A few days ago I wrote about a disposable revolving razor from 1966. Unshockingly – since there is nothing new under the sun – I found a broadly similar idea patented a few years prior. Funnily enough, the patent filed by Mr Alfred Curci1 is – in my eyes at least – an improvement upon the idea patented later.
I guess the chicken came before the egg, in the case of disposable revolving razors.
Mr Curci filed his patent under the somewhat verbose title of “Disposable combination safety-razor and blade magazine”. Which – while long – is an accurate description that don’t describe anything much. So let us dive in and have a look around.2
The basic premise is simple enough. The razors consists of a handle, on top of which there is a – for the lack of a better term – magazine. Said magazine is cylindrical and holds a multitude of individual blades. Said blades are each set in a plastic holder, and angled so they line up with a slit in the magazine. The holder also acts as the guard on a regular safety razor for the blade behind it.
Or as the patent text so verbosely puts it:
…a hollow frame indicated generally at 1 having a plurality of safety guards 2 (in this case twelve), a corresponding number of blades 3 disposed in a paddle-wheel configuration. The blades 3 are similarly oriented in any predetermined shaving alignment relative to the corresponding safety-guards 2.From US patent 3,137,940
Unlike the revolving razor patented by Mr William M Choate a few years later, there was no complex knobs or ratchets. The whole holder was flexible enough that the inner paddle wheel assembly (4) could rotate. Little bumps (14) on the outer holder engaged in cutouts (15) on the inner assembly. So to change blades all the shaver had to do was to grab both ends and give a little twist.
Ideally – according to the patent – the whole inner assembly should be cast in one piece from a synthetic resin.3 However, Mr Curci also sketched out a way to secure the blades if it was desirable to make the revolving razor from metal. The holder for each blade is shown round in the drawing, but the text suggest that can be made to any suitable shape – and even grooved in order to act as an open comb guard.
The patent also suggest that the magazine can be used as-is for shaving, without having a handle attached. That would make for a handy little razor, although I suspect controlability might suffer a bit. If the user did opt for using a handle, it could be stored in the hollow centre of the magazine.
The patent also suggested covering each blade with a tear away strip, which would both protect the blade and indicate to to the saver which blades have been used. This has the upside of keeping moisture away from the blades before use.
Thoughts on Curci’s revolving razor
While there is nothing about the razor that makes it hard to manufacture from a technical point of view, I feel that the shape would lend itself to a sub-par shave. The big, cylindrical head would make shaving the upper lip hard, even if that is a matter of technique.4
It is a little unclear to me, but on the drawing it seems like the slit in the holder was so wide you could shave with two of the blades at once – making Mr Alfred Curci’s revolving razor an early example of a multi-blade plastic cartridge.
All in all an interesting invention, even if I wouldn’t consider it an improvement on safety razors. The full patent is available on Google Patents, and if you enjoy reading snarky comments on old patents I got a lot more of that.
- Mr Alfred Curci have an interesting and eclectic list of patents to his name, but only one razor.
- Sorry, bad pun. Couldn’t resist.
- Plastic, in other words.
- Or growing a moustache.