07-26-2021, 11:20 PM
#1
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We are all familiar with the Khaki Kit – made in huge numbers, handed out to doughboys so they wouldn’t die horrible in the trenches, reproduced and recreated today… but what if I told you there were non-Gillette Khaki Kits supplied by the US Govn’t to the US Army and Navy?
Let me present the GEM Damaskeene Razor Khaki Service Outfit. From the picture, it seems slightly larger than the Gillette version. It came with a lather catcher, seven blades, a mirror, and a blade holder for honing the blades. For 35 cents extra you also got a trench mirror.


[Image: Gem-Razors-1918A.jpg]
Advertisement from the August 10, 1918 issue of LESLIE’S WEEKLY

One US dollar in 1918 is equal to 18 US dollar in 2021 when adjusted for inflation. So that is 18 dollars for the kit, an extra 6.30 for the mirror, and 9 dollars for shipping to Canada. While not terrible expensive, Gillette sold their Service Kit* for just 55 cents.
The drawn razor in this Khaki Kit looks like a 1912 to my eyes.** I assume that you would unscrew the head and put it in the little pocket to the right for storage. Similar to the more well known Gillette Kit – and unlike the Comfy Kit – this kit does not have a space for a brush. I assume a soldier or sailor would do without, or keep one separately in his gear.
A big benefit compared to the Gillette is that you can more easily hone the old single edge GEM blades. They are thicker and less flexible, and any soldier would know how to scrounge up or jury rig a hone or strop. A piece of leather, some duck canvas, even a clean uniform pant leg. It’s not hard to be resourceful if the option is a dull blade and an ill fitting respirator.
Another, minor benefit compared to the more well known Khaki Kit is the lack of snaps. While a broken broken snap closure is broken forever, a string can easily be replaced.



[Image: gem-damaskeene-razor-khaki-service_1_55a...24x576.jpg][Image: gem-damaskeene-razor-khaki-service_1_55a...24x576.jpg][Image: gem-damaskeene-razor-khaki-service_1_55a...24x576.jpg][Image: gem-damaskeene-razor-khaki-service_1_55a...24x576.jpg]
A GEM Damaskeene Razor Khaki Service Outfit, as found on worthpoint.com – note that the blade holder for honing is shorter than in the drawing from the advertisement.

As mentioned, reproductions and recreations of the Gillette Khaki Kit is easily available. So are vintage ones, but while I’m happy to use mine other people see them more as collectors items. So far I have not seen a GEM Khaki Kit for sale, neither original nor reproduction. I think there would be a small, untapped marked^ for them – even if the buyer would have to supply the 1912.


If you enjoy old advertisements, vintage razor patents, and other shaving oddities I have a load of posts about suchlike on my blog.





Footnotes

  1. Similar to their Khaki Kit, but in an embossed metal tin.
  2. And verified by the few photos I found online.
  3. It is my estimate that one or maybe two dozen reproduction GEM Khaki Kit could potentially be sold world wide.

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 07-27-2021, 03:56 AM
#2
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ASR made multiple versions of these, my 1914 came in one of these. With snaps.[Image: 8db33fa6884dbcee5e4a3541b64315c8.jpg]

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 07-27-2021, 05:21 AM
#3
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(07-27-2021, 03:56 AM)jmudrick Wrote: ASR made multiple versions of these, my 1914 came in one of these. With snaps.

Ah, good find - I have not seen that old advertisement before Smile Seems like that it came with two packs of blades - or one pack and a box for used blades.

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 07-27-2021, 05:26 AM
#4
  • chazt
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  • Queens, NY
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These ads and the information you guys have shared is really enlightening. As do many of us here, I enjoy reading the old advertisements that were aimed at my grandfathers. Thanks!

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 07-27-2021, 07:00 AM
#5
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(07-27-2021, 05:21 AM)WegianWarrior Wrote:
(07-27-2021, 03:56 AM)jmudrick Wrote: ASR made multiple versions of these, my 1914 came in one of these. With snaps.

Ah, good find - I have not seen that old advertisement before Smile Seems like that it came with two packs of blades - or one pack and a box for used blades.
I'm guessing the latter as was custom.

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 07-27-2021, 07:59 AM
#6
  • Bax
  • Active Member
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"Ever Ready Radio Blade?"
Radio?
Why on Earth do they call it THAT?
Did it have something to do using their razor blade with foxhole radios?
[Image: CCcw2IU.jpg]
Since these ads look WWI-ish and the foxhole radio didn't come along until Anzio (WWII), that's probably *not* why.

Hmm... why DO they use the word "radio" in connection with shaving?
- Bax

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 07-27-2021, 08:12 AM
#7
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Much the same reason a lot of marketing talked about quantum some years ago, a lot of products in the 90's tacked "2000" on to the product name, and why everything was about space in the 50's and 60's; it was modern, cool and hip.

As far as I know the ASR trademarked the word Radio to use on razorblades around 1918 - around the time when radio really entered the broader public consciousness.

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 07-27-2021, 08:46 AM
#8
  • Bax
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Well, that's a pretty snazzy, hip, groovy, marketable nomenclature, I guess!
Thanks for the INTEL, Quantum Wegian Warrior-2000!
- Space Radio Bax

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 07-27-2021, 12:28 PM
#9
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(07-27-2021, 08:12 AM)WegianWarrior Wrote: Much the same reason a lot of marketing talked about quantum some years ago, a lot of products in the 90's tacked "2000" on to the product name, and why everything was about space in the 50's and 60's; it was modern, cool and hip.

As far as I know the ASR trademarked the word Radio to use on razorblades around 1918 - around the time when radio really entered the broader public consciousness.

They were introduced in full page ads April 1914.[Image: 150ba199580d54147833f437b134b7ba.jpg]

[Image: 6dfc9a1a329ca6738e91d89033d9481c.jpg]

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