It is important to stretch your skin while shaving. So important that several inventors have come up with ways to do it for you, in the forms of razors or attachments. So Giulio Benvenuti was in good company when he invented a razor with skin stretching means. And the means in his case was rollers, which is also a recurring idea on razors. What makes Giulio’s invention stand out is how he used rollers to stretch the skin.
But first, let us see what he intended to achieve with his invention:
According to the invention, the device designed to stretch the skin at that instant when the shaving edge exerts its action against the beard is made up of a series of rollers or similar members such as rings or laminas which lie or rest on the skin along narrow elongated surfaces, said rollers or similar members being arranged on the two sides of a blade if the latter has a double cutting edge, or on one side if the blade has a single cutting edge; however, a series of rollers or the like is provided for each cutting or shaving edge, so as to form a rest and guide for the safety razor when said shaving edge is working.From US patent 2,766,521
Or, when unpacked and simplified, a row of rollers arranged to stretch the skin before the blade edge touches it. Simple, really.
The patent drawings gives a good idea of how this was to be achieved too. Instead of the rollers being parallel, they are tilted in such a way as to stretch the skin sideways. To quote again:
The rollers – or similar members – of a series are aligned, in relation to the shaving edge, on the opposite side of the blade-cover, i. e., below the blade, and each roller has an orientation, appropriately different from all other rollers, for example like a fan, so as to stretch or distend the skin during the sliding of the razor on the skin.From US Patent 2,766,521
This will make machining and manufacture of the razor more difficult, so the patent offers multiple ways of achieving this. There are smooth wheels on a common axle. There are discs that can ride on a raised lug, as well as disks with raised centres that rests in shallow recesses. And there are little knurled wheels individually riveted to a series of bent arms. All very neat and rather fiddly.
And as interesting as all that is, my eyes were drawn towards figure 15 and 16. They depict a skin stretching safety razor of a novel and neat design. And a form that would be easier to manufacture too, if modern materials were used. To quote:
In the embodiment illustrated in Figs. 15 and 16, the razor includes two covers or lids 16-17 forming the handle of the razor, said lids being coupled through the screws 13 which secure said lids 16-17 to an inner box including a device for the opening and closing of the blade-cover. A blade-cover or guard 19 is pivoted at one end on a pin 20 so that it can be raised and pushed against the blade, not indicated in the drawing; said bladeguard has a Series of inclined grooves 19a. The bladeguard is controlled by toggle lever members, contained in the box closed by the two covers 16-17. The displacing device for the blade-cover or guard 19 is controlled by a lug 21 emerging out of an appropriate slot 22, which is formed by the coupling of the lids 16-17; a button 23 helps the operation. The blade-guard is stressed into the closed position by a spring, so that the blade is locked in the right position.
Each lid 16-7 has some indentations capable of housing the rollers 24 mounted in one of the previously described ways and oriented so as to operate the distension of the skin, as previously described.From US patent 2,766,521
All in all this way of making a safety razor looks neat and different, and may appeal to people more used to electric razors. Since the patent is long expired, there is no reason why it couldn’t be copied today – with or without the skin stretching means.
The full patent can be read at Google Patents.