A Reference Resource and Historical Archive.
Gillette Adjustable Razors
Many novices dealing with Gillette Adjustable razors on the auction sites confuse the Fatboy and the Slim. This primer will show you how to easily distinguish between and identify the two different razor types..
The earliest Fatboys (Version 1), from 1958, had a visible nickel collar just below the adjustment dial, a black band at the top of the handle and a slotted retainer cap. Then, around 1959, Gillette changed the Fatboy (Version 2) collet from nickel plated (chrome colored collar appearance) to bluing (blue-black colored collar appearance) and eliminated the black band on the top edge of handle. Around the beginning of 1960, the Fatboy (Version 3) bottom plate changed to become shorter and more simply made; this would not have been externally visible (so, Versions 3 and 4 would appear the same externally.) Then around 1961, the Fatboy (Version 4) lost the service notches in its retainer cap when Gillette went from threads to crimp fitting. . .
If you have one of each type in a picture, let's say of a razor lot photo, the Fatboy is easy to find. It's handle is fatter than the Slim and the Fatboy is a shorter razor too. The Slim is long and lean compared to the "Fatty".
Celebrity Endorsement Contracts between Casey Stengel and Gillette
Look at the Twist-To-Open Knob
1958 D-3 First model of Fatboy
An advertisement offering and introducing the new Super Blue Blade on January 12, 1960 in The Pensacola News (Page 9).
Sometimes it is easier to identify the razor type by looking at the twist-to-open knob. The TTO knob on the Fatboy is wider than it's handle in a more pronounced way than on the Slim. That is, the TTO knob on the Slim is closer to the same diameter of it's handle. So, look for a wide knob relative to the handle - if there is a big difference, it's a Fatboy. Also, the Fatty's TTO knob is stubby - most of the added length of a Slim is in the TTO knob. Ok, it's easy now! No more calling a Slim a Fatboy in the auction pictures.
The following is one of the most complete F-1 (1960) NOS Fatboy sets that could be obtained.This is how it would have looked coming from the factory. The blades are a sealed Super Blue 6-pack. Note also the warranty card is blue in color.This set was not sold in a retail outlet but was mailed directly from Gillette's offices to the recipient, hence the shipper and letter from the Gillette President Vincent C. Ziegler. The recipients name has faded out of recognition.
February 1, 2017 $204.21 (292010177346).
August 29, 2017 $299.99 (162650958839)
The models change visibly over time!
The Earlier Fatboy Sealed 6-Pak:
Blue Blades with Warranty Card.
December 24, 2016 1959 E-4 $257.63 (152356490226)
Gillette 195 ADJUSTABLE 1960
Razor Advertisement (France)
A Really Nice Complete Standard Fatboy Set
Some Advertisements Related to the Fatboy
Origin of the Name "Fatboy"
Comparing the Fatboy to the Slim: An Identification Primer
A Proper Later Fatboy Set: Correct razor without collar; Sealed pack that includes two items: Super Blue blades 6-pak and "Easy Does It" instruction sheet; and separate unsealed Warranty card.
June 15, 1960 The Terre Haute Tribune (Page 11). Fatboy with the new Super Blue Blades.
Look at the Adjuster Dial
Changes in the Fatboy Sealed Blade Pack
Gillette 195 ADJUSTABLE August 1963
Razor Advertisement (Australia)
(AUP-1960 0.25.0 = AUD-1960 2.50 = USD-1960 2.80 = USD-2017 23.04)
The Slim had been out for 2 years in the United States.
However, if the razor is all alone in the picture, it is more difficult to identify the correct razor type. So let's graduate to the next level. If the picture shows the adjustment dial, the easiest way to determine the razor type is by looking at the knurling on the adjustment dial. Knurling is the raised area on the dial that allows the user to get a good grip on the dial. Notice the knurling on the Fatboy - the giveaway is the Fatboy has veritcal knurling only. The Slim's adjustment dial has both horizontal and vertical knurling grouped into blocks.
1961 G-4 Last model of Fatboy
The Later Fatboy Sealed 6-Pak:
Super Blue Blades with "Easy Does It" Instruction Sheet (No warranty card).
