A straight edge safety razor

We all know what we mean when we say “safety razor”. It is a razor with a a protective device positioned between the edge of the blade and the skin. On the traditional hoe razors we all know and love, this can be a comb, a bar, or a scalloped bar. But back in 1890’s the standard for razors were the straight. And of course someone tried to invent a straight edge safety razor.

The earliest one I am aware of Perret, in 1762. But after that there were several attempts, including Zammet in 1881. But in 1897 Richard Sherman Bradley came up with something slightly new – a straight razor that could either be used as a safety razor or as a regular striaght.

As always, the patent starts with the claim of being a new and useful improvement on the state of the art. And it might have been new, but I’m a little unconvinced of how useful the improvements were.

Patent drawing showing Bradley's straight edge safety razor
Patent drawing from US patent 586,589

To help work out what we are seeing, let us look at the patent text:

In the drawings, Figure 1 is a side elevation showing my improved razor in its safety form. Fig. 2 is a corresponding view showing the opposite side. Fig. 3 is a corresponding view showing the blade opened and the razor as adapted for use in the ordinary manner. Fig. 4 is a transverse sectional view taken on the line 4-4, Fig. 1.

From US patent 586,589

There are two ways Bradley’s straight edge safety razor could be used. Either unfolded, as a regular straight. Or folded, with one of the scales acting like a safety bar. A simple toggled hook serves to keep the blade secure in the folded position.

What I cannot quite fathom is how the shaver would hold the razor to get a good shave when it was folded up. It simply looks awkward, which is probably why this idea seems to have gone no where.

The patent can be read, as usual, at Google Patents. It also have been cited by two later patents. One was a hair cutting shaper, patented in 1958. The other was for a razor / thinning knife, patented in 1991.

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