Gets you coming and going

In 1907 Mr Joseph J Steinharter got improved what he claimed to be certain new and useful improvements in safety razors. As you may have guessed, I’m not convinced of how useful or how improved his idea was, but his safety razor would at least got you both coming and going. So there is that at least.

The first decade of the last century must have been an exciting time for the small scale inventors of shaving gears. Not only had Gillette patented his first safety razor, but brands like the American Safety Razor Company were also manufacturing and selling razors with replaceable blades. The whole art of shaving was changing. So there was a lot of not-quite-imitators cropping up, patenting a lot of good and less good ideas…

I’m not sure just how good some of the ideas highlighted in Steinharter’s razor would be. But I do think at least part of his idea was less good.

But first, let us see what he was trying to achieve.

This invention relates to a safety razor that is designed to provide a casing to hold a razor blade or blades, and is designed to provide, adjacent to the cutting edges of the blade or blades, a roller which acts both as a guard, and also tends to rotate and to draw back, from the edge of the blade, the lather and the hairs that at present accumulate adjacent to the cutting edges, and tends to keep the cutting edge of the blade cleaner and less apt to have its efficiency interfered with by the accumulation aforesaid.

From US patent 875,008

So… a razor with one or more blades, in which one blade act as a guard for the other, rollers (which isn’t a new idea), and which catches the lather so it isn’t in the way. The fun bit is how it was done, really.

Patent drawing, showing a safety razor that got you coming and going
Patent drawing from US patent 875,008

The patent drawing shows how the two single edged blades would be inserted into a hinged holder. A lip on back of the blade would control how much edge was exposed. The roller would be built into the hinge, and would not quite touch the blades.

Said hinged holder would be mounted on a handle and kept in tension with a rod and nut. To me at least that sounds like a failure to make it adjustable – I can see how adjusting the rod up and down could have adjusted the acuteness of the angle between the blades. That in turn would change the angle between the blade acting as a guard and the blade doing the cutting.

It seems, however, that the reason for making the blade holder hinged and detachable was to make storage of the razor more compact.

The patent don’t spell it out, but this razor would be able to cut while going both ways – both coming and going, as it were. If that wasn’t part of the intention, there is no point in having two blades. And while sliding the razor down will act to tension the skin… pushing the razor up will tend to buch the skin up. Not a lot, but enough to increase the risk of nicks and cuts.

Stainharter’s razor would get you coming and going. But it also seems the razor went no where, as the patent is all I can find about it.

You can read the full patent for the razor on Google Patents.

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