The De Haven Razors

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by jmudrick, Mar 31, 2017.

  1. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    Between 1924 and 1930 Hugh Robertson De Haven filed six patent applications related to his design of a self-sharpening single edge safety razor. Between approximately 1930 and 1937 his De Haven Razor Corporation marketed a number of different models based upon these designs (and further patents filed by associate Thomas J. Pilliod). The fact that the razors all utilized a proprietary blade no doubt limited their appeal to consumers, as it does today to collectors, most of whom will never enjoy a shave with a De Haven.

    I was fortunate to acquire a mint condition Model 3, probably produced circa 1933-35.

    The patent applications most closely resembling the Model 3 were two filed by Pilliod in 1933 but not approved until 1936. From 1933 through 1935 advertisements for a razor resembling the Model 3 appear in magazines such as Popular Mechanics.

    The last mention I find for De Haven Razor Corporation is a 1937 announcement of the appointment of an executive formerly employed by Schick and Enders.

    After having made enough from his various inventions to retire in 1933, Hugh De Haven reappears as inventor of the combination lap/shoulder belt, patent for which was granted to him in 1955. De Haven would become known as the father of crash test studies, his decade as a razor inventor largely forgotten. He died in 1980.


    I will have more to say about my experience with the De Haven. I hope other De Haven owners will share theirs and hopefully fill in the missing pieces in De Haven history.

    The photos speak for themselves:[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Here is a link to the De Haven patents:
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
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  2. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    The patent application filed in 1930 is a design which I believe reflects the Model 2. During 1930 ads appear in the New Yorker for a a De Haven razor sold by Abercrombie and Fitch. The earlier razor has a different mechanism for securing the blade. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

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  3. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

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  4. lightcs1776

    lightcs1776 Well-Known Member

    Interesting write up. Thanks for the information.

    Sent via mobile
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  5. Jayaruh

    Jayaruh The Cackalacky House Pet

    Supporting Vendor
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
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  6. Jayaruh

    Jayaruh The Cackalacky House Pet

    Supporting Vendor
    This is a very interesting thread. I would buy one of these if it popped its head up.
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  7. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

  8. IAmTheJody

    IAmTheJody Gillette-i Master Staff Member

    The Waits Safety Razor Compendium shows 4 different models made by De Haven Razor Company: Model 2, Model 3, Synchro-Keen N0. 1 and Synchro-Keen No. 2.
    Two models were made by Kempf Medical Laboratory: Model 1 and Diplomat Model No. 3.
    Two different company names for a total of 6 models.
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  9. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    Yes. I cannot tell from Waits how the Synchro-Keen models differ from other models. The blade in my Model 3 says Synchro-Keen on it. The only difference may be the cases, which would make sense given the brief production period.

    As I mentioned above there is also the Abercrombie and Fitch model.

    Others have observed nickel plated models, mine appears to be rhodium.

    I'd like to confirm retail pricing, one owner indicated the rhodium model sold for $10 ($180 today), the gold $15 ($275).

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    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
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  10. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    One of the members of another forum ( ERVARGASNY on B&B) posted these.[​IMG][​IMG]

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    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
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  11. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    There we go, standard injector.[​IMG]

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  12. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    Full beard and head shave with the DeHaven 3, Personna injector, AOS Sandalwood. As Tom found in his DeHaven, an aggressive shave but smooth going on the beard. The handle is awkward for the grip changes the head shave requires and it was tricky to maintain proper angle so not as easy there but ultimately a fine shave. [​IMG]

    Would be more photogenic with a pre-55 solid injector blade, may have to give one a try for kicks. Rather exciting to be the first member of the DeHaven Head Shaving Society probably since the FDR administration.

    Folks interested in these should be clear that the early models require an adapter like Tom has fashioned. The model(s) with the clips, as in my Model 3, require no adapter but if the blade breaks in the spine when you try to remove it you could be shit out of luck, proceed with caution.

    Assuming the stock blade is not rusted in its spine, the blade can be removed by using two pliers, one to grip the spine, one to remove the blade. It's very easy to break the blade in this effort, so be very careful as there is not much room to grip.

    Once removed a standard injector can be inserted snugly in the now empty spine without further modification.


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  13. twhite

    twhite Peeping Tom

    Here is my DeHaven #2? This has the wooden box
    Notice the blade. It is different from the #3. this model has a flip cap also.
    As the blades are proprietary. I made up an adapter to hold a standard injector blade. This works really well.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  14. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    Brilliant work Tom, and a beautiful razor. I see a Model 2 in my future.

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  15. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    The Bakelite box for the Model 3 is of historical interest. The box itself is very similar to the one for the Micro-matic and others from the period, but presumably because of De Haven"s relationship with Pilliod (designer and manufacturer of jewelry boxes), the DeHaven box utilized a new and much more elegant spring/hinge mechanism, patented in November 1931, which allows for the box to be secured open or closed without a latch.


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    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  16. DaltonGang

    DaltonGang Ol' Itchy Whiskers

    I dug my DeHaven Shake Sharp out of storage, and saw it has an original blade. It is the same razor and has a wooden case, with felt lining, like @twhite . . I tried to sharpen it by the shaking method, on both sides, but it didn't get sharp. The first generations sharpened the blade against the smooth metal plate. The Dehaven case also had some sharpening compound, but it was dried up, and hard as a rock. I have some Chromium Oxide Paste, and rubbed that on the metal plate. After several hundred shakes, on both sides of the blades, it was sharp enough to shave arm hair, but NOT sharp enough to shave the face, comfortably. This is a very, very, mild razor, with very little bade exposure. I'm afraid this model razor will always be a "Display Olny" razor, unless the modern injector blades are used, with the @twhite adapter spine. But, I doubt the Sharpening method could be used, comfortably with this model razor.
    The newer versions had a mini hone used to sharpen the blade against, and its supposed to work quite well.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
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  17. Slow Joe

    Slow Joe Relishing his obsession

    That's a great looking razor.

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  18. jmudrick

    jmudrick Type A Man

    I can confirm the Model 3 with its stock blade is not a mild razor, and the blade did sharpen up nicely.

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  19. twhite

    twhite Peeping Tom

    The thing is with these type of blades. The more they are used and sharpened. The milder the shave will get. As the blade is fixed from the back. Unlike the old wedge safety razors. Where there is a stop for the front of the blade. That keeps the exposure consistent.

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  20. DaltonGang

    DaltonGang Ol' Itchy Whiskers

    The adapters for the DeHaven Razor came today. I put in a fresh Chick injector blade and did a partial area shave. This is a very mild shaving razor. The modern blade was held in place, perfectly snug. Excellent work, @twhite .
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