Retractablebrushes is nothing new. A combined multi-position shaving brush with a built in lather rubber device? That’s more unusual.
Patented by Leon Tobias in 1920, the brush was – of course – touted as a new and improved shaving brush. In the words of the patent:
This invention relates to improvements in shaving brushes, an object of the invention being to provide a shaving brush equipped with the ordinary bristles for forming and distributing lather and also provided with means for rubbing the lather into the face to soften the heard, the parts so constructed and arranged as to permit either the bristles or the rubbing device to be exposed for use at the end of suitable handle.
Remember the abandoned patent application I shared with you last week? Remember how I said one reason for the abandonment might be the existence of a lot of prior art? Well, I found one piece of prior art; Dyer T Kendrick’s 1902 patent for a push up shave stick.
I’ve discussed various self loading brushes before. But all of them, including the one from 1849 as well as the Brush Plus from the eighties, used soap that was either liquid or semi-liquid. Woodburry P Lefavour’s shaving brush patent from 1890 is the first I’ve seen that used a solid soap.
Inventions are – when all is said and done – solutions to a problem or an improvement to the state of the art. Lefavour claimed that his brush was a new and useful improvement to the humble shaving brush.
These days, advertisement posters and signs are cheap, cheerful, and on paper. Here today, gone tomorrow. Use and discard. Back in the days however, signs promoting wares could be more durable. Meant to last a long time.
The Great War – which gave us such things as the ComfyKit,1 the smooth shaven soldier, and body shaming the ladies – ended in November 1918. Interestingly enough, that almost immediately prompted a change in how razors were marketed. As an example, I have two advertisements for the GEM khaki kit for you today. One from 1918, and one from 1919.
The origin of the term ‘safety razor’ is a little unclear. As documented over at razors.click, the term did not originate with the Kampfe brothers as so often claimed. But no matter who came up with it, or when, it was in common enough use by 1887 that Gustavus Rein explicitly used it both as the title and in the body of his patent. Which is interesting enough, but what really caught my attention is that the razor that Gustavus Rein patented was a twofer. Not only was it a hoe-style wedge razor, but it could also be used as what we today would call a shavette.
Metallic razor strops must been popular in the middle of the 19th century. Not that long after the self-corroding bimetal hone and the polished metal strop, Jacob Wolf got a patent for an improvement in razor strops. An improvement that included, you guessed it, metal.
Zinc, to be specific. As most of you know, zinc is a fairly soft metal,1 so using it for stropping or honing a razor at least shouldn’t damage the harder steel of the razor.