Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes: What Do They Mean? - Lee's Razors (2024)

We bet many of you don’t know Gillette safety razor date codes. Indeed, this thing requires lots of research. But don’t worry! We have done the task for you.

Knowing Gillette Safety Razor date codes is among the most often asked questions by our visitors and antique grooming accessory aficionados.

Indeed, we’ve received many comments sharing similar stories of them finding an aged Gillette DE razor among the final mementos of their beloved ones.

Thus, they want to know more about the discovered items and the era of those razors. Recognizing the date of the item gives you a clearer sight of background and proximity to your past-away family members who previously owned the razors.

So, if that’s also what you want to discover, today’s post is for you. We also include 3 different Gillette razor’s date coding systems according to their 3 most famous production sites in the past.

What Are Gillette Safety Razors?

King Camp Gillette first popularized safety razors (also known as double edge or DE razors) in the early 1920s.

As the name suggests, a safety razor is an apparatus for hair grooming with a protection mechanism located between the razor’s edges and the skin to minimize the risk of injuries.

Lee's Razors

Lee's Razors

Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes: What Do They Mean? - Lee's Razors (1)

The model of a DE razor.

Besides that, another reason why the double edge razors got their moniker is that people can shave the hair with both edges of the product simultaneously.

Before the implementation of safety razors, most males relied on barbers to deal with their beards and facial hairs, which usually cost a considerable amount of expense.

Thus, safety razors went viral as they enabled individuals, especially those on a tight budget, to enjoy a smoothly-shaved face whenever they wanted without paying a fortune.

Moreover, these tiny razors of the double edge shaver are replaceable at home, allowing everyday grooming to be even more convenient.

That’s also why the DE razor was the most used model of safety razors throughout and post WWI until cartridges and disposable razors came into the market in the 1970s.

Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes In The US

1903-1929 (serial numbers)

From 1904 to 1921, Gillette razors had numerical digits imprinted on them, so did the elite versions from 1921 to 1931, except 1927-1928.

In this period, Gillette mostly engraved the serial numbers on the upper surface of the guard or the inner sleeve portion of the handle.

It wasn’t until the middle of the year 1904 that numerical codes got implemented on the products, making an approximate 55,000 razors lacking them.

Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes: What Do They Mean? - Lee's Razors (2)

King Gillette – the father of DE razors.

This coincides with the period when King Gillette himself got closely involved in the company, and perhaps it was at his demand. These dating digits were on the tip of the safety or occasionally even on the inside barrel.

On November 15, 1921, the first 1904 licenses expired.

In May, the New Improved Razor got released and owned a different product code. In addition to “Brownie” and similar kits, the company launched Old Types’ models without digit codes.

Another note is that from 1921 to 1923, the datingcode prefix system didn’t include the “O” letter. Between 1931 and 1951, there were no date stamps on razors.

Manufacturing TimeSerial NumbersRazor lines
1903Double Ring




Old Types (1904-1929, such as Single Ring, Ball-End, and so forth.)










Military Kits













New Improved (1921-1929, such as Bostonian, Big Fellow, and other variants)


192994801C‑241755CThe NEW


1930-1949 (the date coding era)

It wasn’t until 1930, however, that Gillette ceased utilizing serial codes.

From the 1930s to 1949, the company decided to eliminate the old coding, making it tricky to determine the exact date of the razors.

So instead of serial numbers, a date code is marked on the products at this time.

According to this system, letters represent the year of production while the numbers indicate the quarter of production.

For example, A represents the year 1930, B is next year – 1931, and so on. Meanwhile, the numbers from 1 to 4 signify every ¼ of a year.

As a result, “A-1” represented the months of January to March in 1930.

Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes: What Do They Mean? - Lee's Razors (3)

The vintage razor set of Gillette in The New line.

As this dating strategy was reasonably easy to follow, it quickly became a widespread coding method in 1950, making people imprint the codes on all products at that time.

This means if you discover an old razor with its original edges, you could quickly utilize the date codes to estimate the razor’s era.

However, it is not always the truth because the blades might not be authentic, or people might get a replacement razor manufactured after or before the razor.

1950-1988 (letter codes)

In the 1950-1988 period, the manufacturer decided to incorporate letter codes onto each product.

Gillette imprinted a two-part date code onto your razor.

The initial part is an alphabetical letter that correlates to the year of manufacturing, as shown in the table below. Meanwhile, the latter part is a digit.

