Henry Jacques Gaisman - Mastermind!

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by GlennConti, Aug 16, 2019.

  1. GlennConti

    GlennConti Well-Known Member

    Henry J Gaisman was a super prolific inventor and genius of a businessman. He was born in 1869 and died in 1974.(1) Of his many many inventions, Gaisman had an early interest in safety razors. His first single edge safety razor was patented on May 10, 1904 (US759262A) and he was president of the AutoStrop Safety Razor Company.(2) His razors were a compromise between a straight razor that needs to be honed and stropped and a Gillette blade which was disposable and needed neither.(3) AutoStrop blades could be stropped and therefore did not need to be thrown away as often as Gillette blades. The AutoStrop Company was about one tenth the size of Gillette; in 1929 Gillette's assets were over $57 million while AutoStrop's assets were about $6.4 million.(4) In 1923 Gaisman applied for a patent (US1658435A) on a double edge razor and blade that was an improvement over the design of Gillette's 3 hole blade configuration.(7) Gaisman's blade holes had an "H" configuration whereby the alignment pins of the razor and the blade holes cooperated with each other to resist movement of the blade relative to the guard. Further, Gaisman, in 1911, had patented (US1011938A) a blade manufacturing process where the edges were tempered to make them harder and sharp while leaving the central horizontal middle/intermediate portion of the blade less tempered and therefore less likely to crack or break lengthwise.(5) This was a problem with Gillette's razor/blade combination that if they were over-tightened, the blades would crack.(6) As early as 1926 Gaisman was pitching the idea to people at Gillette that they should purchase his blade design patents.(8) However, his price tag was too rich for Gillette as he was seeking approximately $5 million for it.(9) Gaisman was not above threats as he made it clear he would love to sell to Gillette, but that he would manufacture his own double edge blades under the the Probak brand which he had already established.(10) Gillette under the guidance of MIT graduate Ralph Thompson decided they would solve their problems on their own internally.(11) Their solution to the blade cracking problem was to eliminate the old blade's rounded corners which were stress points. Instead a cut out corner was envisioned by Thompson for which he applied for a patent (US1924262A) on April 25, 1929.(12) Gillette was also fearful that Gaisman's Probak blades would be used in their razors, so they endeavored to redesign their razor whereby the Probak blades could not be used. Because of weak public perception about their products, they wanted to reset public perception and come out with a totally new product. This was the "New" Gillette razor. A feature of the new Gillette razor was a horizontal slot that would block the Probak blade from being able to be used. (13) A patent for this blocking bar was applied for by Gillette on September 26, 1929 (US1826341)(14). Gillette was planning to introduce their new razor and blade combination in The Saturday Evening Post on March 8, 1930 with a huge 5 page color advertisement. Typically the lead time for such an advertising placement would have been 3 or so months.(15) Therefore Gillette would have had to provide advertising copy showing their new top secret ideas in the mid November to early December 1929 time frame. It turns out that Gaisman's AutoStrop was a substantial advertiser with The Saturday Evening Post; frequently running full page black and white ads. It is my belief that somehow Gaisman became aware of Gillette's top secret new designs from The Saturday Evening Post. If Gaisman was to see a proof of Gillette's advertisement layout then he would have all the information he needed to take action on behalf of his company. This is what I believe happened. Gaisman had received a patent on his "H" blade configuration on February 7, 1928. On November 25, 1929, Gaisman amended his 1928 patent to include Gillette's horizontal blocking bar. In addition he filed a new patent (US1876906A) on December 10, 1929 which included Gillette's corner cutouts, horizontal central bar and diamond shaped alignment holes. Gaisman's February 7, 1928 patent was reissued quickly with Gillette's new designs and Gaisman was able to retroactively patent the ideas for which Gillette was currently waiting on approval. Gaisman then sent in a black and white one page Probak advertisement to The Saturday Evening Post which ran March 1, 1930, one week before Gillette's big 5 page announcement. Gaisman's Probak ad showed the new blade design printed with the Feb 1928 patent number. On April 2, 1930 Gaisman and AutoStrop sued Gillette for patent infringement. However, there were no documents proving Gaisman had preceeded Gillette in the formation of the new blade configuration. In other words, the first Gaisman shows the new design on dated documents was November 25, 1925 while Gillettes ideas were officially dated and submitted as early as April 25, 1929. At first Gillette was going to fight tooth and nail in the Federal court system. However, by August 8, 1930 the New York Times was reporting of merger talks between Gillette and AutoStrop. Apparently Gillette had lost all stomach for a court fight, not willing to risk it all on the decision of a judge. Under the terms of the merger agreement, AutoStrop would get 310,000 shares of divided paying preferred shares which also carried voting rights. Gillette would borrow $20 million via issuance of corporate bonds to pay for the shares and the old directors on Gillette's board would be purged in favor of Gaisman and his allies. The coup was complete. Gaisman was indeed a mastermind!
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
  2. GlennConti

    GlennConti Well-Known Member

    The Mastermind!


    His Feburary 1928 patent. See no corner cutouts or horizontal blade slot....


    Gillette's April 1929 patent application with corner cutouts to prevent blade damage....


    Gillette's September 1929 patent application with horizontal blocking bar....


    Gaismans November 25 1929 addendum to his Feburary 1928 patent, incorporating all Gillette's ideas....


    Gaisman's new December 1929 patent with all of Gillette's ideas....


    Gaisman's Probak advertisement on March 1 1930 showing patent numbers from the retroactively amended 1928 patent (reissue 17567 is the key). Gillette's patents are all still pending....


    Gillette's 5 page advertisement on March 8, 1930 which shows the new top secret blade design. I strongly believe this ad was leaked to Gaisman in November 1929....


    Gaisman's AutoStrop sues Gillette April 1930.....


