British Army Shaving Brush

I last covered the British Army shaving brush right back when the blog began as part of the wash roll covered here. That shaving brush was made of Bakelite and of reasonably high quality. Tonight though we are looking at a much cruder and presumably cheaper shaving brush that was again issued to British troops:imageThis example is made from wood and clearly started off by being having the handle turned on a lathe, the point where the spindle was pressed into the wood still being visible on the base of the brush:imageThe top of the handle was divided into four, with a central area to accept the bristles:imageAfter this was secured, string was tightly wound around the top of the handle to draw the four quarters together and secure the bristles into the handle:imageNote the recess lathed into the handle for the string to sit in. The handle is stamped in ink indicating it was made in London in 1945:imageThe /|\ arrow clearly indicates it was made for the military. This is definitely the budget end of shaving brushes and I suspect many troops would have quickly ditched this brush in favour of a better quality civilian example, not only is the handle crude, but the bristles are coarse and unlikely to make a good lather easily.

One problem which troops in World War Two managed to avoid however was catching facial anthrax from their shaving brushes. In World War 1 it became difficult to acquire enough badger hair to make the brushes, badger hair being the best material as it held water better than other animal hair. Substitute hair, including horse hair was used instead. Unfortunately herbivores such as horses are susceptible to anthrax and some suppliers of this hair did not thoroughly clean and disinfect it before it was made into brushes. This led to an outbreak of subcutaneous anthrax amongst soldiers using the low cost bristles. It was found that brushes with lighter bristles were more likely to give off anthrax. This was because manufacturers were less inclined to disinfect this colour hair as it reduced its resemblance to badger hair. Darker bristles were more likely to be disinfected as they could not be disguised as badger hair and so were less likely to carry anthrax.

One comment

  1. I think that is a actually a stencil brush used with metal stencil sets to mark road signs by the Military Police and to stencil markings on stores and ammunition boxes.

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