Folding safety razor

It can be interesting to follow the trail of which patent cites which other patent. The patent for the pen style shavette, for instance, is cited by several other patents. Including by one for a folding safety razor.

Patented by Valentinus M Zeles, the folding safety razor shares similarities with other razors we’ve looked at lately. The handle contains a lathering agent, like Bowlin’s shaving kit. The razor can use a double edged blade, like the combination writing instrument and shaver’s kit. And it has spare blades, like the rather neat razor we looked at on Tuesday.

Where it differs is, naturally, in the details and execution. And the choice of lather, but more about that later.

Like so many razors and other shaving accoutrements patented, this promised to be a big improvement. More or less the best thing since sliced bread. A leap beyond the bleeding edge. And like so many other patents, I can’t find any proof that it was ever more than a dream on paper.

To quote from the introduction:

This invention relates generally to shaving tackle and more particularly is directed towards a new and improved shaving kit, comprising a foldable razor with a self-contained lather dispenser, both components being housed in a small compact casing that is easily carried on the person as in a pocket in the same manner as a pen or pencil.

From US patent 3,349,484

So far, so good. I’m almost tempted to add a “so what?” on that, since this isn’t anything new, per se. As we’ve seen, lots of inventions have tried to achieve a pocketable razor before and after.

However, while other razors I’ve looked at have a head that the user must screw on, or pull out and flip against spring tension, Mr Zeles’ folding safety razor just… well… folds. The narrow head just folds over to one side after giving it a twist. To unfold, just lift one edge up, and twist to lock. Nice, simple, and requiring some fiddly parts and springs.

The top cap was held in place by a pair of hooks, that fitted in holes in the single edge blade. Place the blade on the base plate, and simply push the top cap down and to one side to lock. And while the drawings do show a single edged blade, the patent do point out that double edged blades is a simple modification. To qoute:

The razor head assembly is best shown in FIGS. 9 through 12. The head assembly includes .a top plate 56 the outer surface of which is semi-cylindrical while the inner surface is generally flat, having a pair of depending lugs 58 with lockings ends in the form of notches or enlarged heads 59. The lugs 58 extend through openings 60 formed in a blade 62 disposed between the upper plate 56 and .a base member 64. The base member is similarly formed with spaced opening 66 which register with the openings 60 and the lugs 58. The base member 64 is provided with a spring-loaded slide lock 68 mounted in opposing channels 70 formed .along either side of the base member 64.

The slide lock is operated by pressing the right-hand end towards the left as viewed in FIGS. 11 and 12 and then placing the top plate 56 down over it with the lugs 58 extending through the blade openings 60 as well as the opening 66. In this position the slide lock is released and the spring 72 urges it to the right with the edges of the opening in the slide lock engaging the notched or headed ends of the lugs 58, restraining them from separating from the assembly. In this fashion, the blade is seated with its cutting edge exposed along one side. Obviously, the head may be readily modified to accommodate a double-edge blade with the two edges being exposed along opposite sides of the head assembly.

From US patent 3,349,484

The “clip” on the side of the assembled razor did more than just secure the folding safety razor to your pocket. It had a built in blade dispenser, almost like a injector razor uses. Main difference is the lack of a key, which wasn’t needed. While I cannot see an easy way to refill the dispenser, it seems like it is a loose part. It is possible that Mr Zeles intended to sell spare clips with extra blades for his razor.

Patent drawing for Mr Zeles' folding safety razor
Patent drawing for Mr Zeles’ folding safety razor

So far, still good. I can get behind the folding safety razor so far. But where Mr Zeles lose me is in the choice of lather. In the hollow handle, held securely by a cap with a bayonet lock, there is a small aerosol can of canned goo. And canned go is a hard no for me when it comes to shaving. But I’m sure that if anyone wanted to manufacture the folding safety razor that could be changed. Perhaps to a styptic pencil?

All in all, the folding safety razor of Mr Zeles looks interesting. It should be possible to modify the head to take an injector or other modern single edge blade. And with a different lather or shaving aid in the handle, I can see it as a travel razor.

As almost always, you can read the full patent on Google Patents.

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