The Philippines: Colonel Jacob Schick
Col. Jacob Schick (1878-1937)
Photo: UPI/Bettman Archive
Jacob Schick was an American who was born in Ottumwa, Iowa. He grew up in the southwestern USA. He showed a knack for management and a genius for invention at an early age. When he was 16, he was in charge of a railway line that ran from Los Corrillos, New Mexico to a coal mine his father had opened.
Schick enlisted in the 14th U.S. Infantry in 1898. He went to the Philippines a few months later with the 1st Division 8th Army Corps. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and returned to the U.S., but went back to the Philippines from 1903 to 1905 with the 8th Infantry. He returned to the U.S. at that time because of a severe attack of dysentery, and spent a year recovering. During this time, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.
Schick's doctor suggested a transfer to colder climates for health purposes, so he went to Fort Gibbon in Alaska to join the 22nd Infantry. His health improved and he was instrumental in laying out military telegraph lines stretching over 1000 miles in the frozen Alaskan interior. He also invented during this time the General Jacobs Boat, which was particularly useful in shallow water.
Schick retired in 1910 after deciding to do some gold exploration in both Alaska and British Columbia. On one of these trips, he sprained his ankle and had to remain close to camp while he recuperated. He killed a moose for food to eat during his forced imprisonment. In the -40° Fahrenheit weather, Schick found it quite difficult and unpleasant to shave and with time on his hands he resolved to come up with an improved method. He drew up crude plans which would feature a shaver with a shaving head driven by a flexible cable and powered by an external motor. The plans were sent off to manufacturers and promptly rejected. Schick put these plans on hold for a time and when World War I broke out, Schick returned to active duty as a Captain. Schick was placed in charge of the U.S. Embassy in London, in charge of troop transport in England. He was promoted to Major, but his health problems came back. After recuperating, he was placed in charge of the Division of Intelligence and Criminal Investigation. In this function, Schick was promoted to Lt. Colonel.
Schick left the army in 1919 and again devoted himself to his dream project of perfecting a dry shaver. In the interim, however, he needed capital, and to get this capital he ventured into the shaving business in another matter. Inspired by weaponry he saw in the service, and wondering why people would risk cutting themselves on new blades, Schick put his inventiveness to work to develop the Magazine Repeating Razor, and in 1925 he started a company of the same name. This company sought "to use the principles of repeating firearms in a safety razor not much larger than a good-sized fountain pen" which could readily be carried in the shirt pocket. It was the forerunner of the injector razor. The blades were sold in clips which were easily loaded into the razor without touching the blade.
The Magazine Repeating Razor was placed on the market in 1926. Although this product was doing well in the marketplace, Schick was devoted to his dry shaver concept. In 1927, his electric was perfected to the point of being a marketable product. He was so sure of its success that he sold the assets of his razor company to the American Chain & Cable Company in 1928 for capitalization. In 1929, the dry shaver went on the market, and in 1930 the firm was incorporated as Schick Dry Shaver, Inc.
Thanks to Phillip L. Krumholz for the above biography of Col. Schick. from Mr. Krumholz's book "A History Of Shaving and Razors" ©1987
Philippines: Colonel Jacob Schick
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Last modified: April 07, 2015