Louis Heckel’s safety-razor-blade holder

Ever wished that you had more choices when it came to blades for your vintage Star, GEM or EverReady razor? Or have a lovely old wedge razor, but either is lacking the blades or can’t manage to get them sharpened and honed? Turns out that the solution was invented and patented one hundred and fifteen years ago… It’s a safety-razor-blade holder. To quote Louis Heckel:

Be it known that I, LOUIS HECKEL, a citizen of the United States, residing at Kansas City, in the county of Jackson and State of Missouri,have invented a new and useful Safety-Razor- Blade Holder, of which the following is a specification.
This invention relates to safety-razors, and has for its principal object to provide a novel form of blade holder or clamp formed of a number of sections which when assembled with the blade in position will present a composite blade of the same shape and size as the blades used in the well-known Star and Gem type of safety-razor.

Introduction to US patent 794,798

Filed and granted in 1905, the idea is remarkable simple. Two wedge shaped pieces. One wedge has studs, the other has matching holes. A spring steel clamp to lock the wedge sections together. When assembled with a blade in between, it has the shape and size of an original wedge blade.

Drawing from US patent 794,798, showing two wedge sections and the clamping piece that makes up the safety-razor-blade holder.
Drawing from US patent 794,798

Mr Heckel clearly saw it as beneficial to use the disposable two edged blades that Gillette had introduced. To quote the patent again:

It is the object of the present invention to provide a means whereby the flexible twoedged blades may be used in connection with the frames and stropping devices of the firstnamed type.

From the text of US patent 794,798. “Firstnamed” refers to wedge blades.

A major benefit for us today would be getting more choices when it comes to what blade to use. Other benefits include returning old shavers to service, as well as not having to sharpen and hone wedge blades.

I see no reason why – with modern materials – a conceptually similar safety-razor-blade holder can be made to adapt modern DE and injector blades to the old GEM and EverReady razors. These razors were originally made for blades significantly stiffer and thicker than later GEM blades. I know a variation on this invention for using GEM blades in wedge razors has been tried… with mixed results. Perhaps using metal instead of plastic would make a better adaptor.

Full text of the patent can be read at Google Patents and also at razors.click.

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