Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cartier 1968

I can't say whether I look to this for inspiration or just diversion, but Cartier's catalog for the 1968 holiday season is a piece of ephemera I'm happy to have. We will skip the jewelry and head directly to some of the upmarket gift choices for men during what was clearly a very expressive era in American style. If you want to know what it all costs in today's prices, multiplying by 7 will give you a rough idea.

Incidentally, I'd take any of those cufflinks and the bird decanter. And the table lighter, of course.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

House Beautiful Indeed

W. Hawkins Ferry is best known for authorizing the definitive book on Detroit architecture, "The Buildings of Detroit." But he was also a philanthropist, collector, educator and modernist and was responsible for such great things as the core of the Detroit Institute of Art's modern art collection, the Marcel Breuer-designed Grosse Pointe Public Library and his own International Style home on the shores of Lake St. Clair, designed by noted local architect William Kessler in the 1960s.

Built as a house for art and entertaining, the residence was featured as the cover story in the September 1969 issue of House Beautiful. Here are a couple scans of this really incredible house to inspire you, or make you feel really inadequate. Most of the art you see in there (dig the Giacometti sculpture) can now be found at the DIA. The floorplan should be helpful to you when the time comes for you to design your own home.

Interior view of the Hawkins Ferry House in Grosse Pointe Shores, MI. (From the Sept 1969 issue of House Beautiful).

Rear view of the Hawkins Ferry House in Grosse Pointe Shores, MI. (From the Sept 1969 issue of House Beautiful).

Interior view of the Hawkins Ferry House in Grosse Pointe Shores, MI. (From the Sept 1969 issue of House Beautiful).

Floor plan of the Hawkins Ferry House in Grosse Pointe Shores, MI. (From the Sept 1969 issue of House Beautiful).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Which watch

We sell some great watches, specifically the reissued 1970s Braun wristwatches. We love them, especially this digital baby.

1978 Braun DW30 Digital Watch reissue, Dietrich Lubs & Dieter Rams
1978 Braun DW30 Digital Watch reissue, Dietrich Lubs & Dieter Rams

We don't sell any of the watches below featured in the August 1969 issue of Playboy. They don't even make any of them anymore. But they remind us to buy cool watches while the gettin' is good. From left to right: Bulova, Longines, Bueche-Girod, Omega, Piaget, Girard Perregaux. (click image to enlarge)

Watches of the era. Bulova, Longines, Bueche-Girod, Omega, Piaget, Girard Perregaux. Playboy, August 1969.
Watches of the era, Playboy August 1969

Monday, July 15, 2013

Get Hugh Online

We know it isn't always easy to get to Hugh, so we're bringing Hugh to you. Our website is now in beta mode!

What do we mean by beta?  Well, it's not a comprehensive catalog of Hugh's offerings, and there's no vintage shopping online (yet), but some of our most popular items are there. There's a chance there will be a glitch or two with shipping, but this isn't our first ride at the rodeo so we expect it'll smooth out pretty quickly.

Click over and check it out! There's a link in the upper right corner here, and the address for now is

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Detroit's Own Mad Men

Madison Avenue wasn't the only place where independent ad agencies thrived back in the day – Detroit had its own version of Mad Men in the eponymous Ross Roy agency.

Ross Roy, a portrait. Actually, the portrait.

Ross Roy, who started as an automobile salesman, founded his agency in 1926 in Detroit with the Dodge Brothers Corp. as the major client.  When Dodge was acquired by Chrysler in 1927 the Ross Roy sales approach was extended to all Chrysler Corp dealers, and the agency grew with Chrysler through the 1930s and 40s specializing in training, merchandising and production of education films. During World War II it more than doubled in size producing these materials Chrysler as part of the war effort.

After the war the Ross Roy agency thrived with Chrysler as their main client, but also taking on clients such as American Steel Wool Manufacturing Co., Dana Perfume, Esquire socks, and Lake Central Airlines.  As a fan of Mad Men it's amusing to see how these types of businesses have also appeared as clients of Sterling Cooper/Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

Ross Roy Inc. occupied offices right on East Jefferson in downtown Detroit at Joseph Campau, directly across the street from Garden Court Apartments and Doctor's Hospital (or as we now know it, Staples). Wouldn't it be awesome if one of the new agencies setting up shop in town took space here?

Ross Roy Inc., once upon a time.
More cool shots here.

Ross Roy Inc. continued to grow and acquire other independent agencies in the 50s, 60s and 70s and by 1980 had billings of $191 million annually. In the late 80s they moved their offices to Bloomfield Hills and by the time they were acquired by Omnicom Group, the parent company of BBDO, they were one of the largest independent shops in the U.S.  The Ross Roy name disappeared in 2000.

Ross Roy himself passed away in 1983 at the age of 85 (so he would have been about Bert Cooper's age in the 60s).  Today, the man is a member of the pantheon of legendary Detroit businessmen.

Here at Hugh we've managed to acquire some of Ross Roy's personal effects from his estate that, not coincidentally, are perfect accessories for the Mad Man in you – an assortment of vintage cufflinks and tie bars, and a rather stellar silverplate ice bucket.


