Combined three positioned shaving brush and lather rubber…

Retractable brushes is nothing new. A combined multi-position shaving brush with a built in lather rubber device? That’s more unusual.

Patented by Leon Tobias in 1920, the brush was – of course – touted as a new and improved shaving brush. In the words of the patent:

This invention relates to improvements in shaving brushes, an object of the invention being to provide a shaving brush equipped with the ordinary bristles for forming and distributing lather and also provided with means for rubbing the lather into the face to soften the heard, the parts so constructed and arranged as to permit either the bristles or the rubbing device to be exposed for use at the end of suitable handle.

From US patent 1,358,597

The device itself is reasonable simple in hindsight. Most of the handle is a sleeve, in which a cylindrical knot-holder can slide. A nub on the knot holder sticks out through a slot in the outer sleeve. The nub – or screw – can engage one of several notches in the slot.

Patent drawing showing the combined shaving brush and lather rubber
Patent drawing for US patent 1,358,597

By nudging the nub from one notch to the next, the loft of the brush can be adjusted. And with the knot all the way back, the lather rubber device is available to, well, rub lather.

The lather rubber device is a rubber disk with multiple projections. Today we would likely make this out of silicon. The idea was that you could rub the lather rubber .- the rubberer? – over your face to work the lather into your skin and stubble. Which should be – according to the patent – safer than using your fingers?

This practice of softening the heard is commonly carried out by rubbing the lather into the face with the fingers and when this operation is performed by a barber or other person, it is extremely unsanitary and more or less dangerous. By providing a device such as above explained, it is not necessary for the barber or other operator to touch the face with his fingers and the massaging and heard softening operation can be easily and quickly performed in a sanitary manner.

From US patent 1,358,597

Now, call me a luddite if you like, but if the thought was that having your barber massage the lather in was unsanitary… perhaps it would be easier for the barber to wash their hands between customers?

Which is not to say that Leon’s invention is pointless. I can definitely see a modern brush like this offered as a combined shaving brush and face massages / exfoliator. My pre-shave routine includes a good wash with a rough wash-tosh, and this could make a decent stand-in for that when traveling.

You can read the full text for Leon’s combined three positioned shaving brush and lather rubber at Google Patents.

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