Not all interesting shaving related patents are written in English – the razor on a spring comes to mind – but I can still enjoy them thanks to a rudimentary grasp of other languages and automatic translation. Today I stumbled over a fun one written in German. It is Õsterreichische Patentschrift Nr 40136 by Dr Samuel Schereschewskij describing an “Vorrichtung zur Erzeugung von Seifenschaum und zum Einseifen des Bartes.”. Or, in English, a device for producing lather and for lathering the beard. You know; what most of us uses a shaving brush for today.
The device was intended to produce a simple, disposable, and hygienic way to make and apply lather without getting the fingers soapy. Or, in the words of the patent claim:
Vorrichtung zur Erzeugung von Seifenschaum und zum Einseifen des Bartes für einmaligen Gebrauch, gekennzeichnet durch einen die Seife einschliessenden, porösen oder gelochten. weichwandigen Behälter, der an zwei gegenüberliegenden Stellen mit Handhaben versehen ist.1
It is worth recalling that back then, a lot of people went to the barber for a shave. People were starting to get aware of germs2 and while some barbers might keep a designated brush and cup for their regular customers, sharing a brush wasn’t uncommon. This lead to at least two other inventions for sanitary, disposable shaving brushes; One patented in 1917 by John T Cooney, and a paper brush patented in 1926 by Edward L Corbett.
With the caveat that my understanding of the translated patent text is correct:
The device consists of a fabric tube filled with soap powder and with a stick tied to each end. You would wet the device, shake it around, then twist it to force the lather through the fabric. Then you grab both stick in one hand, rub it over your face and, dispose of the disposable lathering device.
Simple, disposable, and might even work. I wonder if Dr Samuel Schereschewskij ever got someone to manufacture it?
1) According to Google Translate: “Device for producing soap foam and for lathering the beard for single use, characterised by a porous or perforated soap enclosing. soft-walled container, which is provided with handles at two opposite points.”
2) Recall that the anthrax scare that killed the horse hair brush was about a decade later.