Sharpex patent

Over the years I’ve showcased quite a few razor blade sharpeners.1 One I have not showed yet is the Sharpex patent from 1930. I do actually own a surviving example, but it is in rough shape.

As for the why of sharpeners, I have touched upon it before. It boils down to the carbon steel blades of yesteryear not staying sharp as long as modern blades, and blades were relatively costly to replace. Keeping your blade sharp for longer meant saving money as well as getting a better shave.

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Razor and loading device therefor

Or as we know this patent today; the genesis of the Schick Injector type D and onwards. And unlike a lot of the patents I riff on, this one not only made it into production, but is alive and well. And expired, so anyone can copy the razor and loading device therefor found in this patent. The patent relates to:

…a combined razor and magazine which are separable to enable the razor to be used for shaving apart from the magazine.

From US patrent 1,969,945

Or, in simpler terms, an injector as we know and love them1 today. And in contrast to the older type A, B and C razors,2 which had the magazine in the handle.

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Reciprocating single edge roller razor

Some of you may recall the King Oscillator and the Rotary King razors I wrote about a while back. But King wasn’t the first – or the last – to propose a reciprocating razor. Almost a decade before King got his patents, Robert Taylor got a patent for a safety razor. A safety razor where the act of shaving made the blade reciprocate. Or as the US patent office helpfully classify it:

B26B21/36 Safety razors with one or more blades arranged transversely to the handle of the type carrying rollers with provision for reciprocating the blade

As a side note the blade moving sideways or vibrating is an idea that just won’t die, even if it ought to be well known that a razor is not a saw. To me the idea of sawing the blade is pointless – it would be better to keep the blade sharp.

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Fingerspitzengefühl razor

Fingerspitzengefühl [ˈfɪŋɐˌʃpɪtsənɡəˌfyːl] is a German term, literally meaning “finger tips feeling” and meaning intuitive flair or instinct, which has been adopted by the English language as a loanword. And what can be more intuitive than running your fingers over your face? At least that seems to have been the logic of James D Millar, who was granted a patent on a fingerspitzengefühl razor in 1910.

Millard’s razor can be described as lacking a handle, like the better known Gronbech razors1 do. But like the later, it does have a handle – just not a normal one.

The razor is interesting in it’s own right too. With a more normal handle, it could have done well. Or perhaps not – competition was fierce in the early days of safety razors.

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Pocket safety razor

Some times you need to shave on the Go. That means that sometimes you will need a safety razor in your pocket – a pocket safety razor if you like. And while a great many have been patented, Mr P A Benet’s pocket safety razor is one of the earliest I am aware of. It is a neat little Single Edge razor too, just in time for Single Edge September

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Sanitary case for toilet articles and other uses

Everyone likes to store their razor somewhere. Some likes a cabinet on the wall. Some likes a smaller container you can’t get your blade out of. And some like to keep a sanitary case in their pocket. And it was the last group Mr Stephen Woods targeted with his 1909 patent application.

Touted as a “new and useful Improvements in Sanitary. Cases for Toilet Articles and other Uses”, the invention is reminiscent of the WW1 Service Sets and the Gillette Khaki Kit in layout. It differs in how it works though.

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A neat folded sheet metal razor

The world of razors was an exiting place at the turn of the last century. Not only was the Kampfe-Star for sale and King Gillette patented his now iconic safety razor, while razors like the Diamond Edge and Curbo were trying to undercut even the cheap Christy razors. But around the same time you also had people like Guy Osborne and John Elmer Parkison patenting things like folded sheet metal razors. And it is the folded sheet metal razor of Mr Parkison I want to share today.

Mr Parkison filed his patent in 1905, and had it granted almost three years later. I find it interesting because it not only show the construction of the razor in detail, but also details how the blades for it could be made in a continuous strip.

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Raymond V Acken and the tube mounted safety razor

There have been plenty of patents designed to reduce the need to use both a razor and a lathering device. In the past we have looked at a couple of disposable razors with cream in the handle. We smiled at the combination razor and brush. And I’ve shown off an overly complicated brushless razor. But I think my new favourite in this narrow field is Raymond V Acken and his safety razor.

Not favourite as in “I would want one”, mind you. Favourite as in “what the f… was he thinking?”.

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John J Meehan and the razor blade stroppers

Remember the adjustable shavette invented by John J Meehan? As I mentioned, that wasn’t his only shaving related invention. In 1909 and 1911 he received a pair of patents for a razor blade stropper. And while there are some differences between the two patents, what strikes me is the similarities – so I’ll cover them both at once.

Stropping or honing a razor blade to make it last longer or shave better is something most people don’t do today. But back before modern coatings, razor sharpeners were popular to the point of people making their own. So it is no surprise that John J Meehan got in on the action.

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