I’m from Michigan originally. I say originally because if I were to just say, “I’m from Michigan.” it would be inaccurate. I was born in Michigan and then quickly moved away at the tender age of one year old. I did end up coming back eventually. I lived in various towns and cities in Michigan on and off for approximately half of my life. I have lived in roughly thirty cities all over the world, but Michigan is where I began. So, while I may not be a true Michigander, I do consider it my de facto home.
Michigan is an odd state, much more diverse than people might believe. The areas in and around Dearborn and Detroit have the largest Arab population in the world, outside of the Middle East. You’re just as likely to see signs in Arabic or Farsi as in English or Spanish. Places with French names like Detroit (originally pronounced: deh-TWAH), Charlevoix (pronounced: SHAR-luh-voy), Mackinac (pronounced: MAC-in-NAW), and Sault Ste Marie (pronounced: SOO-saint-muhree) are common because the French loggers and trappers were the original European settlers in the area. There is a huge Greek and German population as well. There are actually towns where German is the more common language and the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan holds an annual Greek festival that literally takes over down town for several days. The Mennonite and Amish population are pretty well represented as well. There are an enormous amount of orchards, wineries, vineyards, and fruit markets, all of which attracts a substantial seasonal worker population of various Hispanic folks. And in west Michigan there is a town called Holland. This town is, as you might assume, primarily Dutch in ancestry. They have an annual tulip festival, there is a good portion of the population that speaks at least a little Dutch, and they have phone books filled with names like Voorhees and Van Der This or Van Der That. The Dutch are actually quite well represented in west Michigan in general, you’re as likely to meet a person with far too many Os or As in their name as you are to meet a guy named Smith. So, Michigan is a melting pot of sorts and I was lucky enough to interact with many of these different cultures. One of my good friends in highschool was an Egyptian guy who came to the US via Germany, so he taught me a bit of Arabic and helped me to study German while I taught him how to turn an “independent study” into an ongoing rubber band war with the Spanish teacher.
When I was learning German in highschool I was also learning Dutch on the side, because in a west Michigan town with more Dutch place names than English ones that’s just the way it was. I was quite fluent in German by the time I left for the military, but I never really took to Dutch. I liked the Dutch culture, but the language was just too close to German for me to learn both at the same time without mixing things up. These languages served me well when I dated a Pennsylvania Dutch girl, whose grandparents were ex-Mennonites, but beyond that I haven’t spoken German in nearly ten years and my Dutch is even further away. It still makes me smile when I’m able to pick up a sentence or two, but I would not claim to be able to speak either language any more. All of this brings me to my point, in a very round about manner. I see Germanic cultures and people, especially the Dutch and Germans, as very close cousins to Americans. I feel a sort of kinship with the Dutch, so when I learned that they had some pretty well thought of shaving gear I was curious, to say the least. When an opportunity to get my hands on some new old stock, Dutch made, double edge razor blades popped up I jumped on it.
A very kind member of The Shave Den gifted me a package of ten Max Herder Elite blades which, after an unfortunate snafu involving the postal service and what I can only assume was an overzealous sorting machine, have finally landed on my doorstep. As soon as I had my paws on these blades I knew that I needed to do a Dutch themed shave, so I pulled out my puck of De Vergulde Hand Extra Fris soap, my Van Der Hagen boar brush (yes, I know it’s an American company, but they have Dutch roots), and my Gillette super speed (Ok, I don’t own a Dutch razor, but I’m sure that Mr. Gillette KNEW some Dutch folks…), I loaded up a Max Herder Elite blade, tuned my computer to http://www.nederland.fm, and got down to it.
Following my usual prep I performed a two pass with the grain/against the grain shave followed by a cold water rinse. The shave left me baby butt smooth and left my skin soft and with zero irritation. I did manage to get a pretty good nick on the left side of my chin, but that was entirely my own fault. The DVH Extra Fris soap continues to make me happy, providing an excellent lather and leaving my skin soft and pleasantly scented. I would love to try either the regular DVH soap or the shave stick. The VDH boar brush did a passable job with this soap, but was nothing remarkable. The Max Herder Elite blades were crazy sharp. These Dutch made Swedish steel blades mowed down my stubble in record time and with zero difficulty. These blades are so sharp that I could have stopped after one pass and had a damn fine shave. They are a little bit harsh, but not in an unmanageable way, if you begin with a little bit of respect for the insanely sharp edge on these blades, then you will be rewarded for your caution with an extremely close and comfortable shave. The one nick that I received happened because my hand slipped on my first pass…it didn’t even begin to bleed until I was rinsing off after my second pass. I have a feeling that my capillaries were so shocked at how easily and cleanly they were severed that they didn’t know that they were supposed to bleed all over my face until then. In spite of the nick, my shave was very pleasant and enjoyable. I’m sad that these blades are not in current production, I would absolutely buy some if they were available. I am happy to say that the Dutch make some awesome shaving gear and I’ll have to see if I can find a Dutch made straight razor in the near future, but in the mean time I’ll continue to enjoy my Max Herder Elite blades.
Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: Gillette black handled super speed
Blade: Max Herder Elite
Brush: Van Der Hagen basic boar
Soap: De Vergulde Hand Extra Fris
Post: Cold water rinse
De Vergulde Hand Extra Fris:
Van Der Hagen basic boar brush: