Full Version: Roman Military Razor
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2
I recently purchased this razor from a dealer in the UK. It is in transit to me as we speak. When I get it I am going to send it to a conservator that I have found because of the rust on the blade. It is supposedly from the 3rd or 4th cAD. The dealer said the blade is iron but I think it maybe steel given it's good condition. Anything anyone knows about this type of razor would be interesting to me. The handle is bronze. It weighs 45g and is 125mm in length.
The handle reminds me of medical scalpel handles. The form of the blade is different form surviving sclpel blades I know of. The back of the blade seems very thick. I can't say whether it actually is a razor or not (or a medical instrument for that matter). I'd certainly not go as far as calling it a military razor, though.

Yep, I was thinking possible medical instrument, too. But there could be some issues with this piece. The patina on the bronze, for instance. There is no greening at the part where the bronze would have been effected by the iron. The rust is very superficial, and yet a portion of the cutting edge seems corroded away. Is there any provenace to that piece? Where was it found, anything about the context?

On the question of steel, yes, Romans did use steel for high quality tools such as firestrikers, swordblades and knives/razors. Carbon content would/could be around 0.45, which is equivelant to a modern C45 tool steel.
The dealer said possibly military. So I included that. I didn't ask him why he posed that as a possibility.

I to was concerned on the lack of patina on the handle. My guess it was restored some time ago and the [strike]handle[/strike]blade has since corroded. The dealer in London said he knew very little about it and that he had acquired it from a dealer in Munich.

I was thinking that there was high-end razors made of steel and standard razors made of iron. The size is about right for a razor. Maybe it is a tool of a wealthy person or officer?
Hmm, not a likely scenario, is if it were restored, it would have had the rust stabilised and kept in a collection of some sort. All restorers I know however are very concious of not removing patina. So if someone had worked on it, it was a dilitant (and a moron). Also, look in the creases, it would have been difficult to polish away the patina there.

I tried to enlarge the picture to get a beter look, but that "makers mark" is unlike any I have come across so far. Roman maker marks that I know are not stylised figures, but would have a few letters in a box, like for instance MA.Fec (Marcus Antonius Fecit)
Thank you for your input. I will provide more details as I learn them. I will post larger pictures after I receive it, provide details from the COA (which I have not yet seen) and will provide details from the conservator's report. Thanks again.

I found the following on "Gilt Bronze Patina's"

"In ancient Greek times statues were gilded by applying sheets of gold to a surface and locking them into channels engraved into the bronze surface. The Romans also work fine sheets of gold onto bronze statues using bone tools that burnished the gold onto the surface. Another technique involved the application of mercury and fired to forge the gold to bronze."

This could also explain the absence on a dark green or dark brown patina. I don't know how likely this possibility is. Any comments will be appreciated.
Gold plating, however applied, on an object like your razor is VERY onlikely. And it would then have miraculousy disappeared completly, leaving a clean non-pattinated bronze object? Oh please :dizzy: Face it, the chances of it being a fake are good indeed. I am very eager to learn more, for if is not a fake, it is a new kind of razor, although I would still personaly put it in the "medical department".

This may give you some references on Roman knife/razor handles found in the UK.
I agree with the possibility of being a fake. Then it would also have to be a very clumsy fake also. What about the possibility that the guilt is still intact. I found this picture attached on an 8th century guilt artifact that looks very similar to the patina on the razor??
From the UK source you provided here is razor that is similar in shape to the razor I have acquired.

It is from approximately the same period but not made of steel.
Ah, yes, but look at the size! This could well be a scalpel, many medical instruments were done in bronze.

There is a handle like the one on your "razor" there somewhere, depicting Minerva, a common enough theme on knife/razor handles
I am now in receipt of the razor. The previously posted pictures were not accurate. The photo was with flash and over exposed. Here are two shots as it was received. As you can see the patina is intact. So now the only bone of contention is the marker's mark and whether or not it is a razor or a medical instrument.
Only because of the angle of the handle, I'd say it's some kind of cutting device, not a shaving device. If you have ever seen someone use a straight razor, the handle part is at an obtuse angle to the blade. That allows for shaving the strange contours of the face without having to put the arm in an awkward position.

I've tried it, but the thought of that frightening blade by my neck brought me back to the Gillette version of slip, a hiccup, and --
I have never tried a straight. But I am a double edge user. Here is a picture of a modern Japanese straight razor. Made by Feather.
Pages: 1 2