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.
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.
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…
This epochal invention – the Warner Fountain Shaving Brush – carries it’s cream in the handle, as a a fountain pen holds ink. When you turn the control the cream is released in the bristles. Then dip the brush in water and it lathers copiously. To shave this way, a man doesn’t have to soap his brush or his face – or to whip up lather in a shaving mug. This new way appeals espesially to men who find a stick or tube bothersome – ofttimes the tiny tube cap gets lost on the floor. The Warner Fountain Shaving Brush ends all annoyance and tinkering. It’s the team-mate of any razor – and ranks with the safety razor in convenience.
Speaking of the cream; Warner apparently teamed up with the manufacturer of the far-famed Mennen’s Shaving Cream – fresh cartridges with enough cream for two to three months of shaving available at any dealer for a mere 35 cents.
According to the advertisements, the knot itself was a celebrated Rubberset brush – soft and thick bristles set in a bed of vulcanised rubber, guarantied by both the Rubberset makers and by Warner. The knot was detachable and easily sterilised (just “…drop in boiling water”), and the nozzle that delivered the cream into the knot was self sealing to prevent the cream from drying out.
Enough of Warner’s Fountain Brushes must have been sold for the brush to show up on online auctions sites from time to time… but given how pristine the boxes sometimes looks I’m not convinced they saw a lot of use – possible it was better as a Father Day gift when you were out of ideas than an actual daily driver in the bathroom?