The Simens Razor Sharpener Patent

A couple of days ago I shared a video I found on the restoration of a Simens razor sharpener. And guess what? I’ve now found the patent for it. Filed by Ferdinand Souczeck in 1933, the patent was applied for in – as far as I can tell – Czechoslovakia, Austria, and USA.

I’m not sure if Ferdinand worked for Simens, of if they simply bought the rights of him. What I do know is that Simens must have manufactured the device in several places. The one I own is clearly marked as made in Sweden, while other examples I found online is marked with Austria, Japan, USA, USSR, and elsewhere.

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Griffbefestigung an Rasierapparaten – handle attachment to shaving apparatus

It is easy to forget, as one is looking at old patents online, that not every inventor spoke English. I’ve looked at several interesting non-english patents in the past, and stumbled over an interesting looking one today too. It is for how to do attach a handle to your shaving apparatus. Or to put it in a different way; a handle attachment to your razor.

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Aloe’s Folding Razor

A razor can take up space in a gentleman’s vest-pocket… a problem several inventors searched for a solution to, including Mr Albert S Aloe. He came up with a folding razor all the way back in 1886.

Described, unsurprisingly, as a new and useful improvement in safety razors, Albert didn’t have the benefit of the thin replaceable blade. Like most razors of this era he had to work with a wedge blade. A wedge blade is chunkier than a modern razor blade, but also has the benefit that it can be stropped and honed.

In hindsight his razor is simple enough. A couple of pieces of sheet metal, shaped to hold and clamp a razor blade. The blade holder and guard were made to fold flat when not in use. In some ways you could see it as a folding version of John Monks’ razor.

Patent drawing showing Mr Aloe's foldign razor
Patent drawing for US patent 375,592

It is worth noting that the first claim in the patent isn’t the razor per se. Rather it is for the spiral guard, which was meant to ‘carry the lather endwise’ when the razor was used. Or in simpler words; keep the lather out of the way.

The blade was held in place by a spring loaded catch. This also made sure the distance between the edge and the guard stayed constant, even as the edge was gently worn away by stropping and honing. You could say the blade was self adjusting to keep it working as intended.

I see no reason why Aloe’s folding razor shouldn’t work as intended, nor any reason why a version couldn’t be made for a GEM blade. At the same time I see no reason why anyone would want one today, as it is unergonomic and looks like a kludge.

You can read the full patent for Aloe’s folding razor at Google Patents.

New arrival: Valet Autostrop VC2

We’ve all been there. You are peacefully puttering around on the internet, and suddenly you’ve accidentally bought a razor. Or two, as I happened to do a couple of weeks ago. So let’s have a look at one of my latest accidental buys; a Valet Autostrop VC1. At least it was listed as a VC1 – right now I’m less certain, as the blade holder is a much closer match to the description of a Valet VC2.

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Adapter for safety razors

Have a Double Edged razor you enjoy? Want to use your favourite GEM or other Single Edged blade? Fear not, Walter Althof1 patented the solution in 1923; An adapter that let you use a single edged blade in a double edged razor.

Well, more on than in. But even so, you could use your favourite single edged blade in on with your favourite double edged razor.

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Combined sales package and razor

Not only did Jacob Schick think up various repeating magazine razors – he also came up with the idea of a combined sales package and razor. Or, put another way, a razor blade dispenser with a built in razor. Or, arguably, a disposable razors that came with a supply of blades.

And the one I’ll discuss today isn’t even his first one… but the improved version.

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The original Schick Repeating Razor

We all know that the Type A was the first Magazine Repeating Razor. But nothing gets created in a vacuum, and Jacob Schick filed a patent for his first repeating razor as early as 1921. And while it could hold a blade pack in the handle as the later types A through C, the main magazine was in the razor’s head.

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Shaving brush with exchangeable fiber pad

Disposable shaving brushes are something we’ve looked at before. As is brushes with replaceable – or exchangeable – knots. So in that respect the shaving brush with exchangeable fiber pad that Marguerite Faucon1 patented in 1921 isn’t earth shattering.

Marguerite ‘s brush with replaceable knot, or, as the original German patent calls it; Rasierpinsel mit auswechselbarem Faserbausch, is a pretty simple idea. But made delightfully complicated, if the drawing is anything to go by.2 There is claws, funnels, springs, and all sort of doodahs.

Patent drawing showing the shaving brush with exchangeable fiber pad.
Patent drawing from German patent 321,121

I’ll let the machine translated text3 explain how it works:

The handle shown in Figs. 4 to 6 is designed so that the Bags can be inserted and removed particularly easily; it contains four resilient claws 16, which tend to spring apart and through a screw spindle 17 is attached to a tube 18. Slides over this pipe a sleeve; this consists of an inner cylindrical spout 19, an outer one Grommet 2o and a union nut 21 which is screwed onto the grommet 2o. The rotation the sleeve is prevented by a pin 22 which slides in a groove 23 of the tube and is prevented from sliding off the sleeve by catches 24, 25. As soon as the Sleeve is pushed up on the tube (Fig. 5), it presses the claws 16 together and forces them to clamp the fiber ball i between them. – Simultaneously slides a detachable one fastened in the sleeve Knife 7 over the cord or paper-existing binding of the puff i and cut it up. If you have the Sleeve down, the claws jump apart and let go of the bag, so that the fibers can now fall apart. The union nut 21 is used at the same time to detachably attach the knife 7 and likewise the spring 3 detachable hold back. One end of this spring engages in a recess 27 and in threaded pieces 28 on the union nut. When you pull the sleeve down goes down the feather and lets go of the fiber ball i, the one with a thin sheath may or may not be surrounded; accordingly is the removal and insertion of the pads very easy and quick.

From German patent 321,121

Which all sounds like fun and games, but it comes down to the four claws holding the exchangeable knot securely until it was released. And when it was released the knot would fall apart, preventing reuse. In that respect this brush was very much like the one patented by Marguerite herself back in 1909.

That’s right. This patent is just an ‘improvement’ on an earlier patent. And by improvement I mean ‘more complicated’. Which goes counter to the principle that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.4

When I looked at Margureite’s earlier patent, I said that I saw no reason why it wouldn’t work as intended. From the vantage point of today, it was functional, but pointless. This ‘improved’ patent though? More moving parts, more fiddly bits, more stuff that can break. The only real improvement I can see is that the claws might hold the exchangeable knot more securely.

The rest of it? All I see is more complexity and less simplicity. Given a choice, I prefer the earlier idea.

You can read the machine translated patent text at Google Patents, and the German original at Espacenet.

  1. née Berger ↩︎
  2. Insert your own joke about Vorsprung durch Technik if you like. ↩︎
  3. Denn meine Deutschkenntnisse sind sehr eingerostet ↩︎
  4. Paragraphed from Antoine de Saint Exupéry ↩︎