Defunct 4: National Shaving and Barbershop Museum

One More Museum Gets Trimmed

RIP, mid-00′s

def4c.jpgI am very disappointed I never got to check out this museum. Is there anything more random than a museum dedicated to shaving and barbershops? I think not. The story of this place is ridiculous and sublime; and the guy responsible for it appears to be quite an eccentric.

For more on that eccentric guy, Lester Dequaine, Check this out. But in the meantime, if you can figure out why my legs looks so awkward in this picture here, I’d be forever indebted.

Lester Dequaine actually had three distinct museums under one roof of a rather handsome building in the heart of Meriden – right across from the Police Station smack-dab in the middle of Main Street. These places were open seven days a week at one point and… well… they weren’t exactly hotspots for some reason. (The other two museums were the Rosa Ponselle Museum and the Frank Chiarenza Museum of Glass – but you probably knew that already).

Actual picture of actual chair from the National Shaving and Barbershop Museum

I’d have dug the barbershop one the most I think; “Lester Dequaine proudly displays his extensive collection of 19th and early 20th century items which include adult and children’s barber chairs and other barber furniture, barber poles, rare and unusual shaving devices, medical tools, occupational shaving mugs, barber bottles, advertising posters and window or counter displays.”

“Unusual shaving devices?” Seriously, what could they be? I’ll never know. *Sniff*

Damian would totally have enjoyed a fresh cut in these things!

It appears the museum collection pretty much went to auction. From an article about an auction in Allentown, PA: “The Saturday session features the contents of the remarkable Lester Dequaine barber-shop museum that once operated by appointment only in Meriden, Conn. “This collection covers every corner of an old-fashioned barber shop,” said Inman. Among the many barber chairs are four novelty kiddie chairs that incorporate an actual Garton pedal car; as well as an old oak example by Eclipse with decorative carved lion’s heads. Barber poles include four porcelain models with lights, globes and motion mechanism; and one early painted-wood pole. The most elaborate of the bar backs is of oak with marble backing, estimate $12,000-$15,000.

exhibit2.jpgAdditionally, there are floor-model shaving mirrors and stands, 100 different shaving mugs, cash registers, razors and product bottles, a National electric shoe-shine machine from the 1940s, and a variety of advertising signs of porcelain, tin and cardboard. Standouts within the advertising group include a mint-condition Baranger barber shop motion display, estimate $3,000-$5,000; and a Gem Razor die-cut cardboard motion display of a man shaving as he rocks back and forth and side to side, estimate $5,000-$7,000. “I’ve only seen one other like it,” said Inman. Also to be sold is an especially handsome double-steeple showcase with nickel trim, estimate $3,000-5,000.”

So in other words, this guy’s museum/collection was fairly impressive to say the least. A handsome double-steeple showcase with nickel trim? Um, hello? I’d pay six-thousand to have that in my parlor room. Anyway, my “visit” was all of 2 minutes – some random people were in the empty building reviewing plans for whatever they are putting in. I was surprised there was a Cafe as well. With 450 other active museums to check out, why am I sad this one is gone?

The man himself, Lester Dequaine!


Links of Interest

This looks wonderful
Buy Lester’s book

6 responses to “Defunct 4: National Shaving and Barbershop Museum”

  1. brian josephson says:

    I have a 1875 eugene buninghause barber chair, all wooden , tilting with
    head rest , whicker back and cloth seat, with a cast iron eagle in the base
    I think for a weight, might you know someone interested in the chair, my father was in the barber and beutiy supply bussiness al my life and he bought the bussiness from freinds or family please call or email

  2. brian josephson says:

    please respond

  3. Steve says:


    I’ll try to be nice. I (the writer of this blog) have nothing in the world to do with anything in the world having to do with old barbershop chairs or collectibles.

    I write a blog (the very one you posted a comment on) about museums in CT. There used to be one dedicated to old barbershop stuff but its closed and the guy who ran it lives 2000 miles away.

    Friendly advice: Please, to you and to everyone, Please actually read articles and blog posts before commenting on them.

    In return, I’ll remove your phone number that you published for the world to see.

  4. vittoio mariano says:

    Very good, for some lucky fan picked up the story of the barber. Congratulations.
    Mariano Vittorio from Italy

  5. rabanel says:

    Are you guys for real: I didnt know there can be a shaving museum! lol. you just made my day

  6. Wayne says:

    Here it is 2014 and I finally catch up to this museum. Well, perhaps catch up is the wrong choice of words. I’m a seriously dedicated, or is that heavily addicted, razor and barberiana collector. It is all such wonderful stuff, especially for me the razors as I can use them everyday for shaving. Some are scary, some are just awesome.

    Thnx for this article as I can stop looking for the museum now. Sigh……

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