield.
JCPML00287/5 The Club Razor, manufactured in Germany.
Curtin’s journeys on trains, ships, planes and, during his 1944 overseas trip, on flying boats, would have tested his skill with an open razor on many a bumpy ride. Towards the end of his life, Curtin was asked about highlights in his career. His daughter Elsie MacLeod recalled his response.
After thinking for a moment he named one: “Shaving myself with a cut-throat razor high in the sky at the point of no return, midway across the Atlantic in 1944”.
John Curtin died in 1945, the year after making that challenging war time journey. The razors were kept in the Curtin family home in Cottesloe for many years, before being donated to the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library by members of the Curtin family.
JCPML00964/202 Elsie MacLeod, letter to the National Times, 20-26 May 1983.