Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The Oldest Old School Barber

This is one of my all-time favorite posts
His name is Harry.
He has been cutting hair for 65 years!
The first time I went to his shop I asked “Do you cut with clippers?”
“Yes” he said.
“Do you like to cut with clippers?” I asked.
“No, cutting with clippers is for animals” he replied.
I knew I found my new barber.

I’ve had my hair cut by several very good barbers in NYC but none have used the little service details like Harry. Harry is all about technique. Just before shaving the back of my neck with a straight blade he wipes the shaving cream off with the handle of the blade so he can really see what he is cutting. He places the talc on a little hand towel before patting it on your neck,
He also hums indescribable tunes while cutting your hair. I don’t know if he is the best barber but you don’t run across characters like him very often.

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43 comments

  1. Tom Mandel

    January 3, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    This gentleman seems like just the barber I would prefer to cut my hair. Will you very kindly let me know where I can find his establishment? Please email me at tmandel@gmail.com. Many thanks.

  2. Miserly Bastard

    July 10, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    His place is on the north side of 27th Street between Lex and 3rd. You need to be able to get over his Hitler-style toothbrush moustache, however.

  3. Anonymous

    August 2, 2006 at 7:57 am

    Yeah, the moustache I’m not so into. But these establishments are great. My husband used to get his haircut at an old school barber shop like this where we live (not NYC).

  4. DGA

    August 2, 2006 at 8:45 am

    …my English teacher once said :
    ‘If a man is a barber, he’s most likely not a man…’ -

    anyways, this seems like the archetypical barber, while nowadays most of what I can see are young pseudo-stylists…

  5. argos

    August 2, 2006 at 9:02 am

    Oh yes, I recall this photo from the archives. It is a wonderful and classic image of a barber.

  6. cassie

    August 2, 2006 at 9:25 am

    I know exactly what you mean. It’s the attention to little details that make all the difference. Glad you found him!

  7. Anonymous

    August 2, 2006 at 9:35 am

    Picture’s great, but love the story that comes with it. It’s nice to have a little background of the picture sometimes.

  8. Anonymous

    August 2, 2006 at 9:36 am

    The picture’s great, but love the story that comes with it. It’s nice to have a little background of the picture sometimes.

  9. ClavdiaChauchat

    August 2, 2006 at 9:39 am

    One of my favorites as well; though I continue to wonder what happened to the “flea market find” posts…I loved seeing those dusty and forgotten portraits of sartorialists past. Any chance they’d reappear now and again?

  10. jeff

    August 2, 2006 at 9:58 am

    This is a great picture. I love the way you used a wide aperture to sharpen the image of the barber in his chair. Also, the pose it great. He reminds me of the barber I had growing up in Philadelphia. The image exudes the fact that this man is an artisan. Whou wouldn’t want him to cut his hair?

  11. Gina

    August 2, 2006 at 10:10 am

    I think that people and moments such as these are life’s smallest and biggest pleasures. I only hope that these sorts of people and experiences don’t go the way of the dinosaur. We need small details and pleasures (particularly with 65 years of experience!!) in life.

  12. amit

    August 2, 2006 at 11:18 am

    the two instances in which a guy would want an older man rather than a young woman touching you – 1) barber, 2) dentist.

  13. Anonymous

    August 2, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    The “old” school’s the best school ….. unfortunately they can’t compete with all the salons /chains

  14. Andy

    August 2, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    Good barbers just cut your hair, excellent barbers define the way the hair grows aswell.

  15. Anonymous

    August 2, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    Your photos are great, what camera do you use?

  16. Jacqueline

    August 2, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    oh, you spelled it favortie ! =)

  17. Alex

    August 2, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    Very important topic that men don’t discuss often enough. Women trade information on the best stylists for them, but men need to spread the word about good barbers (because they’re so rare!).

  18. EnidP

    August 2, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    I love the way this picture is taken in the black and white. And I love it manily because I can feel the character. I feel like I almost know him just by the way he’s looking into the camera. This is a great shot. what kind of camera do you have?

  19. Broady

    August 2, 2006 at 8:27 pm

    “No, cutting with clippers is for animals.”

    I’m in love!

  20. The Sartorialist

    August 2, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    the funny part of this shot is that his place is so small I was standing about two feet outside of his shop in the blazing hot sun while i was taking this foto

  21. Tom

    August 2, 2006 at 11:30 pm

    Harry is what we of “The Old School” refer to as a professional. Your picture captures the fact that he is a no bullshit type of guy.

  22. Maria

    August 3, 2006 at 10:02 am

    I agree with you Mr Sartorialist. Older men like him know themselves well enough so their personality transcends the clothes they wear. It is the balance between the material and the inmaterial of personality.

  23. ken

    August 3, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    This picture could have been taken by August Sander. It’s not just the style and atmosphere of the image, but, definitely, the timeless aura of Harry’s appearance and outfit. I love this image so much.

  24. Anonymous

    August 3, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    It’s my understanding that the use of a straight razor was disallowed several decades ago by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygeine. An ‘ol time barber I used to frequent kept the leather sharpening strap attached to his chair, but told me hadn’t used it in years and it was only there for show.

