I was just surprised to read that while GEM were making the Damaskeene, ER were making the 1914 and while GEM were making the Mivromatics, ER were making their 1912. I'd previously imagined that GEM and ER were making the same models at the same time but obviously not! So who was making what, and when?
It's a complex tangle of patents, trademarks and names intermingled, intertwined and very well tangled. We're looking ostensibly at Zinn, Gem, ASR, Ever Ready and Star. Gem, for example, is a company name; Ever Ready, Star & Radio, trademarks.
It'd take a brave fellow to draw up anything definitive, but here's my potted history, something which I hope others will tear apart as well as add to:
I'm drawing from Waits and going to look predominantly at what we call the 1912, the 1914, 1924 and Micromatics. Waits tails off into the '50s.
Prior to 1912, a number of evolutionary models much akin to the Lather Catcher basket head.
The first "1912" appears to be the Gem de Luxe, a 1912-style head mounted on an ASR-style long round handle.
1911-1912 Gem de Luxe 1912 Gem "Damaskeene" - the "Damaskeene" 1919 Gem "1912" - what we'd call the "1912" 1930 Gem Micromatic "Open Comb" 1940s? Gem "1912 Junior" 1941 Gem Micromatic "Clog Pruf" 1947 Gem "Flying Wing"
... thereafter, we get the Featherlight, Pushbutton, G-Bar & Contour/II models.
Unlike Gem, prior to the 1930s, Ever Ready did not use the "1912" style head. Their initial offerings were the Lather Catcher basket head on an a short sylindrical handle, then on the ASR style long handle. They were the "American Safety Razor Company" until "Ever Ready" was trademarked in 1923, so although I use the abbreviation "ER" below, they're not "Ever Ready" until 1923.
1911-1912 ER - lather catcher style/cylindrical handle 1912-1914 ER - lather catcher style head/ASR-style long handle 1914-1915 ER "1914" Marked "American Safety Razor Company New York" Patent Pending 1917-1919 ER "1914" Marked "Ever Ready" Patented March 24/14 1918 "Radio" Blade - just a point of interest being perhaps "Radio" predated "Ever Ready" on the razors that are marked "Radio"? 1919 ER Hinged Cap "Brooklyn New York USA" Patent Applied For 1923 "Ever Ready" trademarked 1925 ER "1914" & "1924" produced hereafter marked "Ever Ready" 1930 The Improved Ever Ready ("1912") - what we call the "1912" finally coming into common production (see above, regarding "Radio") 1930s "Star" - supercedes "Ever Ready" and duplicates "Gem" ("1912") 1933-1934 E-Bar - potentially earlier than the Gem offering of the same model?
So, when we intermingle the company timelines, we see than what we call the 1912 was the Damaskeene from 1912, the GEM from 1919, Ever Ready joining the show in 1930 and seceding to Star during that decade.
The 1914 was an ASR to being with, becoming Ever Ready after 1923 along with a new model, which we call the 1924 although that hinged cap had been in production since 1919. Therefore, we can see the pre-1924 "1924" as a rival to the GEM "1912" released in 1919.
Likewise, once the GEM Micromatics came to the field in 1930, Ever Ready picked up the old line "1912" while still being produced by Gem.
Putting it all together ...
1912 Gem Damaskeene (the "1912") 1914-1915 (ER) "1914" Marked "American Safety Razor Company New York" Patent Pending 1917-1919 (ER) "1914" Marked "Ever Ready" Patented March 24/14 1918 "Radio" trademark blade - just a point of interest being perhaps "Radio" predated "Ever Ready" on the razors that are marked "Radio"? 1919 Star became a subsiduary of ASR 1919 Gem "1912" 1919 (ER) Front Hinged Cap "Brooklyn New York USA" Patent Applied For (becomes the "1924") 1923 "Ever Ready" trademarked by ASR 1924 "GEM" trademark redesigned by ASR 1925 ER "1914" & "1924" produced hereafter marked "Ever Ready" 1930 Gem "Micromatic" (the Open Comb) 1930 The Improved Ever Ready ("1912") - what we call the Ever Ready "1912" finally coming into common production (see above, regarding "Radio") 1933 ER "E-Bar" - potentially earlier than the Gem offering of the same model? (Last use of "Ever Ready" in the US) 1930s "Star" - supercedes "Ever Ready" in the US (British market continues with "Every Ready") and duplicates "Gem" ("1912") ... perhaps simply becoming the "Junior" 1930s? Gem G-Bar (introduced after the cessation of the Ever Ready trademark in the US) 1940s? Gem "1912 Junior" 1941 Gem (Micromatic) "Clog Pruf" 1947 Gem (Micromatic) "Flying Wing" 1940s? (Late) ER "Streamline" (British - Ever Ready trademark picked up in Britain ... last used in US in 1933) 1950s ER Featherweight (British) 1950s Gem Featherweight/Pushbutton 1960s Gem Contour 1970s Gem Contour II
So, the Gem "1912" is only a 1912 if it's a Damaskeene, 1919 otherwise. An Ever Ready "1912" is actually a 1930 and Star "1912" were made from 1933. Radio "1912" continues to elude us.
Ever Ready "1914" is a 1914 if "patent pending", 1917-1919 otherwise.
