So what makes a razor worth looking into? Well, this 1905 Gillette advertisement from the December issue of Scientific American don’t actually answer that question, but implies that the Gillette has those qualities that makes it worth looking into. It also makes some claims that are strangely familiar to what P&G says about their plastic cartridge monstrosities today…
The visual style differs between the three ads. This could be down to the fact that they were aimed at different audiences. Or it could be down to being made by different artists or advertisement companies. Either way this one has a fun little photomontage near the top. Today an image like that would take less than an hour on a computer, but back then it would entail knife, scissors, glue, a camera, and some time in a darkroom. I do find it interesting that the photomontage includes both blue collar and white collar workers. This is likely to imply that the Gillette razors was for everyone.
Like in the two other ads, the razor is sold in a case along with a dozen blades. This, as the ads takes pains to point out, means you get twenty four edges. And just as Gillette of today claims that their plastic carts are good for up to a month of shaving, Gillette of 1905 claimed that a blade would give you twenty to forty smooth and delightful shaves. And just like a doubt the claim that a cart lasts a month, I doubt the claim that a DE can last for forty shaves. Especially without honing or stropping.
One interesting thing about this ad is that it don’t actually quote a price for the razor, only for the blades. The blades would set you back a dollar for a dozen, which sounds cheap. But since inflation is a thing, a dollar in 1905 is the same as more than 30 US dollars (27€, 24£, 322 NOK) today.
This ad also refers to patent no 775,134, which is one of King Gillette’s first patents. And interestingly, given that the reference is made in reference to the blades, this patent does not show the blade with three round holes we’re all more familiar with. Instead this patent shows a blade with one central hole and two narrow slits.
The ad also makes a reference to an interesting booklet explaining Gillette’s 30 day free trial offer. I’ve have spent some time looking around the internet, but I’ve not found a copy of the booklet.