A 1905 Gillette advertisement

Early safety razor advertisements – like early safety razors patents – can be a source of much fun and enjoyment. And today I found a very early Gillette advertisement, printed in The Literary Digest on May 20th 1905. The Gillette safety razors were first offered for sale in 1903, so the marketing department of Gillette was just finding out how to properly sell razors when this was printed.

Ad for Gillette Safety Razors, The literary Digest 1905-05-20.

Looking at the advertisement, there is a lot more text than we’re used to seeing today. Not only do we get information that each razor comes with a dozen blades, but we’re also subjected to the claim that each blade lasts up to forty shaves. To top that off, there is an offer to send a prospective buyer one new blade for every two blades you ship back to Gillette!

The last bit sounds bizarre to us today, used as we are to the idea of disposable blades. But Gillette didn’t just plan to sell razors and new blades, but also to sell refurnished and resharpened blades for less than brand new ones. That idea died within a few years though… and now we just recycle old razor blades like we would any other bit of stainless steel; by melting it down.

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