A less messy shaving cup

Shaving cups are nothing new. Not even in 1901, when George M Müller1 filed and got a patent for a less messy version. Not that I find my shaving mugs, cups, and bowls to get messy – but these days most people don’t keep their soaps in the cups.

We’ve looked at several improved shaving mugs or cups already. Including ones to keep your soap from getting gross, and ones that allowed you to drain them without the soap falling out. But George did one better by making sure there would be no2 sticky annular deposit of soap along the edges. And less wasted soap too.

Patent drawing showing George M Müller's less messy shaving mug.
Patent drawing from US patent 688,259

George did this by not only having a perforated plate between the soap and the brush, as – apparently – was the style of the times, but by having a gasket on the plate between the soap and brush.

The brush would be lathered through the holes in the plate. As the soap was worn away, the pressure from the brush would push the plate down.3 Which would make your shaving cup less messy, allegedly.

Or as the patent explains it:

Lather is formed by moistening the brush in the ordinary way and moving it quickly over the openings d3. Soap sufficient for the purpose is readily caught up. as the soap wears away it or the plate is turned to bring previously unaffected parts beneath the openings, and as the surface of the soap is worn away the pressure of the brush causes the plate to follow that surface downwardly. The packing fully prevents the water employed from reaching the soap around the edges of the plate, and the cup is much more easily kept clean.

From US patent 688,259

Unsurprisingly there is several things to poke at here. There is the inherent trouble of making a gasket that is tight enough to be waterproof, yet loose enough to let the pressure from the brush push it down. There is the absolute necessity that the ‘barrel’ of the shaving cup is completely cylindrical – even if mugs are easier to free from their moulds if there is a slight taper to the insides. And then there is the fact that the idea is unlikely to work well.

Unless you would get a near prefect seal between soap and plate, water will seep through and collect in the lower part of the cup. And the gasketed plate would make it hard to get it out again – thus turning your soap into a mushy mess. And your less messy shaving cup into a more messy shaving cup.

You can read the full patent for George M Müller’s less messy shaving cup at Google Patents.

  1. Residing at Brooklyn, in the county of Kings and state of New York – but clearly of German extraction if the name is an indication ↩︎
  2. Or less, at least. ↩︎
  3. This implies that George used a brush with a lot of backbone… ↩︎

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