Over the years I’ve talked about a lot of patents for brushes, soap cups, and razors. What I’ve talked less about are cabinets, cases, racks, apparatuses, and containers for putting your shave gear in. And of the ones I have mentioned, King Tut’ankhamūn’s razor-box is the oldest by far. Harry T Petters’ shaving case isn’t quite as old as that, but it is the second oldest case for holding shave gear I’ve looked at so far.
Touted as an improvement in shaving cases, Harry’s case had room for everything a shaver could possible wish for. And a few things a user of a modern safety razor might not wish for.
Under the lid – which of course had a mirror – the case was divided into three. On the left and right was spaces to keep your razors and your brush and comb. In the middle was compartment that had a opening to keep your shaving hug in. Behind the shaving mug was a pair of deeper openings that could hold bottles of bay rum and hair oil.
Under the leftmost partition was a pair of “automatically operating strops”. Judging by the drawing, an automatically operated strop is the lovechild of a strop and a auto-return tape measure… you pull it out, and it tries to roll back in. The upper of the two stops, the patent tells us, were courser than the lower.
After stropping, the razor could be honed on the small hone built into the front flap of the middle partition. This flap ought to be folded down to give easier access to the shaving mug anyway, and Harry cleverly put the exposed surface to use.
Under the partition on the right side there was a small drawer. This drawer, the patent patently explains, is meant to store shaving paper in. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with shaving paper – it seems to be the same thing as razor cleaning paper, a useful tool I was unaware of until I dived into a different patent some years ago. It’s soft paper… that you use to wipe the lather of the blade with.
The shaving case also came with a pair of hooks, one on either side. These could be used to hang it on a wall. Or you could put it on the shaving case on a table, if you preferred.
Overall I really like Harry’s shaving case. True, it has some features less useful to people using safety razors – the retractable strops, hone, and drawer full of shaving paper. But a drawer can be used for many things, such as tucks of blades. And the retractable strops could be replaced by a second drawer. Or the leftmost partition could be given a series of holes, and used to hold several safety razors – much like some people uses test tube racks to hold their razors.
You can read the full patent for Harry’s shaving case at Google Patent. It is detailed enough that you can probably build your own, if you’re skilled in the art.