Gillette: Steel and the First Disposable Razor Blade: Background information when reading Stuff Matters

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Stuff Matters

Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World

By Mark Miodownik

Stuff Matters
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  • Hardcover: May 2014,
    272 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Gillette: Steel and the First Disposable Razor Blade

One of the chapters in Stuff Matters is devoted to steel, and Mark Miodownik mentions the Gillette safety razor blade and its inventor King Camp Gillette, as being responsible for the "democratization of shaving."

King Camp GilletteKing (yes, that really was his first name) Gillette was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, in the mid-nineteenth century to parents who were tinkers. The family settled in Chicago but when their hardware business was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, they moved to New York. King Gillette became a traveling salesman selling miscellaneous wares to which he constantly made improvements. It was during this phase that Gillette realized greater sales could be had from disposable products. While on the road, Gillette used a safety razor called the Star Safety Razor. It consisted of a base handle which could be unscrewed and a shaving blade attached. The blade was perpendicular and was clamped tight in a wedge between two pieces of metal. It was an improvement in that it ...

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