Before I start, and I shouldn’t even have to say this, a druggist isn’t a fellow (ab)using drugs. A druggists a US term for what the rest of the world would commonly call a pharmacists. So the title of this book – and this post – really ought to have been Five Thousand Formulas for Pharmacists. Except that the Era Formulary was indeed printed in the US back in 1893, so druggists it is.
And the reason I bring it up – in addition to, y’know, cool old book – is that among the five thousand formulas are some shave related ones.
If attractive people are the leaders of society, then barbers and beauticians are the molders of leaders.
This film shows the jobs of a hairstylist, a barber and a beautician and the transformation of an entire family. The father takes his son to the barber shop at the same time that the mother takes the daughter to the beauty salon. Also shown are women receiving manicures and facials.
If a terrific electric razor wasn’t enough to put you of shaving, I have another potential bathroom terror. Self-heating shaving preparation composition. Or self heating shaving cream to you and me.
This horror was invented by Ronald E Moses and Philip Lucas in the mid sixties. And the patent was assigned to Gillette Co LLC, because of course the evil empire of shaving would back this baffling idea.
Self lathering or fountain brushes is a dream as old as time. Or at least a dream as old as 1849, and as recent as.. well, at least the eighties. And it still don’t make much sense to me, so I wasn’t expecting anything earth shattering when I spotted Salmon C Harvey’s lather foam dispenser.
Let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed when I looked into it more.
A couple of days ago I posted about an all in one shaving kit. As mentioned, that patent is cited by a couple of much more resent patents, including this one from 1991 for a portable shaving brush.
As I keep repeating, inventions are about solving problems. Some are imaginary, others are real. And the problem Paul Hiromura tried to solve was traveling with a brush. To quote from the introduction to his patent:
It can be hard to keep track of your razor, your soap, and your brush. At least it can be if you got more than one of each, as many of us enthusiasts do. But fear not – Frank W Grady patented an all on one shaving kit in 1915 that will make it easy for you.
Provided you can deal with having only one razor, one soap, and one brush that is. And the soap has to be a soap stick.
As we all know shaving brushes is a source of anthrax and other horrible germs. So how do you make sure your thrifty barber only uses his disposable shaving brush once? Apart from making it out of paper, that is? Fear not, Marguerite Faučon secured a an Imperial German Patent on a self destroying disposable shaving brush back in 1909.
The idea is sound enough, for certain values of sound. You wanted to make sure your barber used a clean, hygienic, and preferable antiseptic brush when he lathered you up. but how could you at a glance see that this was the case?
The self-soaping shaving brush is not a new idea. We’ve looked at various ones from 1849and onward upuntil the 1980s. But what we have today is not not a self-soaping brush – it is a self-watering brush. Although you could likely use it as a self-soaping one too, with the right liquid soap.
Most – if not all – inventions try to solve some form of problem. Some are successful. Some solve problems we no longer have. And sometimes the problem is imaginary. As to which category James B Fischbach’s self-watering brush falls in… well, let’s look at his patent.
The object of my invention is to construct a brush used for shaving purposes, and to effect certain improvements of this character whereby simple and efficient means shall be provided for forcing water into the brush and for readily controlling the flow.
It is also constructed to fill itself when said brush is placed in water, and at the same time when the brush is being used it supplies the bristles or hair of said brush with said water.
From US patent 583,702
The secret is on the inside of the otherwise normal looking brush. A rubber bulb with an elongated teat sat inside the hollow handle. The tip of the teat nestles between the hair of the knot. When a operator wants to shave, he places the brush in water as normal. And then he pushes on the bulb, expelling the air. This, in turn, makes the bulb suck water through the teat. Then, while he is lathering normally, the operator can push the bulb to squeeze some of the water into the knot to hydrate it.
Yes, I’m not sure either as to what benefit this would have. A easy way to add water to lather, but I can think of other and simpler ways to achieve it.
I think we can add the patent for the self-watering brush to the list of patents that solves imaginary problems.
An interesting thing about old patents – especially really old ones – is that the inventions looks so… obvious today. Like this 1870 patent for an improvement in shaving-mugs. A hundred and fifty three year later is just a shaving mug. Back in 1870 Frank B Clock’s idea was a non-obvious improvement to the state of art. Time marches on, I guess – for better or worse.
The problem of how to store our brushes have been with us a long time. Store it bristles up, and the handle gets wet. Store it bristles down, and the bristles may deform. Luckily Samuel T Varian have come up with a simple shaving-brush holder that can easily be clipped onto your shaving mug. Or anywhere else, for that matter.