These numbers represent the three-month manufacturing period. In detail:

  • 1 is the time from January to March.
  • 2 is from April to June.
  • 3 is from July to September.
  • 4 is from October to December.

For example, V-3 (the first razor date coded) stands for the third quarter of 1950.

YearCodeRazor Lines
1950V3 Piece Tech


40s Style Super Speed



(1941, 1946-1951)


(1941, 1946-1953)

1951WBlack Tip Super Speed


1954ZFlare Tip Super Speed
1955ABlue Tip and Red Tip Super Speed



(1957-1958, 1960)

1958D“Fat Boy” Adjustable

(1957-1958, 1960)

195 Adjustable

(“bottom dial”)

1961G“Slim” AdjustableLady Gillette
1966LBlack Handle Super SpeedThe Knack


1968NBlack Handle Super Adjustable

Gillette DE Razor Codes In Canada

Old Types line’s serial numbers

In 1906-04, the Montreal facility initiated low-volume manufacturing of Gillette razors, which increased during 1907. Initial purchases included Pocket Edition collections, many of which are still available nowadays.

Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes: What Do They Mean? - Lee's Razors (4)

The Gillette building in Montreal, Canada.

Throughout WWI, Canada manufactured the majority, if not all, of the razors sold in Europe.

Manufacturing codes on famous Canadian items are sporadic and often inconsistent.

It seems that they utilized digits solely at periods and “C” or “PC” as prefixes in other instances.

Later Old Types

After mid-1921, Gillette’s Boston, USA factory made the Old Type blades minus the numerical digits. In Canada, the Montreal facility most likely performed a similar act.

New Improved lines’ serial numbers

Gillette released their New Improved in mid-1921. In Canada, the Montreal factory resumed its date coding patterns from 1Z and most likely proceeded until the discontinuation of the New Improved models in 1929.

There are samples up to 96302Z, and codes below 100,000 are most likely from 1921 and 1922. After that, several versions, including Big Fellow and Tuckaway, appeared to come into mass production using the same date coding method.

Frankly, we can’t guess what the serial numbers would be like if Canadian manufacturing surpassed 999999Z.

Techs and TTOs lines

Commençant with V-1950, the Boston plant started utilizing a 25-letter coding in 1950, excluding Q.

Then, next to the letter coding was a digit indicator of 1, 2, 3, or 4 representing the quarter in a year in which people manufactured the products.

Although a few people claimed that they are not sure whether or not Gillette goods manufactured in Canada adopted a similar pattern, many believe they did.

Gillette Razor Codes In England

Leicester, England, was the site of Gillette’s first British plant, which opened in 1909.

Unfortunately, it appears that the factory stopped operating somewhere between 1914 and 1915, with Gillette having departed the property by 1916, as far as we can ascertain.

However, while it was still working, the firm had employed a variety of numerical code prefixes.

Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes: What Do They Mean? - Lee's Razors (5)

Gillette shut down the operation of the Leicester factory in 1914-1915.

Now, it is doubtful that the facility’s output throughout these periods was sufficient to support dating usage in different razor models, similar to the way the Us factory did with A, B, C, etc.

Instead, data suggests that these segments were likely running concurrently.

However, the one most upvoted possibility, in this case, is that the company used these prefixes to represent the marketplace for which they intended to export the razors.

Thus, according to this theory, E stands for England, F for France, G for Germany, and so forth.

One different explanation is that Gillette operated numerous manufacturing sites with a unique prefix.

Meanwhile, a third hypothesis stated that E represents blades manufactured in England, F refers to those made in France, and H represents Germany.

But no matter what the case is, we cannot tell which theory is correct and why there are such differences in date coding those products.


That’s everything we’ve got for you today regarding Gillette safety razor date codes.

We know how amazing it feels to trace back to the era of these great razors – just like leaping back to the past! This information is also super valuable if you’re one of those who love to collect antique items.

We hope our article has made the date-identifying process easier for you. Good luck!

Page Contents

  • What Are Gillette Safety Razors?
  • Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes In The US
    • 1903-1929 (serial numbers)
    • 1930-1949 (the date coding era)
    • 1950-1988 (letter codes)
  • Gillette DE Razor Codes In Canada
    • Old Types line’s serial numbers
    • Later Old Types
    • New Improved lines’ serial numbers
    • Techs and TTOs lines
  • Gillette Razor Codes In England
  • Conclusion
Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes: What Do They Mean? - Lee's Razors (2024)


Gillette Safety Razor Date Codes: What Do They Mean? - Lee's Razors? ›

The letter represents the year of manufacture, the number, that of the quarter in that year. That is to say.... 1 is Jan-March, 2 is April-June, 3 is July-Sept, and 4 is Oct-Dec. A razor made in the year of 1961 will have the letter G, followed by the number relating to the quarter of its manufacture.

