A new blade for a new razor – but not the blade we use today

Advertisement that ran in the United Farmers of Alberta, Vol. 9, no. 7 (Apr. 1, 1930)

In 1930 Gillette’s new blade – the one with the slot – went on sale, and looks almost like the one we use and love today. Almost, but not quite… since today’s blade is the descendant of the blade that originated with the Probak razor. There differences are slight, and the lawsuit, counter-lawsuit, and corporate takeovers were… complicated. In the end Gillette bought AutoStrop (who owned Probak), but the real story on who gained control of who is something I have not dug into too much.

Luckily Glenn Conti over at the Gillette Adjustable Razors site have done just that, writing a wonderfully detailed analysis of the whole thing. Well worth a read.

In the mean time, enjoy the advertisement for the New Gillette Blade that didn’t quite make the cut.

Euxesis – a Victorian shaving cream

No soap, water or brush required – sounds like the brushless creams of today, or possible the canned goo that the multinationals sells. It is, however, the tagline is taken from an advert in the British Navy and Army Illustrated magazine, from 1899… singing the praises of the Euxesis shaving cream.

The name Euxesis might come from the greek root “eu” – meaning good – and “xesis” meaning to scrape… so the name might mean “good shave”. The word was made up by Solomon Morgan Lloyd – the man whom allegedly invented the brushless cream – some time before 1850 if my light research is to be trusted. I have not uncovered any patents in his name covering shave creams, so he might have bought the idea of someone else.

There is also some speculations online that Euxesis also inspired the creation of the Burma-Shave shave cream, although I’ve not uncovered firm proof of that.

Taken from Navy and Army Illustrated 1899

Judging by the sources, Euxesis wasn’t a shaving soap, but was instead:

…an emulsion of some one of the expressed oils, together with an certain amount of perfumery; that it is not saponified, is not soluble in water, and does not possess any of the properties of a soap.

Treasury Decisions Under Customs and Other Laws, Volume 34

A lot of the early advertisements I can find online is aimed at British military personnel, which makes sense seeing as how a soldier of the Empire might find himself serving far away from the comforts of home, but a British gentleman wouldn’t dream of giving up the trappings of civilisation – so shaving was a necessity, even if you’re serving somewhere where heating up water for your morning toilet were a senseless waste…

Really fancy shave gear

How about a gold lined shave brush and mug in embossed silver plate? Yours for just 2.48$ – in 1897, that was… so according to inflation calculators it would be a mere 80$ or so today.

Too much? How about 2.25$ then, for one with somewhat less embossing? No? They are very fancy…

Both were listed in the Hugh O’Neill & Co. 1897-98 Fall and Winter Catalogue – Hugh O’Neill being – in effect – a multichannel merchant. The company had a huge department store in New York, as well as shipping out about a quarter million catalogues every year. In many ways a competitor to the more well known Sears Catalogue, it’s not surprising that they were showcasing shaving gear.

I’m not entirely convinced they were rugged enough to survive in any great number until today – the silver plating and gold lining were probably as thin as they could possible make it, to save on valuable resources. And when the fashion turned against the embossed designs, they likely got discarded or used for less glamorous needs.