Five Thousand Formulas for Druggists

Before I start, and I shouldn’t even have to say this, a druggist isn’t a fellow (ab)using drugs. A druggists a US term for what the rest of the world would commonly call a pharmacists. So the title of this book – and this post – really ought to have been Five Thousand Formulas for Pharmacists. Except that the Era Formulary was indeed printed in the US back in 1893, so druggists it is.

And the reason I bring it up – in addition to, y’know, cool old book – is that among the five thousand formulas are some shave related ones.

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Spherical razor

Who says a razor blade have to be flat? What if it was a segment of a sphere, with four or more cutting edges? The blade would in effect be a self contained spherical razor.

I mean, there is a couple of glaring problems with the idea, but even so. It isn’t the first all edge and no point razor we’ve looked at.

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Barbers – a 1959 informative movie

If attractive people are the leaders of society, then barbers and beauticians are the molders of leaders.

This film shows the jobs of a hairstylist, a barber and a beautician and the transformation of an entire family. The father takes his son to the barber shop at the same time that the mother takes the daughter to the beauty salon. Also shown are women receiving manicures and facials.

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Self-heating shaving preparation composition

If a terrific electric razor wasn’t enough to put you of shaving, I have another potential bathroom terror. Self-heating shaving preparation composition. Or self heating shaving cream to you and me.

This horror was invented by Ronald E Moses and Philip Lucas in the mid sixties. And the patent was assigned to Gillette Co LLC, because of course the evil empire of shaving would back this baffling idea.

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Lather foam dispenser

Self lathering or fountain brushes is a dream as old as time. Or at least a dream as old as 1849, and as recent as.. well, at least the eighties. And it still don’t make much sense to me, so I wasn’t expecting anything earth shattering when I spotted Salmon C Harvey’s lather foam dispenser.

Let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed when I looked into it more.

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Self soaping retractable shaving brush

We’ve looked a few travel brushes before. The retractable shaving brush invented by Peter Dynowsky is in a league of its own thought. It is retractable. It is self soaping. And it will ruin the knot in time.

But before we look at how Peter managed this Kinder Egg of a retractable shaving brush, let us see what he was trying to achieve.

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An overly complicated razor

Does a razor need five cogwheels, two axles, two pinion gears, a roller, quite a few pins, a guard, and a blade? I would say no. Frank X George Jr1 on the other hand… he would probably say yes. But then he was the one who filed a patent for an overly complicated razor in 1906.

And why did he do it? To make the blade rattle from side to side…

Or as the patent text puts it:

This invention … has for its principal object the production of a safety-razor or shaving device in which the blade may have a motion simulating that of the razor-blade in an ordinary hand-razor – that is, a motion oblique to the general direction. of the razor.
Another object of the invention is the automatic production of this oblique movement oi the blade as the razor is moved over the face.

From US patent 850,529
Patent drawing for Frank X Jr's overly complicated razor
Patent drawing for US patent 850,529

There are simpler ways to make a blade shake and rattle. Some even resulted in reasonable successful razors. Others are just gimmicky. But Frank X didn’t make things simple. He seems to intentionally have set out to make a overly complicated razor.

There is a big roller. On the end of the roller is a cog wheel. That cogwheel drives an idle wheel. The idle wheel drives another cogwheel. That cogwheel drives an axle. Attached to said axle is not one, but two crown wheels. These in turn turns two pinion wheels. The pinion wheels are connected to a crank disk with two stud shafts. On the crank disk is a blade clamp. In the blade clamp is a wedge blade – although I can see a GEM-style blade being used as well.

So when the roller is rolled over the skin, the motion is transmitted through the whole gear train and makes the blade move back and forth. Which, as I have pointed out before, is kind of pointless if the blade is sharp. After all, a razor is not a saw.

But pointless or not, Frank X got his patent for his overly complicated razor. I am unsure if it ever got manufactured though. I kind of hope not, as several simpler and less complex razors were already for sale.

You can read the full patent at Google Patents, and also at


  1. I don’t know what the X stands for. I therefore choose to believe it is the same middle name as Sir Terence David John Pratchett (OBE)2 mentions in the book Maskerade. As he explains it, the X stands for “someone who has a cool and exciting middle initial”.
  2. Better known to his fans as Pterry or Sir Terry.3
  3. GNU Sir Terry…

Razor drying container

A couple of days ago we looked at a method of increasing the longevity of the cutting edge of steel cutting instruments… or a razor drying container, if you like. But this is far from the only patent for such a useful device. Or, in the case of Patrick Sassano’s invention, abandoned patent application for a razor drying container.

Like Henry in 1918, Patrick in 2013 wanted to make his razor last longer by storing it in a dry spot. Or as the patent text states:

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Method of increasing the longevity of the cutting edge of steel cutting instruments

Some patents have long titles. Like this one, from 1918. And despite the mighty wordage Henry T Baker used in the title, it comes down to making your blade last longer. And he isn’t the first, nor the last, who wanted to increase the longevity of the cutting edge. Even if most of them were a bit… cranky. Or very cranky. At least Henry didn’t resort to psudo-science to increase the longevity of the blade.

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