Classifying the Gillette Adjustable Razors: A Scientific Taxonomy
Please refer to the chart above.
There are 3 major characteristics used to classify these razors from their FAMILY (leftmost - 1st column) into a specific TYPE (5th column from left).
1) COLOR. (column 4 from left) The first characteristic is the external plating appearance or color used by Gillette in the factory. There were two basic colors of plating; either nickel or gold. But, color can distinguish razors besides plating. For example, there are black painted Bottom Dials. I have put the black painted 1-5 position Bottom Dial razor as it's own type because this distinguishes it from the nickel plated Bottom Dial razors. Also, color can be used to separate the Super Adjustables with black plastic bottom plates from the Super-109's with nickel plated bottom plates. Color is a differentiator.
2) POS or MAX ADJUSTMENT DIAL POSITION. (column 3 from the left) The second characteristic which can differentiate these razors in their families is the maximum position indicator on the adjustment dial. All of the adjustables have 9 distinct adjustment positions; either 1 , (2) , 3 , (4) , 5 , (6) , 7 , (8) , 9 with a maximum indicated position of 9 or 9 distinct adjustment positions 1 , (1.5) , 2 , (2.5) , 3 , (3.5) , 4 , (4.5) , 5 with a maximum indicated position of 5. I have listed them as either a 9 POS or a 5 POS. There were only two different maximum positions - 9 or 5 so it is also a differentiator just like color.
3) MODEL or BILL OF MATERIALS (BOM). (column 2 from the left) The third characteristic I call the MODEL. When Gillette built razors they would have a specific list of parts used to build it. This parts list is also called a bill of materials or BOM. The color of the parts would not matter at this point to determine a MODEL. For example, the Standard Slim and the Aristocrat Slim are identical excepting color. They have the same BOM so I categorize them as being the same MODEL. The same is true of the two different Serial Toggles. One MODEL in two different colors. The same is true of the 1-5 position Bottom Dials. Identical razors excepting on has a nickel dial and the other has a black painted dial. Again, if the parts were the same excepting color I call them the same MODEL.
In order to keep the number of TYPES reasonable, I did not consider a slight version or revision difference enough of a change to be able to create a new TYPE. For example, there are 4 versions or REVs of what I call the Standard Fatboy with different collets or retainer caps or handles or etc (See below). There were three REVs of the Standard Slims and different base plate shapes in the Super Adjustables. Also, there are weird anomalous razor examples that have made it out into the hands of collectors. If there are strange stamping examples, they did not get their own TYPE. Different date code stampings too; these are too minor of differences in my opinion. Similarly this is why the unusual Executive Fatboys that were built with Standard Fatboy TTO knob parts did not get their own TYPE in the system. However, it is different enough to get it's own SUB-TYPE. Others may differ with me on that decision but it is what it is. How many types are too many? 18 is plenty. Call the REVs and other anomalies SUB-TYPES if you like. Each of the 4 different versions of Standard Fatboy would get it's own SUB-TYPE. And each different DATE CODE of Standard Fatboy would get its own SUB-SUB-TYPE. And so it goes. The names of the razors at the SUB-TYPE and SUB-SUB-TYPE get too long and unwieldy, therefore I am not bothering to name the classified razors at the SUB-TYPE level or beyond. For example, what do we call a Standard Fatboy that has a blued collet, crimped on retainer cap and a date code of F-2? Such beasts exist and would have to be named (if we bothered).
So, in this system there are:
50 SUB-TYPES (Including all REVs, guessing )
150 SUB-SUB-TYPES (Including all DATE CODES, approximately 30 years times 4 manufacturing quarters plus 30 for good measure?)
My friends, to collect one of each of all the different adjustable kinds, you would have about 150 razors in your collection!! Start your collection today and race me there?