A little while ago I posted about two shaving kits disguised as pens. One was a pen style shavette patented in 1921, the other a single edge hoe razor from 1947. But what if you reached into your breast pocket for a pen, perhaps to sign some important document? What a bummer it would be if all you found was several razors, and no pen. What you would need is some form of combined writing instrument and shaver’s kit…which is just what Harry I Schwartz and Joseph H Rothstein filed a patent for in 1934.
I suspect part of the thought process behind this invention is the same as why smart phones exists. Why would I want to carry around a watch, pager, phone, and camera when I can have it all in one convenient package? Double so when it lets me look at cat pictures and yell at strangers on the internet. In the same vein, why would a gentleman in the thirties want to carry around a pen, a razor, a brush, and shaving soap? Wouldn’t it be much more convenient if they were all combined in a single item?
Exercise in packaging
Much like the sanitary package invented in 1915, the combination writing instrument and shaver’s kit is an exercise in dense packaging. While a fountain pen has inherently more girth than a BiC pen, the inventors were still pushing the limit of what was possible. They certainly went straight past the limits on what was usable. Let us look at the patent drawings and see what the erstwhile inventors managed to fit into a pen.
As far as I can tell, the fountain pen part of the invention is a regular style fountain pen. A bladder, encircled by a spring, that can be compressed using the pen body as a plunger. The real trick is what they fitted inside the pen body.
The shaver’s kit
The bottom of the pen would unscrew. Inside the handle would be the shaving kit, densely packed. First out would be an extendable shaving brush. The actual knot would reside inside the slim handle, and the shaver would twist the bottom to extend it. The patent states that this would be done in a similar manner to a lipstick. The actual mechanism is shown in Figure 10.
Above the brush, there is a hollow handled razor. Inside the hollow handle the patent suggest that soap tablets can be secured. The top of the brush handle is threaded b so it can act as an extension to the razor handle. To my ears the combination of soap pellets and damp brush sounds like a disaster in the making though.
The razor itself is shown as a very narrow double edged safety razor. The blade would be securely clamped between a thick base plate and a thin curved top cap. In Figure 3 a cross section of the razor head can be seen, showing how the curvature of the clade matches the inside of the pen body. Also clearly seen is the offset post of the handle.
Figures 12 through 14 shows a modified form of the kit packaged into a mechanical pencil. In this embodiment of the invention, there would also be room for spare blades.
Final thoughts on the combination writing instrument and shaver’s kit
This patent clearly shows that just because something is innovative and novel, it don’t mean it is a great idea. Yes, you can pack a tiny razor, some soap and a doll sized brush inside a fountain pen. That don’t mean that it would be a practical kit to use.
I have no idea if this combined writing instrument and shaver’s kit was ever manufactured. If it was, I strongly suspect that it was seen as little more than a novelty item. Good for a father’s day gift, useless for shaving.
The full patent can, as usual, be read at Google Patents.