How do I tell what year my Gillette razor is? ›

They are found in the top left and right corners on the underside of razor guards, both 3 peice and 1 piece models. The letter represents the year, found on the chart below, and the number 1-4 correspond with the quarter of the year.

What year was the safety razor made? ›

A third pivotal innovation was a safety razor using a disposable double-edge blade for which King Camp Gillette submitted a patent application in 1901 and was granted in 1904.

How old are safety razors? ›

The term “safety razor” refers to a protective guard—a device situated between the blade and the skin that is intended to reduce injury. The earliest blade protective guard was an innovation of the straight razor and was created by Jean-Jacques Perret in 1762.

Does shaving blade have expiry date? ›

Ans: There isn't an expiry date for the razor blades. One must replace the razor blade when the lubrication strip runs out.

What do the numbers on a razor mean? ›

A: The higher the number, the closer the shave. It changes the angle and depth of the blade.

Do safety razors expire? ›

Safety razors are designed to be a lasting tool that can be reused for decades. However, blades naturally lose their sharpness with time and use, which makes them less effective at providing a clean and close shave. This means that while the razor might last, the blade does not.

How do you date a Gillette Safety Razor? ›

The letter represents the year of manufacture, the number, that of the quarter in that year. That is to say.... 1 is Jan-March, 2 is April-June, 3 is July-Sept, and 4 is Oct-Dec. A razor made in the year of 1961 will have the letter G, followed by the number relating to the quarter of its manufacture.

Why do safety razor blades have numbers? ›

Some brands of razor blades stamp the blades so that if there is a quality control concern during the manufacturing process there is a way to identify the sides of the blade. Usually the blade has "1 2" on one side and "3 4" on the other.

Why did people stop using safety razors? ›

Safety razors lost popularity in the late 20th century when cartridge razors became widely available. Marketing was a key factor in the popularity of cartridge razor systems over safety razors.

How many shaves should a safety razor last? ›

How Long Does A Safety Razor Blade Last? The general rule you are wet shaving daily you will need to replace your blades after five to six shaves or once a week.

Are safety razors making a comeback? ›

Instead of taking apart the head to change blades, you could just pop off the cartridge and throw it away. But in the last few years, safety razors have made a comeback as more people realize that they give a closer shave for better hair removal, help you save money and are better from the environment.

Are safety razors good for pubic hair? ›

While a disposable razor will certainly remove hair, safety razors for women can take this to the next level by providing you with an even closer shave. Ultimately thanks to its sharper blade. Ideal for those delicate areas too, such as the bikini line.

What is the expiry date of Gillette guard blade? ›

Gillette Guard Razor Blades feature a single-blade system lined with a safety comb to prevent nicks and cuts. Important Information Country of origin : India Shelf life : 3 Years The product image(s) shown are representative of the actual product.

Does Gillette after shave expire? ›

Yes, aftershave can expire, however it can last from 6 months to 5 years depending on the ingredients and how it is stored. However, the fragrance usually diminishes over time.

How long should Gillette razors last? ›

Razors typically last five to 10 shaves, so keep track of how often you use one to better estimate when you're going to need to replace it. If you're able to and your razor is designed for it, consider sharpening your blades as it may make them last longer.

When should I throw away my Gillette razor? ›

You may notice it's getting dull if it pulls at hair when shaving or feels rough on your skin or if you develop more skin irritation after shaving than you have in the past. Razors typically last five to 10 shaves, so keep track of how often you use one to better estimate when you're going to need to replace it.

How long should a Gillette razor blade last? ›

5-Blade Razors: For a comfortable shave, we recommend replacing the blades used in our 5-blade razors (such as our Fusion5 and ProGlide ranges) after 20 shaves. 3-Blade Razors: For our 3-blade razors (such as our Mach3 range), we recommend changing your razor blade heads after around 15 shaves.

What is the expiry date of Gillette Venus razor blades? ›

Maximum Shelf Life36 Months
TypeStraight Razors
Pivoting Razor HeadYes
Number of Cartridges1
3 more rows

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