There have been plenty of patents designed to reduce the need to use both a razor and a lathering device. In the past we have looked at a couple of disposable razors with cream in the handle. We smiled at the combination razor and brush. And I’ve shown off an overly complicated brushless razor. But I think my new favourite in this narrow field is Raymond V Acken and his safety razor.
Not favourite as in “I would want one”, mind you. Favourite as in “what the f… was he thinking?”.
Part of what he was thinking can be seen from the text of his patent. To qoute:
This invention relates to improvements in safety razors and has for the primary object the provision of means for applying shaving soap or shaving cream to the face directly in advance of the cutting edge of the razor while in the act of shaving to obviate the customary practice of first lathing the face with soap applied thereto or to a brush and rubbing the brush over the face many times to develop the lather.From US patent 1,899,841
Another object of this invention is the provision of means forming part of the razor whereby shaving cream or soap may be applied to the face in a quantity desired and in advance of the cutting edge of the blade, that the cream or soap will give the necessary lubricant to the heard or hair that the same will be easily severed when moving the razor across the face in the customary manner of shaving.
Or in layman’s terms:
Make the razor put lather down just in front of the blade while shaving. And make the razor in such a way that it will put down lather in a desired amount.
To me, this comically misses one of the points of lathering. To soften the whiskers, lather ought to stay on long enough that the stubble gets wet. But I’m sure Raymond V Acken knew better – after all, all I do is shave.
What interest me isn’t Raymond’s misconceptions. It is how he solved his imaginary problem.
The idea is easy enough to grasp. A fairly standard razor head, with built in channels designed to guide shaving cream to the edge of the blade. The whole thing could be attached to the nozzle of a tube of shaving cream, or to a special shaving cream filled handle that could be squeezed. Either way, the shaver would make his face “extremely moist” before shaving. While shaving an even pressure would have to be applied to the shaving cream tube to maintain a steady flow of lather.
In hindsight it is obvious why the invention didn’t take off. For starters, a shaving cream tube makes a poor handle. Secondly, you would have to keep squeezing the tube or handle while shaving. And thirdly, lather needs time to work.
Mr Raymond V Acken didn’t file any more patents. Given his first one, this was perhaps for the best.
The patent can be read at Google Patents, as usual.