Every serious traditional wet shaver who purchases or already has in their possession a vintage razor ponders the question of whether or not to replate their razor. Maybe the razor is an heirloom passed down from a relative or a capture in the wild of a vintage razor at a flea market, yard sale or estate auction. You wonder about maintaining the razors's value as a collector but to me the more central question is: will it shave better?
Serious collectors of antique vintage razors generally don't purchase razors that need replating in the first place. Instead they go after the near mint finds and pay a premium for it's fine condition, often seeking those items with original case, blades or possibly even an original blade case. The collectors that want a razor to retain it's resale or intrinsic collecting value will definitely choose not to replate their razor. To replate would definitely decrease the collector value. Collectors want an item unaltered and original.
But most "collectors" like me, who collect vintage and modern razors for the pleasure of using them and appreciating the craftsmanship of a time past, enjoy the beauty of the razor in addition to how it shaves. We sometimes resell our razors or trade them if they grow out of favor in our shave dens and want someone who will use it and appreciate it more to have it...or we just want to get a different item and experience a wider range of traditional wet shaving products and tools. Whatever the reason, replating a razor for the general traditional wet shaver will only increase the value and improve it's desirability with fellow vintage razor enthusiasts.
So, should a traditional hobbyist replate their razor. Well, the answer must come from the desire of the hobbyist themselves. I had previously not had a razor replated before. Economically I wasn't in a place where I could afford it. I had shaved with vintage razors for a long time. Some were in very good condition and did not need replating to provide an "as if I lived in the past" experience when using it. But many vintage razors have been used a lot over the years and repeated use and time has taken its toll. The metal plating has worn off or there needs to be some kind of adjustments or repair. Many purists strongly state that they prefer a razor in its original condition. I disagree.
Sure I enjoy a nice patina on some razors but being truthful I like shiny things...polished things....things that could pass for brand new in 1935. My Aristocrat was is rough shape when I received it. My good shaving buddy David Marshburn very kindly PIF'd (Paid It Forward) to me over a year ago. This TTO (Twist To Open) razor was suffering from what is called "handle drop" which is when the pressure band on the handle has worked loose and when closing the gates of the razor head you must apply upward pressure to push the doors closed. This razor was originally plated in gold. A lot of the plating had worn off. I cleaned up the razor and polished it the best I could and it looked good. But I prefer razors that are silver looking. The nickel or rhodium or silver razors are the ones that catches my eye. Gold is a very soft metal and does wear off easily. Many vintage gold plated razors also have a thin layer of lacquer applied to protect the finish. This finish wears off, particularly when exposed to very hot water over time.
In it's worn and poorly functioning state this razor still shaved very well. At times it did shave a bit rough and that is the prime benefit or replating a vintage razor. It shaves smoother. Good slick metal plate on a razor head provides less drag and resistance when shaving. It's not a deal breaker kind of difference but enough to be noticed.
I chose to have my razor replated at Razor Emporium. They did a very good job and were very honest in their appraisal of the results stating that not all of the scratches could be buffed out prior to the replating, but they are hardly noticeable. After all, this is a vintage razor and it's almost 90 years old. Just like many old gals that get a face lift...they may look better with smoothed out skin and a multitude of wrinkles removed by plastic surgery but they are still older gals and some road mileage just can't be removed even by expert rehabilitation technicians.
Needless to say I am not sorry I replated this razor. It cost $79 plus shipping for rhodium which is a harder brighter metal. Silver may be brighter or lighter in complection but the silver or nickel will wear away faster and they will tarnish and rhodium won't.
Here's my video for your viewing pleasure. I also discuss Stirling Soap Company Stirling Spice Shave Soap and a vintage after shave I recently found.
Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe