My Favourite Artifact: Brown and Sharpe Hair Clippers

Over the Victoria Day long weekend (Sun May 18/Mon May 19), the Oshawa Community Museum will open its summer exhibition, IT’Story: Stories from the OCM Collection, highlighting artifacts in our collection with fascinating stories to tell.

For the next seven weeks, our Visitor Hosts and other Museum staff will share their favourite artifacts and why they are favourites.


By Lisa Terech, Youth Engagement / Programs

I have a bias when it comes to my favourite artifact.

In early 2010, my grandfather passed away, and my family was faced with the difficult task of preparing his house for sale.  In our searches through Grandpa’s house, we came across a set of old barber equipment, including clippers, razors and an early electric razor!  My parents, aunts, and uncles were a little unsure of what to do with these objects; at this time, I was a volunteer for the Oshawa Museum, and I suggested that we donate them.

A010.19.11 - The Trainor family, likely taken at their St. Lawrence Street home.  George Trainor is standing, left.
A010.19.11 – The Trainor family, likely taken at their St. Lawrence Street home. George Trainor is standing, left.

The barber tools belonged to my (step)grandmother’s father, George Trainor, who was a barber in Oshawa.  For many years, the family lived on St. Lawrence Street, while George had a shop at 789 Simcoe Street, what was the community of Cedar Dale.  In all, we donated 7 artifacts as well as archival materials relating the the Trainor family.

010.14.1b, Metal Hair Clippers
010.14.1b, Metal Hair Clippers

These clippers are imprinted:  “Made by Brown and Sharpe Mfg. Co. Prov. R.I., Pat’d in Great Britain Bte En France St. G.D.G., USA Patents July 1-79, June 3-84, Aug 23-92.”  The underside is imprinted with “No. 0,” indicating the length that this clipper would cut.

From Popular Science, August 1923, p. 86.
From Popular Science, August 1923, p. 86.

Brown and Sharpe was founded in 1833 and was known as a tool maker.  They stopped making hair clippers after World War II.  These clippers were likely made between 1892 and 1901, based on patent information and the patent dates on this set.

While I never met my grandmother’s family, these artifacts remain my favourite in the collection because they remind me of my Grandma Doreen, and they make me proud that I have a connection to Oshawa’s past.

10 thoughts on “My Favourite Artifact: Brown and Sharpe Hair Clippers”

  1. You did what I believe we all should consider; donating some of our family history to museums, historical societies, or to a suitable organization. I feel this is better than taking the chance that future generations may not place the proper value on these heirlooms.

    1. Thanks for the comment! Because of the history and provenance associated with these clippers, they are invaluable to us; if you are looking for a precise money value, we would recommend seeking an appraiser, antiques collector, or another such professional.

  2. Hi there I have some Brown & Sharpe Clippers after my grandfather died in New Zealand.Very old, but different design to your ones..

  3. I have a set of brown and sharp bressant trade mark clippers ri pat d n great britten en france sg dg usa patents july 1-79 june 3-84 aug 23-92 in good working condition, have some rust, No1. without an appraiser, what might they be worth?

      1. I came across an identical pair of these, so as I was taking them apart to restore them, there is an ingraved Swastika inside the clippers as If the were manufactured like that. Is this common or can I send some pictures for someone to tell me what it is, or if they were actually used in a holocaust death camp.

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