There has been a great many travel brushes thought up throughout the years. They range from simple ideas like my Omega 50014, via oddities like Michel Charles Blondin’s plurality of flat elements, to neat ideas like Marcus B Berhman’s collapsible lather brush. So Archer G Jones was in good company when he patented a retractable brush suitable for shaving and make-up.
Archer claimed his brush was an improvement on collapsing and telescoping brushes. The improvement seem to have been the way the user could vary the loft and spread of the brush easily. Or in the words of the patent:
My invention relates to improvements in shaving and cosmetic brushes, and like articles, particularly to shaving and cosmetic brushes of the collapsible or telescoping type, whereby the bristles of such brushes may be expanded or constricted at the tips by partly or wholly projecting or retracting them out of or into the hollow handle of the brush, the degree of expansion or constriction being determined by the extent of the projection of the bristles beyond the end of the handle of the brush, or by their retraction within the handle, as adjustably provided for.From US patent 1,563,031
What I find interesting is the way the knot of the brush would be moved in and out. The handle would be hollow, and the knot mounted on a cap with a finger sized oval hole. By hooking a finger in this hole, the knot could be twisted along a spiral track inside the handle. A projection on the cap engaged in this track, and the friction ought to be enough to keep the knot from moving back into the handle.
And if the friction was not enough, Archer pointed out that a friction spring could be added.
The use of a spiral track would make it easy to adjust the loft – and thus the springiness and backbone – of the brush accurately. Need a little more loft? Insert your finger and twist clockwise. Brush too floppy? Insert a finger and twist widdershins. Neat, simple, and repeatable.
I like Archer’s idea. And I think it would still make for a neat travel brush today, perhaps made with modern materials and a synthetic knot.
As a side note, Archer also stated that his brush were to be made from the softest and least abrasive bristles. Something I think would be fairly obvious, but perhaps I am a little naïve when it comes to brush making.
You can read the full patent on Google Patents.