A couple of years ago I posted about the Clemak safety razor. As British as Bulldogs and the British Army, the Clemak is covered by a British patent. I have no indications that a US patent was ever applied for. The Clemak was marketed as an inexpensive razor – why pay a guinea? – and the patent points to an important feature that made it economical in use:
The blade was self adjusting – so no matter how ground down it was, it would be pressed against the blade stop. In this way the shaver would not have to buy new blades all the time, but simply rehone and reuse the ones that came in the box.
To quote the patent:
…the blade is carried in a holder, of any suitable construction, which is pivoted, in a spring-controlled frame mounted on an axis supported in lateral lugs formed at the outer end of the comb, and around this axis is coiled the said spring, which also acts to keep the blade in proper angular position relatively to the comb.British patent No 532 of 1908
Simply put, the blade is mounted in a holder. Said holder is mounted on a pair of levers. The levers are spring loaded. Thus the blade is pressed against the blade stops by a coil spring. By pushing a button the levers – and thus the holder and blade – are pulled back from the blade stops. The blade can then be swung up for honing or replacement. Easy, peasy.
The Clemak safety razor was, as far as I can tell, reasonable successful. It was sold for more than a decade, falling out of favour when the patent for the original Gillette expired.1 I can see the design being made to work with a modern Gem style blade, but a razor with no top cap would not find a huge market today.
1) When Gillette’s patent expired,a sudden influx of inexpensive Gillette clones hit the marked. This would obviously have an effect on any razors aiming for a slice of the low end market.