The Crown King Scuttle
The Crown King Scuttle is a chambered, porcelain vessel with a textured interior that aids in lather production. The general concept is that the lower chamber can be filled with hot tap water, then the shaver can bowl lather as they would normally in the top chamber of the scuttle resulting in warm lather for the shave. Another use is as a brush scuttle, a device used to store the brush in between shaving passes that keeps the brush (and lather in it) warm for re-lathering. A brush scuttle would be useful for a shaver that prefers to face lather.
While the Crown King Scuttle may have a cappuccino mug appearance, it is actually quite well designed both functionally and ergonomically to achieve a warm lather for the shaver which is a delight to experience, especially during the colder months of the year. As a brainchild of Douglas Smythe, the owner of Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements, the Crown King Scuttle incorporates a number of innovations that Mr. Smythe had always desired in a scuttle. You can hear Douglas discussing his ideas for a scuttle on this 2013 Moustache & Blade podcast episode. No one took up the torch and developed a scuttle to Mr. Smythe’s liking, so, as an avid scuttle user, he decided to develop one to his own specifications. Thus, the Crown King Scuttle was born.
Shaving with the Crown King Scuttle
Rather than pretending that a simple regurgitation of manufacturer specs is a review, I direct the reader to the Crown King Scuttle product page for details on dimensions, materials, etc. In true Anthronicle style, the following discussion will feature my shave experience with the Crown King Scuttle.
I used the Crown King Scuttle in two ways, as a lather bowl or as a brush scuttle. As a lather bowl, the lower chamber can be filled with hot tap water that serves to warm the porcelain mug and the lather produced in it. I found that filling the chamber with hot tap water prior to showering before my shave worked well to warm the vessel. I typically filled the lathering chamber with hot tap water to soak my brush in as well. With the black silicone stopper in place, the scuttle lathering chamber can be emptied of the water that the brush was soaking in, then the brush can be loaded with soap as usual.
For bowl lathering, I found the large applique handle to be useful for several grip variations. Aside from simply holding the scuttle by the handle similar to a coffee mug, it can also be cradled in the palm or held in place on the counter top. My preferred grip was the palm cradle as it allowed for tilting the scuttle which aids in a more diagonal lathering stroke. Holding the Crown King Scuttle in hand was entirely possible due to its reasonable size and weight when filled with water.
The horizontal and vertical lather lines are designed to increase friction and aid in soap agitation while bowl lathering. These lather lines are a key feature of the Crown King Scuttle differentiating it from many bowls and scuttles on the market. They help mix air and water into the soap lather. A decent lather can be whipped up with a simple circular stroke. Tilting the scuttle and blending a circular stroke with a mild up-and-down pump action allows for the brush to traverse the lather lines diagonally resulting in quick and dense lather creation. Using this diagonal stroke, I could, on average, whip up a dense lather in 30 seconds or less.
Producing lather with the Crown King Scuttle took little effort, and I enjoyed experimenting with a variety of strokes in order to find which worked best for me. The warm lather this technique produced lasted the shave through with no need to refill the scuttle with hot water, although you could depending on the temperature of your hot tap water. I did experiment with different temperatures of water and found that hot tap water works best. I used an electric tea kettle to experiment with near boiling and full boiling water. While neither water temperature harmed the scuttle, both were detrimental to lathers resulting in sticky/gummy concoctions that simply didn’t work.
Throughout my bowl lathering experience, I did observe that the black silicone stopper would, at times, begin to work its way out of the spout. While this did not happen every time I shaved, it happened enough for me to seek a solution. Rolling the stopper on an alum block then reinserting it solved the problem. I also found that applying a slight twist while inserting the stopper helped as well.
One thing lacking in this whole bowl lathering experiment was the face feel of my brushes. Sure, painting on warm lather felt pretty good, but I think that the sensory aspect of the brush on the face to create lather is key to a full shave experience. Utilizing the Crown King Scuttle as a brush scuttle allows for the best of both worlds, a warm lather and the sensory experience of a face lather.
