The modern shaving brush can be traced back to France during the 1750's. The French called a shaving brush blaireau or "badger."Quality of these brushes differed greatly, as materials used to fashion the handles varied from the common to the exotic. It was not uncommon for handles to be made of ivory, gold, silver, tortoise shell, crystal, or porcelain. The more expensive brushes used badger hair, with cheaper ones using boar's or horse's hair.
GRADES OF BADGER HAIR:
PURE: is the most common hair from the underbelly of a badger, the hair which covers around 60% of a badger's body. This hair varies greatly in softness, pliability and color. Pure badger hair is usually dark in color, but fluctuates from a light tan to a near-black or silvery sheen. The hair is coarser than 'best' or 'silvertip' hair due to its larger shaft. Brushes made exclusively with pure badger hair cost significantly less than finer badger hair. Most often, pure badger brush hairs are trimmed to shape, resulting in somewhat stiff, rough ends.
BEST: made with the finer and more pliable hairs from 20 - 25% of the badger's body. It is longer in length and lighter in color than 'pure' badger hair. A 'best' badger brush is more densely filled with hair than the 'pure' badger brush and will produce a correspondingly greater lather.
SILVERTIP: the most expensive and rare type of badger hair. The tips on this hair appear white naturally, without bleaching. A "flared" bristle load gives results in the 'silvertip' brush's fluffy appearance and lends the brush its ability to hold a large amount of water. Due to its water retention capacity, a 'silvertip' brush can create well-formed shaving lather quickly and easily.