December 12, 1961 The Detroit Free Press (Page 96). Fatboy and the new Aristocrat Slim available for Christmas.
A Proper Early Fatboy Set: Correct razor with collar; Sealed pack that includes two items: Blue blades 6-pak with gold lettering and Warranty card; and separate unsealed black "Revolutionary!" instruction sheet.
This Fatboy is also pristine. Protected by the ravages of time by a blister pack. This is how Gillette would later be selling the slims. Photo courtesy of Bill Parsons. Many thanks.
An E-2 Fatboy Sealed 6-Pak:
Blue Blades with "Revolution"
Instruction Sheet. (No warranty card).
This is a very rare Salesman's Showcase Demonstrator Kit (1961). This would have been used for presentation to a prospective high value dealer chain buyer that would merit a personal sales call. Photos courtesy of Michael "Shorty".
February 25, 2017 $157.75 (142285830602).
December 6, 1959 The Salt Lake Tribune (Page 171). Fatboy with Blue Blades.
Part Changes in the Fatboy
So, I have a theory about "FatBoy". The official name of the Fatboy was the "Gillette 195 Adjustable Razor". I have a letter from Vincent C. Ziegler, President of the Gillette Safety Razor Company (a division of The Gillette Company), dated February 8, 1960 that specifically calls the Fatboy that name. However, one June 3, 1962, I have a Gillette Advertisement in The Salt Lake Tribune (P.80) that calls the newly designed razor model the "Gillette Slim Adjustable Razor". This ad goes on to compare and contrast the new "Slim" to the older "195". The "Slim" is trimmer, slimmer. longer and lighter than the "195". I believe that at some point after the introduction of the "Slim" people started calling the older "195"... Fat! The term "Fat Boy" is also used to describe a massive motorcycle produced by Harley-Davidson in 1990. They say the name could have come from a combination of "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" the names of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War II. On Wikipedia the term Fat Boy seems to be associated with a song names in the early 1990s. My guess as to when the name took on most of it's popularity.
How to tell the difference between a Gillette Fatboy and a Slim
April 1959 World Champion New York Yankees Pocket Schedule with Fatboy Endorsement Advertisements featuring Casey Stengel, Gil McDougald, and Hank Bauer
Below is the "Easy Does It" instruction sheet used from 1959 - 1961 (E-3 to G-4) Gillette Fatboys. Instructions show how to load the newly introduced Super Blue Blades (Invented by Gillette employee Meyer Shnitzler which were silicone coated carbon-steel blades that cut whiskers with less pulling and required less pressure to get a smooth shave; hence the slogan "Easy Does It").
Below is the "Revolutionary" instruction sheet used from 1958 - 1959 (D-3 to E-2) Gillette Fatboys. Instructions show how to load Blue Blades.
The Gillette 195 Adjustable Safety Razor or as it is more commonly known the "Fatboy" was made for a little over three years between 1958 (D-3) and 1961 (G-4). The original retail list price was $1.95 and this is where the 195 comes from in its proper name. Sometimes it is also called a "Fat Boy". This is one of the most popular Gillette Adjustable Safety Razors and prices for these have been going up on popular auction sites for many years. The models from 1958 D-3 through 1960 F-2 are especially popular because they are more easily taken apart to be cleaned. This is because the retainer cap in the end of the handle has two service notches that allow for partial disassembly. Another change occurred during the E-3 period. During the E-3 period, Gillette redesigned the part that appears just below the adjustment dial and eliminated a small collar just below the adjuster's knurling. So that means you can find E-3's with and without collars. See pictures below. So there are different designs of the Standard Fatboy razor - The razors from D-3 to E-3a (collar and service notches) - The razors from E-3b to F-2 (no collar but with service notches) - And finally, the razors from F-3 to G-4 (no collar and no service notches). Recently it was discovered that there exists some F-3's, F-4's and even a G-3 with service notches (but these are more rare); this implies that there were multiple lines making Fatboys, some lines using the old parts and some lines using the new parts. The internal design of the Bottom Plate was also changed but this can only be seen when the razor is disassembled. The adjustment dial on all Fatboys has nine positions and starts at "1" and clicks at each number until you reach "9", the most aggressive setting. These razors weighs 79 grams.