The History of Gillette and Schick Razors

How Gillette and Schick Cornered the Market on Razors

standard Gillette safety razor and case

Tommi Nummelin/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Men have been shaving their facial hair pretty much since they first walked upright. A couple of inventors have made the process of trimming it or getting rid of it entirely easier over the years and their razors and shavers are still widely used today.

Gillette Razors Enter the Market

Patent No. 775,134 was granted to King C. Gillette for a “safety razor” on November 15, 1904. Gillette was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin in 1855 and became a traveling salesman to support himself after his family’s home was destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871. His work led him to William Painter, the inventor of the disposable Crown Cork bottle cap. Painter told Gillette that a successful invention was one that was purchased over and over again by satisfied customers. Gillette took this advice to heart.

After several years of considering and rejecting a number of possible inventions, Gillette suddenly had a brilliant idea while shaving one morning. An entirely new razor flashed in his mind—one with a safe, inexpensive and disposable blade. American men would no longer have to regularly send their razors out for sharpening. They could toss out their old blades and reapply new ones. Gillette’s invention would also fit neatly in the hand, minimizing cuts and nicks.

It was a stroke of genius, but it took another six years for Gillette’s idea to come to fruition. Technical experts told Gillette that it was impossible to produce steel that was hard enough, thin enough and inexpensive enough for the commercial development of a disposable razor blade. That was until MIT graduate William Nickerson agreed to try his hand at it in 1901, and two years later, he had succeeded. Production of the Gillette safety razor and blade began when the Gillette Safety Razor Company started their operations in South Boston.

Over time, sales grew steadily. The U.S. government issued Gillette safety razors to the entire armed forces during World War I and over three million razors and 32 million blades were put into military hands. By the end of the war, an entire nation was converted to the Gillette safety razor. In the 1970s, Gillette began sponsoring international sporting events such as the Gillette Cricket Cup, the FIFA World Cup, and Formula One racing.

Schick Razors 

It was an inventive U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel named Jacob Schick who first conceived of the electric razor that initially bore his name. Colonel Schick patented the first such razor on November 1928 after deciding that a dry shave was the way to go. So the Magazine Repeating Razor Company was born. Schick subsequently sold his interest in the company to American Chain and Cable, which continued to sell the razor until 1945.

In 1935, AC&C introduced the Schick Injector Razor, an idea in which Schick held the patent. The Eversharp Company ultimately bought the rights to the razor in 1946. The Magazine Repeating Razor Company would become the Schick Safety Razor Company and use the same razor concept to launch a similar product for women in 1947. Teflon-coated stainless steel blades were later introduced in 1963 for a smoother shave. As part of the arrangement, Eversharp slid its own name onto the product, sometimes in conjunction with the Schick logo. 

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Bellis, Mary. "The History of Gillette and Schick Razors." ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2021, Bellis, Mary. (2021, July 31). The History of Gillette and Schick Razors. Retrieved from Bellis, Mary. "The History of Gillette and Schick Razors." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 4, 2023).