Clark Blade & Razor Co razors

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by BBS, May 21, 2023.

  1. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    This thread is to highlight some earlier SE razors produced between 1909 and 1930 by either Clarks Blade & Razor Co. or ISR (International Safety Razor). Clarks were primarily known for making replacement blades for all the major types of razors in the day including a DE blade that didn't violate Gillette's patents on their 3 hole barrel blades. They also produced their own razors which in my opinion are some the better SE razors produceed during this period.

    What these particular razors have in common is they are all designs patented by Joseph Molkenthin Jr in the early 1900s. Molkenthin was an interesting character that was the first to come up with alternate designs to compete against the major razor and blade manufacturers starting in 1909. Not only did he come up with this design to compete against ASR which owned Gem, Ever Ready and Star SE brands he also came up with the very first DE razor made in the US to compete against Gillette while their original patents were in effect.

    Molkenthin's SE patents
    MKI King razors

    MKII King razors

    MKIII King razors

    These razor sets sold by Clarks were branded as Dollar or Silver King razors depending the finish. The came in 3 major makes. Make I and II Dollar King Sets usually were nickel plated and Make I and II Silver King Sets were silver plated. The razors themselves were either called The King for Dollar King sets or Silver King for Silver King sets. They came with various cases too. Both variants also came in boxes without cases called Trial King sets. The Make III versions were called Improved Clarks King razors and only came in silver plating. These razors are some of the best performing SE razors you can find that use GEM style SE blades. They vary in aggressiveness depending the make There were a total of 3 versions, the first were fairly mild, the second very aggressive along the lines of a Gem Micromatic open comb and the make 3 which is somewhere between the make 1 and 2 versions but more to the mild than wild side. The way they worked was simple in that when tightened to handle it lifted the lower base plate to press against the blade and hold it in place.

    The first version or MK1 of these razors. This one happens to be a Silver King. These were produced between 1910 - 1911.

    Here is a nickel plated version that was sold in a Dollar King set
    Last edited: May 21, 2023
  2. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Here is a MKII version. These were the most aggressive versions. They were produced between 1911/12 - 1916. In this variation they shortened the upper base plate.

    Here is another MKII in a Trial King set

    Finally the MKIII versions which were called Improved Clark's King razors. These were produced from 1916 until the mid 1920s.
    Last edited: May 21, 2023
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  3. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Here are some variations sold by ISR (International Safety Razor)

    This one is called an IVogue and is a fancier version of the MKII Clark's King razors as can be seen here.

    This one is called a Liberty and is based on the MKI version of the Clark's King Razors. It is not a copy but a redesign that was put out by ISR between 1921 - 1924. It is by far the most aggressive shaver of the 5 razors highlighted.
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  4. twhite

    twhite Peeping Tom

    These are nice razors. I have 3 different types. I will need to see what ones I have.
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  5. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Besides these razors some other designs they put out between 1909 - 1920. They made a razor called the Winner that was designed to compete against Autostrop SE razors using the same style blade.


    Last edited: May 21, 2023
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  6. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Finally their foray into DE razors. This one to my knowledge was the first DE razor ever produced in 1909 to compete against Gillette. They managed to bypass their patents by making a DE blade with a single cut out that fit on Gillette's 3pc razors but in turn Gillette's 3 hole barrel blades wouldn't fit the Clark razor. It is also the first razor to make use of a differential guard. This razor lasted until about 1911.

    9sbEKxz.jpg maSYGFH.jpeg

    This razor is unknown if it is a Molkenthin design but he did patent a flip top DE in 1909 that used a proprietary blade design as seen here in this 1909 patent.
    Last edited: May 21, 2023
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  7. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    I've sold my MKI and MKII Silver King razors but still have the rest of the Gem style razors pictured.
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  8. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Just to clarify, the DE style, Valet style, and GEM SE style took Clark/ISR branded blades for each type, but also took the respective blade of the style they imitated? (With the exception of the old three hole Gillette blades).
  9. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    Yep and can still be used with modern versions of those blades. They also made blades that fit Enders razors, Those Clark King razors shave really well at least as good as any GEM, Every Ready or Star SE razor from the same time period. That is partially what makes the Clark SE razors designed by Molkenthin desirable to a segment of SE collectors like @twhite and myself.
    Last edited: May 21, 2023
  10. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

    More on this. The razor pictured and proprietary blade that also fit Gillette razors were actually invented by Osroe A. Clark of the Clark Blade and Razor Co.

    Razor patent

    Blade patent

    They were subsequently sued by Gillette and lost in 1911 so that is the reason why the razor and the DE blades disappeared from the market that year.
    Gillette Safety Razor Co. v. Clark Blade & Razor Co., 187 F. 149 (1911)
    Last edited: May 21, 2023
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  11. BBS

    BBS Well-Known Member

  12. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    I know that Weck was selling their razors before that, as was Curley's, back in the 1850's.

    Curley's is considered a transitional razor, but the argument could be made that it is a shavette, as it takes replaceable blades.

    Edit: Weck Sextoblade patent is 1909.

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