I tried my Darwin DeLuxe ...
The case has been very well restored, clean, shiny and free of scratches, so kudos to the fellow I bought it from for his excellent polishing work.
The hone has two sides - Fine and Course. Looking at the instructions, there is mention of two kinds of strop paste: Fine and Course. I guess the hone is no smoother one side or the other, but gained its abrasiveness from the strop paste. The instructions also mention to maintain the strop with olive oil, so I massaged in a little olive oil into the fine side and stropped the better of the two blades.
There were two blades included, one with a sort of spider webbing on the edge, the other appeared perfectly good and was itself already sharp, as proven by just touching it to my thumb. I gave that a damn good stropping, loaded up the razor and got going ...
Bulldog Face Wash
Mitchell's Wool Fat Soap
Kent Infinity Silvertex
Hot Rinse, Cold Rinse & Alum Wash
Quorum After Shave
Three Pass - WTG, XTG & ATG; High, Medium & Low, respectively
Face washed, brush wet, flicked out and loaded up in the soap, lathered on wet face and I had more than enough for three passes.
The blade itself is adjustable by a small turn of the screw in the middle of the blade, which raises or lowers the blade in relation to the frame. In the end of the handle is a screw-out driver.
I was sceptical of the adjustable nature of the blade since I expected to use it like I would the Rolls Razor simply angling it against my face and scraping, like a mini-straight on a stick ... not so! Actually, the razor works out best used like any early single edge razor with a wedge or hollow ground blade.
Talking of Rolls Razor, their blades will work in the frame once their protective bar is slipped off. Somehow, this blade gets to be sharper than the Rolls Razor blade. Maybe it's the initial grind, maybe the angle in the case when stropping. I don't know ...
... but the shave went ahead very smoothly and I finished up with a good and very presentable shave, much akin to any shave with a wedge or hollow ground in a single edge frame, be it Rolls Razor, Wilkinson Sword or one of those more antique lather catchers.
The blade has screw-threaded holes each side which correspond to the pitch of the tip of the handle. Great for pushing the blade into the stropping clip, inserting into the head and so on, but also useful simply to have the raw blade on a stick in the orientation of a sort of Edwardian British kamisori. I finished up neatening off around my sideburns with the blade au naturel.
An excellent experience, and one I will repeat ... as I will with my Rolls Razors and Wilkinson Swords. It's not a daily shaver for me, but when I feel like spending a little more time and really make the best of preparation, this is a shave I'll reach for.