On this day in 1929, former U.S. Army Colonel Joseph Schick, then residing in Stamford, Connecticut, patented a new type of safety razor that made shaving quicker, easier, and more affordable, and fueled the creation of one of America’s most recognizable personal hygiene brands.
Born in 1877, Schick served in both the Spanish-American War and World War I. Between the two wars, he joined tens of thousands of prospectors who journeyed to Alaska in search of gold and an easy fortune. Schick quickly learned that there was nothing “easy” about living in the harsh arctic climate; even routine everyday tasks like shaving became arduous and difficult, if not impossible, to do in the dry, frigid atmosphere. It was there that Schick was first inspired to revolutionize the way Americans shaved by conceiving of a “dry razor” that could be used without the need for soap and water.
Schick’s inventive streak was put on hold, however, as he was called back into Army service for World War I. There, inspired by the repeating rifles he used in combat, he designed yet another shaving innovation — the “magazine repeating safety razor” which could quickly and safely swap out new razor cartridges with the touch of a button. Spare cartridges could be stored in the handle of the razor. The entire package was compact and easy to use, even with just one hand. (Schick himself had sustained injuries to his hand that made ease-of-use a top priority in his design.) He was so confident in his design that he founded the Magazine Repeating Razor Company in 1925, setting up shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut before he even secured a patent for his razor design. On July 23, 1929, the U.S. Patent Office finally granted Schick a patent for his new “shaving implement.” With the proceeds from his popular “repeating razor,” Schick resumed his quest to design a “dry razor,” eventually resulting in his invention of the electric shaving razor in 1930. Today, the eponymous shaving razor company founded by Schick is a household name, selling millions of razors annually, and remains headquartered in Connecticut.
“Jacob Schick Invents the Electric Razor,” connecticuthistory.org
Jacob Schick, “U.S. Patent 1,721,530: Shaving Implement,” Google Patents database