Walter H Nicholls’ two piece safety razor

In July 1908 Mr Walter H Nicholls walked into the patent office and filed an application for a two piece razor that utilised the springiness of the razor blade to keep the top cap in place, even if he didn’t stress this point in the patent text.

This invention relates to razors of that type in which the blade is detachably secured to a blade-carrying head or holder, and while applicable to various kinds and styles of razors of this character my improvements are particularly adapted and intended to be embodied in safety razors, my object being to provide a simple, practical and inexpensive construction whereby the blade may be quickly and easily secured to and detached from the holder, and will be firmly held thereby when in use.

US patent 991.878

The whole idea is that the top cap is slotted onto the outer studs that holds the blades, as the drawing hopefully makes obvious. Once in place, the blade will act as a spring – lifting the top cap against the wider part of the stud – and friction will lock the cap in place. Transverse groves on the cap made it easier to get the cap on and off the razor. While one might imagine that the two bumps on top of the cap might get in the way of shaving, I cannot see why some careful shaping should alleviate that issue.

While the patent text alludes to a blade made special for this razor – “a flat resilient blade having a perforation near each end” – as well as the drawing showing what is obviously a single edge razor, it don’t take a genius to realise that a Gillette three-hole double edged blade would work very well for this style of razor. That is probably why the patent at some point was assigned to Gillette, although I’m not sure of when and under what circumstances that happened.

Mr Nicholls has several other patents, among them two other razors;
– A single edge razor (filed in 1907) with a hinged top cap also assigned to Gillette
– A wedge razors (filed in 1898) where you could adjust the blade angle, assigned to Libby Harlow & Co

No indications I can find that this razor was ever put into production, which is kind of a shame… without any threads to cut, it would be easy to manufacture and inexpensive. There is however a much more recent razor that are conceptually similar; the Focus Dynamic R48 half-blade razor. Main difference is that the studs are on the top cap while the slots are cut into the base plate.

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