Looking through History’s ledger, several dates seem worth mentioning when it comes to March 18:
- In 1834 Pennsylvania witnessed the completion of America’s first railroad tunnel, the Staple Bend Tunnel (275 m) east of Johnstown. No doubt, the railway net was spreading, though not fast enough to satisfy travelling and cargo transportation demands from east to west. That’s why
- in 1852 Henry Wells (1805-78) and William Fargo (1818-81) founded the financial
service company Wells & Fargo Co. in New York, which first financed transcontinental stagecoach lines and ships for transporting mail, people and cargo, soon to be known as the most reliable and fastest transcontinental delivery service. The Master Card would be one of its future offer for international financial transactions.
- In 1891, Britain was linked to the Continent by telephone.
- In 1911, Theodore Roosevelt inaugurated the Roosevelt Dam in Arizona, the largest of its kind then in the U.S., and
- in 1965 the Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov would spend ca. 10 minutes in space walking about, the first human being to do so. More here.
Less known and not always listed is Colonel Jacob Schick’s first viable electric razor, then on the shelves for sale, because it took a long while for a marketable product to be developed and, after entering the market, would once again take its time to win public approval, and this only after successive improvements, for its original edition was rather bulky.
The idea of a machine for shaving was not new: forerunners include the Pennsylvanian Samuel L. Blight and the Englishman G. P. Appleyard. Blight had introduced a ‘Beard Grinder’ in 1900. A wooden roller coated with emery would be attached to the belt at the driving wheel of a sewing machine. By pedalling the sewing machine frantically, the wheel would rotate the stubbles away at high speed when moved over the user’s face. It worked, but not without a sewing machine nearby. In 1913 Appleyard applied for a patent of a ‘power-driven shaving appliance’ that already contained finely serrated rotating blades. What was missing was a compact source of power, yet tiny electric motors did not yet exist.
During his time in the Army and especially while being stationed in Alaska, Colonel Jacob Schick (1877-1937) found shaving and the replacement of blades time-consuming and often a tricky business, especially at low temperatures. However, to him a clean-shaven face was a mark of civility and self-respect, so he set out to design a practical solution. His first invention was a manual razor with a blade-disposal-and-loading mechanism, the ‘magazine-repeating safety razor’, inspired by the automatically reloading rifle of the day. He patented this manual version in 1923 and sold it initially through the Schick Magazine Repeating Razor Company, founded for that purpose. However, his main goal continued to be the electric razor, and a first patent could be registered in 1928. Alias, it was too bulky. After years of refinement through hard financial times, Schick registered an improved patent in 1930, which was sold for the first time on 18 March 1931.
For a collection of different shavers, visit the Electric Shaver Museum. There is a youtube demonstration of how the ‘magazine-repeating safety razor’ works. More about the history of electric razors here.
Source: Schick Incorporated