Electric Shaver Museum, Rolls Razor exhibition

This is the no-frames/text-only version of the Rolls Razor exhibition of the Electric Shaver Museum. To see the photographs in this exhibition, or to visit E|S|M's other exhibitions click here (unless forced, not available for mobile devices with a screenwidth less than 640 pixels).

The companyA new factoryBankruptcyRazors

The company
Rolls Razor was founded probably around 1920 at Battersea, an area of London lying on the south bank of the River Thames. On 1 December 1922 the Rolls Razor trade mark was used for the first time. In 1926 the company moved to a new location at Cricklewood, London (255-289 Cricklewood Broadway), which was also the home of for example the first Smiths Crisps factory and, for a while, of Bentley Motors' car factory.
Rolls Razor Ltd. is probably best known because of its sets of safety razors with a sharpening device (1920s and later) and later its manually driven Viceroy Non-electric Dry Shaver (patent application filed 1937). End 1940s and in the 1950s Rolls Razor also manufactured electric shavers.

A new factory
Assuming good prospects on the electric shaver market, Rolls Razor opened a new factory in Hemel Hempstead (1952, architect W. Leslie Jones), near London, where it was one of the pioniers in a new industrial area. Already in 1956, however, Rolls Razor announced that it was to close its factory because of mounting losses and fears of a world slump - it was going back 'home' to Cricklewood. The company sold the Hemel Hempstead site and land for expansion to Kodak. Kodacolor film was introduced in 1957 and all the colorfilm processing in the UK was to be carried out at the Hemel Hempstead plant.

The return to Cricklewood did not help Rolls Razor very much. The production of razors was discontinued in 1959, when entrepreneur John Bloom bought the company to market a range of inexpensive twin-tub washing machines. It all ended in a disaster when in July 1964 Rolls Razor Ltd. declared a dividend payment that it was unable to meet. On 27 August the company declared voluntary liquidation. An accountant's report revealed that Rolls Razor, whose assets in bankruptcy were only $2,100,000, was in debt to creditors for $11 million, a lot of money in 1964.

In 1917 Helier Alexandre Vincent of London (UK) was granted a patent for a sharpening device for safety razors (patent GB108531) and for a safety razor. Piero Mariano Salerni, an Italian who lived in London (UK), patented the same device in Switzerland (patent CH77420, application filed 1 August 1917, published in 1918). The connection between Vincent and Salerni is not clear, except that they lived close to each other near Cristal Palace Park in South London. A few years later Salerni, who called himself Count Giri de Teramala later on, patented an improved safety razor system in patents GB184514 and GB184515 for the safety razor and GB184754 for the sharpening device. All these applications were filed in February 1921, and they are the basis of Rolls Razor's set of a safety razor with a sharpening device, which has been manufactured in many versions since. In 1937 the application of a manually driven dry shaver was filed (GB502081). The patent was published in 1939. This is Rolls Razor's famous Viceroy Non-electric Dry Shaver. In the 1940s and 1950s Rolls Razor has been manufacturing several versions of an electric dry shaver.

Electric Shaver Museum
Please note that this is the no-frames/text-only version of E|S|M's Rolls Razor exhibition. To see the photographs in this exhibition, or to see E|S|M's other exhibitions click here (unless forced, not available for mobile devices with a screenwidth less than 640 pixels).
Texts, photographs and illustrations © 1999-2011 Peter de Weijer (E|S|M), unless indicated otherwise. Noncommercial use of the information on this site is permitted provided the source is stated expressly.

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