The Great War – which gave us such things as the ComfyKit,1 the smooth shaven soldier, and body shaming the ladies – ended in November 1918. Interestingly enough, that almost immediately prompted a change in how razors were marketed. As an example, I have two advertisements for the GEM khaki kit for you today. One from 1918, and one from 1919.

The two GEM Khaki Kit advertisements did share a lot of the same elements. To me it seems pretty clear that the newer of the two was mostly an update of the older one.

1918 advertisement for the GEM Military No7

In 1918 the war was still on. You had US, French, and British troops on the top, with the two former reaching out to shake hands. The text Stressed that not only was the US government supplying the GEM Khaki Kit to the US Army and Navy, but it was – the text claims – used under every allied flag. Just one dollar for the set, complete with seven dust-and-rust proof blades packed in wax paper.

1919 advertisement for the GEM Military No7

The world was a different place in 1919. The War To End All Wars2 was over, the Spanish Flu was ravaging the world, and the advertisement for the GEM Khaki Kit was definitely a bit less focused on allies working together. While they still had a French poilu, recognisable by the Adrian helmet and the long Rosalie bayonet, all the other figures now look like American doughboys. Gone was the text about allied flags, replaced by an extolment of American values in general and the GEM blade in particular.

Also gone was the split pricing. In 1919 the price was a dollar for a complete kit, without saying of complete meant that it came with a mirror or not. I’m inclined to think not, since the drawing of the GEM Khaki kit didn’t include a mirror in 1919, even if it did in 1918.

I find it interesting that two so similar advertisements can be so different both in tone and content. Hopefully you found it interesting too.


  1. I still want one of these – they look great!

  2. That belief didn’t quite work out though…

  • waldenMA
    link
    23 months ago

    I think I see some fine print about adding a mirror in the second ad.

    I’ve never heard of a stropping handle before… Neat!