For a man with minimal hair my need for a brush may at first blush seem limited. That is until you look at the beautiful brushes produced by companies such as Mason Pearson and G B Kent & Sons – there are things in life that I can appreciate even without the need to use them!
Just looking at the intracy of persuading a pure boar bristle to stay mounted to a fine wooden handle and to remain attached for many years of grooming. These brushes are not only iconic but they seem devilishly complicated to make – and even more so as some are hand-made.
Somewhere deep in childhood I seem to have, incorrectly, understood, in a routined pink for a girl blue for a boy kind of way, that Mason Pearson made brushes for women whereas Kent made brushes for men. In fact, both companies have extensive ranges for men, women and children – as well as specialist brushes. My Grandmother had a large pure boar bristle Mason Pearson brush and my wife and daughters each have a medium sized Mason Pearson. My Father, who had a distinguished military career prior to commerce, always had a Kent brush – that I think may have been military issue – on his bathroom mirror shelf an in his travel case.
Mason Pearson Brushes was founded in 1860 by a Bradford (Yorkshire, UK) Engineer of the same name who, having had some experience in the weaving business left, with his young wife Mary, for London’s East End to work with brushes. His automation of much of the brush making process resulted in 1885 in Mason being awarded a Silver Medal at the International Inventions Exhibition in London. In the same year his invention of the “pneumatic” rubber-cushion hairbrush became core Mason Pearson product and with some redevelopment between 1905 and 1920’s the resulting 1885 brush sold today is little changed since its first launch.
On Mason’s death Mary, eldest son Mason Jnr and his sisters ran the business for a further twenty years from premises off the Old Ford Road (London E3). In 1986 the business relocated to Stratford but moved in 2009 to give way for the London Olympics that resulted in a move to Rainham in Essex. The business is still owned by the Pearson family and continues to thrive.
The pure bristle versions of the iconic Mason Pearson brush come in several sizes. I understand that for the bedroom/bathroom the B1 and B2 sizes are preferred whereas for the handbag the B3 – the “handy” size – and the B4 – the “pocket” size – are perfect. Get your favourite by clicking the AMAZON link below the image of your choice
G.B Kent & Sons Ltd, was founded in 1777 by William Kent and has, very impressively, held unbroken Royal Warrants for now nine reigns. In 1932 the company was acquired by Eric Cosby, the owner of Cosby Brushes Ltd. It was a dynamic and creative alliance. Today Eric’s grandson, Alan, is Managing Director and Chairman and his wife and four children work for the business.
Kent Brushes moved from its old London factory – as seen depicted in the videos below – to Apsley (Hertfordshire, UK) in 1984 and remains there today. The companies reputation is based on its craftsmanship and quality combining hand-made techniques with the latest hi-tech developments in brush making.
Kent iconic brushes are known in the barbering trade as the “lifetimes brush”!
For me, there are two clear and different buying options for the prospective Kent brush purchaser. It’s true, that they look similar – but for the tell-tale screw fixed back – but the first is 100% hand-made progressing through different processes to arrive at the definitive men’s hair brush:
The alternative is a largely machine made version but just as appealing:
There are many men who have a beard and the perfect accompanient to their grooming regime is the Kent Beard Brush – this is a right handed version.
Get yours here – Kent Right Handed Beard Brush
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Image credits – thanks to Mason Pearson and G.B Kent and Sons Plc.