  25. The Sartorialist

    August 3, 2006 at 2:13 pm

    I don’t get the sense harry is worried about the laws concerning straight blades, maybe he was “grandfathered” in before the law

    Ken,
    thanks I can think of no better compliment than to say it has an August Sander quality – thanks !

  26. Alia

    August 3, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    man i love his picture to death. we have a great barber here in ohio thats just as old and possibly has the same experience and hes never messed my brothers hair up once

  27. Julia

    August 3, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    That’s one thing I would love if I was a guy – to go to an old school barber and have the works. And this guy is the ultimate. Stunning photo too.

  28. AnastasiaC

    August 3, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    He seems like a cool character from days gone by – great to see skilled barbers still around!

  29. COOP

    August 4, 2006 at 3:09 am

    I used to have a terrific barber in downtown LA, am old Italian man named Sam. He retired (at 80+) and I was barberless for a few years.

    Luckily for me, I recently found another great barber, and he’s a couple of years younger than me. I’m hoping this means I won’t have to look for another!

  30. Anonymous

    August 5, 2006 at 9:22 am

    Ohh! I must tell my father about Harry!

  31. Anonymous

    August 16, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    For years I used to get my hair cut by Vaughn Acord at Bumble & Bumble (very $$$ but very good stylist). Since my hair has become more grey and coarse, I have to wear it short, since it doesn’t look good long anymore and the upkeep is too much. Lately I’ve been getting my hair cut at Barber Bart’s. I didn’t like my recent haircut from him, so I think I’ll try this guy.

  32. Anonymous

    May 4, 2007 at 4:36 am

    next to him, I really think that the interior, of which you get an idea looking at the picture, makes it a great barber..

    Three years ago I was strolling through Rome and discovered a barber “very similar” (which you can’t really say in this category of men). I got a great haircut and shave in a great relaxed, original, italian atmosphere. After talking a bit with him he showed me a magazine in which there was an article about him and his shop (which hasn’t been changed for 30 years) and that he has cut the hair of many “famous” people..
    Too bad I couldn’t find him when I went back to Rome last year!
    Anybody an idea who I am looking for by any chance??

  33. giancarlo z

    June 19, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    This reminds me of a short piece of fiction I wrote about a visit to Naples a while back. The tale, spun on a whim, took in a trouser-fitting with Antonio Ambrosi and also a haircut, from Gianni Cirillo.

    On my next visit to Italy, I rode a train to Naples from Rome. All on my own. I actually couldn’t find Ambrosi’s, but it didn’t matter. No. I got a lift from Via Nicotera to Via Crispi on the back of a moped. The girl giving me a backie; goodness me.

    Then, my time at Il Barberia with Signore Cirillo, well, it was unforgettable. My secret true story.

    I’ll go looking for Harry next time I’m in NYC.

    ::Tip o’ the lid::

  34. Anonymous

    April 26, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Great photo, and I love his sentiment about clippers. I had a traditional haircut once where the trim was done with a straight razor. Nothing beats it. However, and this is a big however, studies have suggested that the antiseptic fluid barbers use to clean the blades does not kill some of the stronger viruses, including hepatitis. Usually when departments of health disallow certain practices, it’s for good reason. I’ll stick to clippers, thank you.

  35. Albert Ashley

    June 30, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Some of us with coarse curly hair prefer a precise haircut with clippers, I feel slighted by his comment, but alas he is of another generation where even in NYC segregation and euphemisms was acceptable. I do enjoy the old school barber feel but mine here on Chicago’s south side rivals most any.

  36. Anonymous

    August 29, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    “He is of another generation where even in NYC segregation and euphemisms was acceptable.”

    Albert, I’m sure the gentlemen meant cutting with clippers is a practice of less skilled barbers. The man has been cutting hair for 65 years! Like any artist, the tools of his trade are important to him. Some writers of an older era enjoy still using typewriters over computers to pen their novels. Harry the Barber sticks to straight razors and scissors.

    I’m curious as to what you think he meant by “animals.” I don’t know the man, but I highly doubt he was spouting off a a racist euphemism.

    I think you took the barber’s comment out of context. Do you seriously think Scott Schuman would even think of publishing his conversation with Harry if he thought for a moment the man was prejudiced?

    I think not.

  37. Clayton now in Brooklyn

    December 18, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Yes! The humming! The humming! He would hum along (badly, but enthusiastically) to pop tunes on the radio.

    I used to go to this guy once in a while. I always felt like I was stepping back in time. The details of the shop were like a crafted movie set.

    Not sure if he’s still around. A great city character.

  38. Anonymous

    March 8, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    I would trust him with an old-fashioned razor shave; he can be trusted to provide the best!

  39. Melisa

    June 1, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    He’s fabulous! I love him.

  40. Do

    December 30, 2009 at 10:40 am

    You make me want to shave my face. And I don't need to. Luckily, because I'm a woman.

  41. Doris

    February 21, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    "cutting with clippers is for animals" lol. That's awesome.

    Harry is an artist

  42. lindayoga

    August 8, 2011 at 11:07 am

    He sounds lovely, and I’m sure after 65 years he has seen it all.

  43. David

    May 21, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Hi!

    Anyone know where this barber is located? I am going to NYC soon and would like that experience.
    Can you email me please davidmassiot@hotmail.com

    Best

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