As a brush scuttle, the Crown King Scuttle works quite well. Similarly to when bowl lathering, I would fill the lower chamber with hot tap water and the lathering chamber as well to soak my brush in prior to the shave. With the stopper in place, the upper chamber can be emptied and the brush loaded with soap. The warm brush could then be used in a typical face lather.
In between passes, I placed the loaded brush in the Crown King Scuttle where it would warm back up, ready for re-lathering. Another key feature of the Crown King Scuttle is the conical shape of the upper chamber. This allows for the brush to stand straight up, or up with the slight tilt depending on the knot size. This position forces the brush and lather deep into the scuttle and helps keep both warm with the heat from the porcelain surrounding the brush on all sides.
While I found that filling the scuttle with hot tap water was sufficient for keeping the brush and lather warm for a three pass shave, I did experiment with higher temperatures of water. Unlike with my bowl lathering experience, when using the scuttle only as a brush receptacle, the higher temperature water does not degrade the lather. While this warms up the lather a bit, I didn’t think it was worth going to the trouble of boiling water prior to the shave. The actual heat sensation difference was minimal.
Using the Crown King Scuttle as a brush scuttle is effective especially considering the compact size of the vessel itself. I don’t have a lot of free room on my counter but was still able to find a good place for the scuttle to reside. Perhaps a design improvement for those desiring to use the Crown King Scuttle solely as a brush scuttle would be to offer a version without the loop applique handle. While the large handle works well for various grips when bowl lathering, it serves no purpose when used as a brush scuttle and its removal would further reduce the footprint of the vessel.
Competitive Options and Value
The Crown King Scuttle is not the only scuttle on the market. There is a slew of vintage scuttles out there that people collect and use as well. Most vintage designs tend to feature an open bottom chamber with an upper chamber for a soap puck. This is a separate design and will not be considered further here. Furthermore, there are many scuttles on the market that appear to be very large and heavy. Some even look they could be used as crock pots in a chili cookoff. All fine designs in their own right but also excluded from further consideration here.
I’ve chosen two competitive options to the Crown King Scuttle. First, the Georgetown Pottery G12 Shaving Scuttle. It is a similarly sized vessel with both vertical ridges and horizontal lather lines and a stopper. The Georgetown G12 currently retails for $55 and can be found in a variety of patterns beyond the white finish of the Crown King Scuttle. Second, the Moonstar Pottery Shaving Scuttle. While similar in size, it has a smaller water reservoir which is also an open design without a stopper. This scuttle has ridges in the bottom of the bowl and chevrons on the sides to aid in lathering. It retails for $48 and is also available in a variety of finishes. Much more could be written about both of these scuttles. Nevertheless, they both offer similar features and design when compared with the Crown King Scuttle and are worthy of consideration if the reader is shopping shaving scuttles.
While value is a relative concept that varies widely from person to person, I place the Crown King Scuttle in the high-value category. This means that I think you get a lot for the price to include a reasonable size, functioning horizontal and vertical lather lines, a silicone stopper, and the conical bowl design. The Crown King Scuttle is only offered in one finish, white, and perhaps this is where it comes up short compared with the other two competitive options. While the aesthetics are basic, I think the Crown King Scuttle has classic, timeless appeal. The Crown King Scuttle currently retails at $26.95.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time shaving with the Crown King Scuttle, both as a lathering bowl and brush scuttle. In fact, it has worked its way into my regular routine as my brush receptacle. On cooler days when I’m seeking a comforting shave, there really is no replacement for warm lather. It’s a wonderful sensation that enhances the shave. When I don’t want the warm lather, I still place the brush in the scuttle between passes and just leave the lower reservoir empty. Did the Crown King Scuttle shatter the shave experience, changing my shave life forever? No, but it is a welcomed addition to my shave, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to experience it. If you want to learn even more about the Crown King Scuttle, be sure to watch Douglas Smythe’s how-to video for pro tips from the man himself.
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*Disclaimer – Crown King contacted Anthronicle.com to offer their product for review. After agreeing to the Anthronicle.com Product Acceptance Policy, Crown King provided the scuttle featured in this article.