Ever Ready "1924" is a not a 1924 if "patent applied for" which makes it actually a 1919.
Pivotal years seem to be 1912 (Gem Damaskeene "1912" begins), 1919 (Star brought into ASR, Gem "1912" begins & Ever Ready "1924" comes into pre-patent production), 1923 (Ever Ready brand goes full blown) and 1930 (Ever Ready "1912" begins). How's that, folks?
That is superb work Paul, and exactly what I wanted to know! Your post is a very useful SE resource. I still don't understand why the curved top caps on the 1912 Damaskeene and Brooklyn were replaced by the flat caps of the 20s 1912s, since it seems like a step backwards...
You know mjc...I believe, and this is just my theory, that Gem thought that flat beveled cover forced the casual shaver to use the proper angle...I've seen where they allude to this in the micromatic ads..So. it would seem that was their thinking on that bevel in the first place...I don't know, but I do get pretty fantastic shaves with both types...at first I thought I preferred the curved, but now I'm not sure...
BTW Paul....Excellent post..You nailed it....Hope you weren't using an iPhone though...lol...tap a talking is a killer....
Last Edit: Feb 16, 2014 10:33:48 GMT -6 by birdlives
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Yeah - the idea of making the razor more accessible by using a flat cap makes sense. I guess the competition with Gillette, Schick and Durham Duplex was really hotting up by then, and the straight manufacturers had upped their game too with affordable easy shavers like the Kropp. I really think of the interwar period as the Golden Age of razors!
I forgot about Treets and their ilk ... apparently, they don't have a patent date stamped on the razor, so while they're technically 1912s, they're not. Their heads are akin to the GEM Junior - like the 1912, but rounded out front corners. Likewise, they're often seen with the large plastic GEM Junior handle.
I wonder where the blank backed Ever Ready 1912s came in? Also Radio stamped - were these some of the very very first of what became the Ever Ready 1912 in 1919? Perhaps for that year (1918) they were branded Radio ... although the Radio stamped I've seen are British. Again, perhaps an obscure brand to accompany the Radio blades in the UK? Market testing? Recall, we don't see the 1919 year "1912" until 1930 in Britain.
Can a Radio owner confirm whether the head is curved or straight?
I think we can surmise that the curved heads run alongside the Damaskeene, or potentially a handover year in 1919.
Yeah, I think we can see GEM as the staple for ASR - the Gem Damaskeene, then GEM (we call it a "1912") and then GEM Junior. Over in the Ever Ready camp, they put out the 1914 and 1924 in parallel, picking up the 1919 model "1912" in 1930 when Gem made the switch to Micromatics. Gem retained the clearly popular 1912 design in the Gem Junior.
What is interesting is, I've just been reading about a second Gem New de Luxe model around 1924 (it's in the 1925 catalogue) ... and, I think I've just bagged one. Curved head GEM 1912, short lined handle. I'm on the hunt for a decent Star, Treet and Radio now.
So where does the Ever ready 1912 Brooklyn fit in? It's very similar to the Damaskeene with a curved cap but shorter handle with smaller thread. Was this the Ever Ready version of the Damaskeene before the introduction of the flagship 1914. And those curved cap Brooklyns continued in production into the 1920s but was that just using up old stock? And why are they mentioned so infrequently?
And where can I find links to the GEM and ER catalogues?
Around that time, both GEM and Ever Ready released curved capped, short handled razors, presumably to use up the Damaskeene blanks that they already had produced. It would appear that the Damaskeene brand was dropped upon the companies merging. That's my best guess, anyway ...
ASR were proudly "Brooklyn" and so you'll see that stamped on their razors under the Ever Ready brand, the 1914 and the 1912 (which was presumably under license from GEM until 1919). The 1914 ran alongside, my guess being the 1914 and 1924 (actually released in 1919) being ASR's "core" product, their 1912 on the Ever Ready brand being secondary. Again, my best guess ...
I'd be very interested in others' interpretation of events, company timelines and guesses at Boardroom decisions.
The catalogues are mentioned in Waits. Incidentally, ASR and GEM are in different sections in Waits, so lots of flicking back and forth. It would appear that the 1924/5 catalogue was a big deal to both companies.
The Damaskeene and 1930s ER frames are shorter and give a more aggressive shave than the 1920s GEMs, and there's a suggestion that the curved or flat top doesn't actually make a difference to the shave. If anybody can get their heads round this stuff, it's got to be the members of this forum.
The science of GEMology is in uproar once again!!!
Post by norfolkdick on Mar 16, 2014 9:27:13 GMT -6
Where does the 'Quasi' Damaskeene pictured on the right in these photos fit in the timeline? I surmise it is a later model as the GEM Cutlery has been taken over by GEM Brooklyn, curiously the words 'Use Only with' have been dropped from Damaskeene Blades inscription.
I am sure you already know anyway but the model on the left is the standard Damaskeene with the cast handle, the model in the middle is the open comb Damaskeene. All three models have curved tops to the frames.
I have never mastered the 1912 timeline, or for that matter the Valet one either (Schicks are much easier) but all three of these razors shave really well so I am not over bothered. For me the standard Damaskeene seems to be a slightly better shaver but whether this is a general view or just my personal preference I do not know.