Harry Clough and his improved holder for detachable blades

There is always room for improvement. The thin bladed safety razor Gillette invented improved upon the various wedge razors. Harry Clough came up with an improved handle that could do the same for the straight razor. In effect Harry, who was a Printer’s Engineer, came up with a shavette using double edged blades – even if he didn’t tout it as such. In a way, his patent was only tangentially related to razors – but it’s only a small and intuitive step from it to a shaver.

Filed in 1915 – during the Great War – and granted the year after, the patent describes a fairly simple device. Harry Clough was inspired by the thin, flexible, easily replaceable blade of the Gillette razor. I can say that with certainly, because the patent says as much:

This invention relates more particularly for such a type of blade as is employed with the Gillette safety razor and consists of a handle terminating with clamp controls for the blade…

From the introduction of Great British Patent 1915-10980

When all is said and done, Harry Clough came up with a modified razors head on a handle. A cap, identical in form and purpose to the top cap of a three piece razor was to be tightened down with a wing nut. The handle had holes corresponding to the studs on the top cap. The whole thing could be made so one or both of the edges were exposed.

As I alluded to, Harry Clough didn’t tout his invention as a razor per se. Rather he highlighted the usage as a utility knife or scraper (see figure 12A), a way to get more mileage out of a razor blade that was worn out. To quote:

…a handy and also an economical instrument for chiropody, economical, as it is here claimed that such a type of blade which is past its use for shaving purposes, still possesses an excellent cutting edge for the uses herein intended and that even a cast off shaving blade secured in this appliance may be of a further value.

From the TEXT of Great British Patent 1915-10980

As the British would say in the second world war; Make do and mend. No need to throw out a blade that still had some use left.

Put forth as a utility knife, the invention of Harry Clough is only a small step away from a shavette. It is, arguable, conceptually similar to a number of double edged shavettes sold today by various vendors.

The full patent can be studied at Espacenet.

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