Every invention seeks to solve a problem. In the case of John T East’s shaving mug, the problem was that of unsanitary shaving mugs. Or, to use a less technical term, icky soap.
According to John, the soap would fit snuggly in a regular mug, and thus get moist and soft, and, well, icky. Or in the words of the patent;
This invention relates to improvements in shaving mugs and has reference more particularly to a shaving mug intended for use by barbers which is equally suitable for individual use.From US patent 2,215,691
The ordinary shaving mug is difiicult to keep clean and in spite of the greatest precautions, it is unsanitary.
The ordinary type of shaving mug is of such size that a cake of shaving soap will fit the in– terior snugly and rest on the bottom.
After the mug and soap have been in use for some time, the water softens the soap around the edges and makes the soap very unsatisfactory besides givingthe mug and the soap an appearance of uncleanliness.
John was neither the first nor last inventor seeking a sanitary shaving mug. Previously we’ve looked at a sanitary package, two different shaving cups invented by Angelo Piccione, an aseptic shaving cup for barbers, a disposable shaving cup, and more. John focused less on disposability and stream punk goodness, and more on keeping the soap from getting soggy.
This he managed by keeping the soap in a separate compartment of the mug. This had a number of drain holes leading into the main compartment. In the soap compartment there was a ledge that held the soap of the bottom, and helped keep the drain holes clear. There would be, according to the patent, a significant space between the soap and the bottom of the compartment.
This, John claimed, would make the mug easy to use and easy to clean. Or as the patent text states:
When this mug is used for shaving a small amount of hot water may be poured into the compartment 13 and a cake of soap 12 positioned in the upper compartment, as indicated in Figure 3. After the shaving is finished, the cake of soap may be removed after which the two compartments can be readily cleaned by means of hot water and the soap replaced. The facility with which this mug can be cleaned and sterilized and the facility with which the cake of soap can be introduced and removed makes it practical to always maintain these two elements clean and perfectly sanitary.From US patent 2,215,691
While I don’t see any showstoppers in the patent, I also don’t see much of a point. But then, I shave in an era where mug soaps are less popular. So much so that WIlliams Mug Soap – which I find to be a decent soap – was discontinued last year after being on the marked for over one hundred and sixty years.
You can read the full patent for John’s shaving mug at Google Patents.