In 1911 a high school junior by the name of Leo J. Wahl began experimenting with an electromagnetic motor. Who knew he would found the worlds largest clipper corporation.
While Leo attended the University of Illinois he designed a medical massager that his uncle Dr. J. Frank Wahl began to manufacture and he began to sell at barbershops.
While frequenting barbershops he realized there were many tools that needed improvement. Leo eventually took over his uncle’s manufacturing business and started working on a new electric hair clipper.
On October 14, 1919 Leo J. Wahl applied for a patent and Wahl manufacturing company was born. Leo’s electromagnetic clipper was the first practical clipper with a drive motor in the hand. By the end of the 1920’s Wahl manufactured and sold approximately 1,000 clippers all over the United States.
Receiving his patent on February 2, 1921 Leo purchased 100% of the Wahl manufacturing company his uncle started. Leo renamed and incorporated as Wahl Clipper Corporation. Much money was made from patent infringement royalties and penalties paid to Wahl by others.
In the 1940’s Wahl expanded its production to hair dryers, shear sharpeners, curling brushes, combs and attachments for hair clippers. These additions made productions close to 2,000 items per day.
In 1957 Leo J. Wahl’s life ended on May 20th. Mr. Wahl had applied for over 100 patents on many different inventions.
Over the years the Wahl Clipper Company has maintained its leading edge on its competitors with the first cordless clipper, cordless rechargeable soldering iron, foot and back massager and the worlds first battery operated facial hair trimmer.
Wahl Clipper Corporation is an international industry leader in the manufacture of consumer personal care appliances and products for the professional beauty and barber salon trade. The company currently employs many people worldwide in Australia, Canada, China, England, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Japan and the United States.
Wahl Clipper Corporation made a major commitment to international business and opened operations in South Africa and Brazil. Besides opening new operations in other countries, they also introduced three new products to the Wahl family: The Complete Hair cutting Kit for Dummies, the Wahl Deluxe Chrome Pro Complete Hair cutting Kit, and the Porta-Clip (Barber in a Bucket).
American Barber Supplies began to buy scented shaving soaps from over seas in the early1840’s. The shaving soaps were packaged in porcelain containers decorated with fancy advertisements. By 1870 paper wrapped soap replaced the containers to be used with a shaving mug.
Occupational Shaving Mugs are at the top of the list when it comes to barbershop collectibles. At the beginning of 1870’s most men owned a shaving mug at home or at his barbershop. The patrons thought it would aid in reducing the rashes caught from the barber but actually it was the unsanitary razors that caused the rashes. Shaving mugs also were a status symbol for barbers and customers as well. The amount of mugs a barber had on display would represent his clientele base. From 1870 to 1920 millions of shaving mugs were produced making them fairly available today. On any day one can connect to eBay and find hundreds of shaving mugs to bid on. Antique shaving mugs range from tens to thousands of dollars depending on how rare the occupation was the more expensive the shaving mug.
Hand Painted occupational shaving mugs are excellent examples of American folk art. Blank mugs were shipped from Germany and France to the US to be painted. Of course all mugs are not created equal. There are personalized mugs with mild detail and those with serious artistry including gold leaf trimming and ceramic glazes then a few sessions in a gas kiln. Collectors simply call it “Eye Appeal.”
Distinctions In Collectible Shaving Mugs is between the mugs used at home and those used in barbershops. Shaving mugs used at home had more appeal, style, shape and artistic expression. They were also the least expensive and could be found in almost any home and purchased from a local catalog.
“In 1932 Katherine Morrison Kahle wrote a article on old time shaving mugs which was published in Magazine Antiques and they have been popular collectible ever since.” “By 1949 writer/collector Porter Ware had collected more than 500 different mugs and wrote a book on shaving mugs.”
If you are interested in becoming a collector here are a few leads. NASMC contact Penny Nader, treasurer, at 320 S. Glenwood St. Allentown PA 18104, www.journalofantiques.com
The Modern Barber Pole originated
in the day when blood letting was one of the principal duties of the barbering trade. The two spiral ribbons painted around the pole represented two long bandages, one twisted around the arm before bleeding (to make the vein stand out), and the other used to bind it afterwards.
The patient clutched the staff firmly during the entire operation. Originally, when not in use, the pole with bandage pre-wound (so it might be ready when needed) was hung at the door as a sign. Later an imitation was painted and given a permanent place on the sidewalk outside.” So states the Barber’s Manual.
Some historians credit the blue stripe on the American poles as having been transported from blue and white bands on English poles of the 1700’s. Other authorities say that American barbers added the blue stripe to their red and white poles as a patriotic gesture.
The majority of early American barber poles were freestanding sidewalk pillars ranging from six to twelve feet in height. During the late 1890’s municipal authorities began to outlaw barber poles and cigar store Indians as public safety hazards. The wooden Indians were taken inside for a while, but eventually
more than 100,000 of thee obsolete figures were thrown in rivers, buried in garbage dumps or fed to fireplaces. Only about 3,000 authentic cigar store Indians exist today in museums and private collections.
Most wooden barber poles simply did not survive the outdoor elements
of wind, rain, and hungry termites. Although not as rare as tobacco figures, early poles with original paint intact are quite scarce. Recent auction prices have ranged from $1,000 to $12,000 each. Among the most valuable today are the flat sided stained glass poles that often hung in hotel lobbies.
Koch’s offered a 12-inch diameter leaded glass globe in their 1926 catalog. Few of these have survived
Modern barber poles, with revolving
interior cylinders, cost from $300 to $750 each and are still available from the last remaining factory outlet, the William Marvy company of 1538 St,. Clair Avenue,
St. Paul Minnesota. The Marvy factory has produced more than 75,000 poles over the last half century. Today much of their activity
centers around replacement parts and restoration work; but they still offer a selection of nine barber
poles ranging from eighteen to forty- seven inches tall.