They make their debut at the store Saturday at our Mad Men Pre-Party, so be sure and stop by. Not only can you own a piece of Detroit history, you can own something that's authentic Mad Man!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Classic Shaving: Straight Razors

This is part three of Hugh's look at the elements of classic shaving.

Let's not kid ourselves, the real interest in classic shaving lately has revolved around the straight razor.  It's dangerous and sexy and exciting, and if it's good enough for James Bond then why wouldn't you want to do it?  The fact that it also gives what devotees describe as the ultimate shave is simply a bonus.

A Bond Girl must have many skills.

There are multiple other reasons to jump into straight razor shaving:

- Using a single blade all but eliminates razor bumps, ingrown hairs and razorburn, problems exacerbated by multiple-blade razors. And they allow a level of precision that can be matched by no other shaving method.

- The up-front expense is larger, but you save in the long-haul: Disposable refill cartridges cost about $3 a head, and last about a week. That's $156 a year. You just paid for your straight razor, which can last for years and years with proper care.

- Disposable cartridges are not recyclable and produce a significant amount of waste.  How significant? 20 million American male shavers go through a five-pack of disposable blades every eight weeks or so. Each package weighs about two ounces. Multiply it out and you get... about ten thousand tons of waste each year.

- Giving yourself a straight razor shave requires just enough attention that it pushes mundane hassles out of your head and puts all your focus on the ritual at hand.  It's your daily moment of zen.

- A straight razor is what we like to call an "object of desire." The best ones are entirely hand-made by skilled craftspeople, and the variations and details of construction are quite fascinating.  It's really one of the most beautiful and interesting tools there is.

- Straight razor shaving is a skill. There's a learning curve, but once you've mastered it it can be a source of pride. Some might call it bragging. I do.

Hugh carries Dovo straight razors. Made in Solingen, Germany, they are among the finest available in the world.  The blades on the razors we stock are made of high-carbon steel, which allows a sharper edge, and are 5/8" half-hollow ground.

The "Classic" comes with a black cellidor handle (called "scales," also available in cream or white) and is $130.  Cellidor is an organic plastic that is warm to the touch and achieves a nice patina with use.  It's the same material used on Swiss army knives.

We also have the Dovo "Astrale" straight razor, which has an ebonywood handle as well as a spot for engraving initials. It is $175 and is an astoundingly handsome tool.

Your purchase of a straight razor at Hugh includes a bottle of paraffin oil, which you'll need to protect the blade ($15 purchased separately).  The hand-held leather strop from Streich Riemen is available for $90, and a chrome straight razor stand is $19.

There is a lot of information about the history and construction of straight razors out there - Wikipedia is a great starting point - as well as multiple guides on straight razor shaving (check out this illustrated how-to PDF). If you are remotely inclined to learn more it's pretty interesting stuff.

If you want to experience it in person, stop into Hugh. Aside from what we have in stock, we can special order other razors, strops and honing tools. We are here to make you happy - just ask!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Classic Shaving: the Double-Edged Safety Razor

This is part two of Hugh's look at the elements of classic shaving.

The double-edged safety razor is the razor your father or grandfather probably learned to shave with.  It has been around since the early 20th century, and when we think about the kind of manly shaving we see in old movies, this is the kind of razor they all used.  It provides an exceptionally close shave with minimal irritation, and is convenient, earth-friendly and economical to boot.

The primary misconception about shaving in this era of multiple-blade disposable cartridges is that a single blade can't give you a close shave.  The is actually not true. The trick to using a safety razor is proper beard prep (see yesterday's post), maintaining the blade at a 30-degree angle against the skin, and using short strokes while letting the weight of the razor do the work. You don't want to apply any additional pressure or you'll end up with razor burn.

There's a little learning curve to using a safety razor, but there was a learning curve when you began shaving in the first place.  After a couple shaves your muscle memory takes over and it all becomes second nature.  There are many helpful tutorials on YouTube that go over the basics of the double-edged safety razor - I found this one gave a good overview.

Aside from getting a close shave and looking hot while doing it. using a double-sided safety razor has other benefits.  It is much more cost effective than using expensive proprietary shaving refills - a pack of ten premium blades costs $8.50 at Hugh, and you get to use both sides of the blade.  And because there are no plastic parts, disposing a razor blade is simply returning metal to the earth. Groovy, man.

At Hugh we have a couple options for those who want to make the switch.  The high-quality Merkur razor we sell is hand-made in Solingen, Germany (the cutlery capital of the world!). It has an extra-long handle for easy handling and is nicely-weighted.  It is $44.

If you are merely curious about trying the double-edged safety razor but don't want to make a big financial commitment, we also sell the Vie-Long safety razor, made in Spain.  It is a bit lighter and the quality isn't as obvious as the Merkur, but it is only $15 (including one blade) and a great way to test the waters.

Lastly, for those of you enjoying a complicated facial hair moment, we do offer the Merkur Detailing Safety Razor.  Each end of the blade is a different size for shaving with precision, and it is $33.

Of course, there are other options available, and accessories other than the ones we stock.  Ask about them, we can easily special items.

Next up: the Straight Razor

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