    August 1930 merger. Gillette has capitulated.....

    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
  3. jmudrick

    jmudrick Well-Known Member

    I don't think in Gillette's thinking this started out as the surrender to Gaisman it turned into. I'm sure they thought they'd benefit from his production process if they could reach some accomodation. As I understand it, Gaisman's ability to appoint five directors and take over as President was not necessarily there until it was found Gillette had lied about earnings in prior yesrs.

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  4. GlennConti

    GlennConti Well-Known Member

    I think once Gaisman had his foot in the door it was just a matter of time till he pushed the old guard out. Russel Adams implies the "corruption" at Gillette was overblown and a red herring. Excellent points thank you.
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  5. jmudrick

    jmudrick Well-Known Member

    I didn't get the impression from other sources that it was endemic corruption but mistating earnings was a big deal in the context in which it happened regardless of how deep that knowledge went in the company.

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    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
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  6. brit

    brit in a box

    awesome sir..cool thread..
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  7. GlennConti

    GlennConti Well-Known Member

    Thanks. I have a friend who is an attorney and I brought him up to speed on this story. He told me he believes that AutoStrop’s patent attorney could have gotten competitive intelligence from the US patent office even though such information is usually hidden until the patent is approved. That was his best guess how Gaisman learned of Gillette’s new designs. My best guess is the The Saturday Evening Post gave Gaisman the info.

    My attorney friend is going to try and get court documents for me that explain AutoStrop’s case. Slim chance though because the case was settled and a judge never had to issue an opinion.

    One of my questions is why did Gillette cave in so rapidly? Yes some books give vague explanations but I would love to see what AutoStrop’s lawyers had to prove the designs were Gaisman’s.

    If anyone has an interest in this story, and they have considered it and have nagging questions (like I do) then post your questions here. Thanks again.
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  8. GlennConti

    GlennConti Well-Known Member

    From Robert Waits - A Safety Razor Compendium P449. He dates the New Gillette blade as prior to the Probak blade in 1929. Again where does Gaisman show his ideas predated the Gillette ideas?


    See below picture. Gaisman's Probak is the same as the New Gillette blade excepting extra material removed. As per Waits P449 again corner positioning posts were added by Gaisman/AutoStrop to exclude any Gillette blades in his razors while at the same time allowing Probak blades to be used in the New Gillette Razor. Also, if Gillette was in production of their New blades in 1929 why couldn't Gaisman have simply obtained one, copied the design, amended his patent, gotten the reissue all after the fact? Also what is Gillette's motive to "steal" Probak's design? There was no way for them to profit off of a blade that wouldn't work in the AutoStrop razor but ALLOWED the competitor's blade to work in theirs!! It's lunacy!

    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
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  9. jmudrick

    jmudrick Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure what Waits is dating, is it production start? As you know the New Gilllette Blade wasn't publically available,vor at least advertised until March 6 1930 AFAIK. Other sources I thought gave a January start to production but that's just from memory. Perhaps blade production started before the New razor production. If Gillette production started in 1929 was it before or after Gaisman's November patent addendum?

    What Gilllette seems to have borrowed from Gaisman's '28 patent was the non-circular (Gillette used diamond) receiving openings in the blade which Gaisman had "invented" in 1923 as allowing for more precise fitting than the three hole blade, and reducing tendency for blades to break under strain. The slot concept obviously was Gillette's.

    Anxiously awaiting your receipt of the Autostrop filing .

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    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  10. GlennConti

    GlennConti Well-Known Member

    So this is the actual $20 million dollar heist on a piece of paper. What we have here are side by side are the Gaisman patent 1658435 approved Feb. 7, 1928 and it's reissued 17,567 filed Nov. 18, 1929. This was the document that Gaisman relied on to coerce Gillette to give him $20,000,000. As you can see the drawings did not change. But, an addition 15 paragraphs of claims were added. Somewhere buried in those additional 15 paragraphs of claims is language forbidding Gillette from selling the New Razor.






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  11. GlennConti

    GlennConti Well-Known Member

    If it was as simple as saying circular to non-circular, I don't know why an additional 15 paragraphs were needed. But all that additional language was not covered by the original patent granted in Feb 1928. So Gillette was free to use only a circular hole and all other shapes were owned by Gaisman?
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  12. jmudrick

    jmudrick Well-Known Member

    I have a hard time reading, gotta link to a PDF for the reissue patent?

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  13. jmudrick

    jmudrick Well-Known Member

    I think the US Supreme Court decision I referenced on the other thread found that changing the shape of the receiving holes from one non-circular shape to another didn't constitute a patentable invention. It's clear in Gaisman's 28 patent that the examples shown are illustrations of a concept broader than the particular shapes shown to illustrate the use of non-circular receiving holes.

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    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
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  14. GlennConti

    GlennConti Well-Known Member


    I am having no luck getting the actual court filings. This is the best I could do which was news reporting on the case. This shows Gillette's defense. I still don't know why Gillette tucked tail and ran.
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  15. GlennConti

    GlennConti Well-Known Member

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  16. jmudrick

    jmudrick Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
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  17. GlennConti

    GlennConti Well-Known Member

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  18. GlennConti

    GlennConti Well-Known Member

    Haha, the robber had no bullets in his gun!


    1931 June 10....
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  19. jmudrick

    jmudrick Well-Known Member

    Hindsight is 20/20. They did their best to convince stockholders that the Gaisman manufacturing process was worth something. A good many stockholders weren't pleased with the chain of events and brought suit against the Directors, another factor in the turnover in Directors and CEO that soon took place

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    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
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  20. GlennConti

    GlennConti Well-Known Member

    Frank Fahey and Ralph Thompson knew they hadn't stolen anything from Gaisman. This should have brought them courage to fight.
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