King Camp Gillette

King Camp Gillette


King Camp Gillette 

January 5, 1855: Inventor of the Disposable Safety Razor

Brother King Camp Gillette should need no introduction to Freemasons around the world, as every Mason has probably used one of his namesake inventions at least once. Gillette was born on January 5, 1855 and invented the best-selling version of the safety razor. Although several models were in existence before Gillette’s design in the late nineteenth century, including the popular straight razor which constantly needed to be sharpened, Gillette’s innovation was the thin, inexpensive, disposable blade of stamped steel.

Working with metallurgists for almost ten years to help perfect his disposable razor blade concept, Gillette and his business associates developed the technology to rapidly produce the razor blades and required handle. The Gillette Safety Razor Company sold 51 razors and 168 blades in its first year, 1903 : The following year those numbers jumped to 90,884 razors and 123,648 blades. By 1915, Gillette was selling 70 million razor blades worldwide. Gillette later supplied World War I servicemen with a shaving kit consisting of a razor and razor blades.

In the late 1920s, Gillette was known as a frequent guest of Nellie Coffman, proprietor of the Desert Inn in Palm Springs, CA. After he lost his fortune early in the Great Depression. he was often seen wandering about the grounds and lobby in a tattered old bathrobe. When Coffman was asked why she allowed such a lowlife to hang out at her establishment, she responded, “Why that is King C. Gillette. He has practically kept this place in the black the last few years.”

Gillette passed away on July 9th, 1932.

Gillette was raised in Adelphi Lodge in Quincy, Massachusetts in June of 1901 and later affiliated with Columbian Lodge in Boston.



Masonic engraved Razor Kit, early 20th century
©Scottish Rite Museum and Library

Written by Wor. Bro. Ronald J. Seifried, DSA
Trustee Chairman and Historian, Jephtha Lodge No. 494 F. & A.M.
Area 1 Historian, Nassau and Suffolk Masonic Districts
Co-Editor, Craftsmen Online NY Masonic History column
32° Scottish Rite,  Valley of Rockville Centre
Companion of Asharokan Chapter No. 288, Royal Arch Masons
Member of Suffolk Council No. 76, Cryptic Masons
Author, “Long Island Freemasons,” Arcadia Publishing, 2020

Content is property of Craftsmen Online and cannot be used, copied, or quoted in any manner without the express, written permission of Craftsmen Online.