• FA-122352 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Everyday Life
Household Technology
Everyday Life - directions for use
1930 - 1939
  • Dr. Roswitha Muttenthaler

Electric wet shaver "Sirama" with flashlight battery, 1933

Wet or dry? This question only arose after the invention of the new electric shaving heads in 1930. The electric wet-shaver was an intermediate step on the way to modern-day shavers.

From 1900 onwards, self-shaving replaced the affordable visit to the barber. This was preceded by the development of the safety razor. Additionally, a swinging blade razor was invented: a roller moving across the skin moved the blade to and fro. King Camp Gilette used this drive roller in his wet-shaver, which he patented in 1901. It was the first one to use double-edged razor blades.

From 1925 onwards, the roller mechanics were replaced by an electric drive which moved about the razor blades. The electric motor had reached a level of development which was sufficient for it being put to various uses within the household. It required no maintenance and was small enough to be manageably integrated into a small casing.

The Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum) has the "Sirama" model on exhibit, which was manufactured by Siemens between 1932 – 1939. Although it remained a luxury item, it was the most successful electric wet-shaver on the German market. The name SI RA MA stands for SIemens RAsier MAschine. As electrical outlets were rarely found in bathrooms until the 1950s, the device was powered by a flashlight battery. The motor must be activated by means of a sudden rotation of the device along its longitudinal axis. The blade moves 100 times per second.

Lathering still remained necessary until the market introduction of the electric dry shaver from 1930 onwards. Technically mature and more affordable dry shavers hit the market after 1945. As a result of the electrification of the bathrooms during the 1950s and 1960s, dry shaving became increasingly popular. In spite of being less thorough, it stood for convenience, progressiveness and sophistication. In the 1970s, the demand for dry shavers decreased again significantly due to improved razor blades and disposable razors being introduced to the market.

Inv.Nr. 7303/1
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