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2000/129/1 Portable razor and case, Philishave, battery powered, plastic/metal, designed by Alexandre Horowitz, made by Philips, Holland, 1963. Click to enlarge.

Portable razor and case, Philishave, battery powered, plastic/metal, designed by Alexandre Horowitz, made by Philips, Holland, 1963

Made by Philips Industries Limited in Netherlands, Europe, 1963.

The Philips ‘Philishave’ electric razor was launched in the Netherlands (Holland) in 1939. Between 1939 and 1966, ‘Philishaves’ had single or twin (‘floating’) heads. The triple head (model SC8130) was first manufactured in Germany in 1966. In 1963, Philips introduced the first razor with built-in batteries. This ‘Philishave’ was also known as the ‘Penguin’, the shape of the web-footed, flightless, aquatic bird influencing the design decisions for this product. ‘Philishave’ razors used rotary cu...


Object No.


Object Statement

Portable razor and case, Philishave, battery powered, plastic/metal, designed by Alexandre Horowitz, made by Philips, Holland, 1963

Physical Description

Portable razor and case, Philishave, battery powered, plastic/metal, designed by Alexandre Horowitz, made by Philips, Holland, 1963

Hand-held razor of white, beige and clear plastic operated by built-in batteries.

Razor is rectangular shaped tapering at one end. The razor has a white body with a beige removable battery assembly cover. Four batteries are needed to operate the razor. The inside of the battery cover and the body are lined with foam. The twin-rotary cutting head has a red push button release located in the upper centre of the body to allow for cleaning and replacement of the blades. A clear plastic lid sits over the cutting head.

The case is of dark blue vinyl with a zip and red felt trim. A mirror is located in the inside of the lid and is hidden behind a pull-down panel of red felt.

The maker's trademark and name is located at the base of the razor. The product name is located on the front of the razor and inside the case.



The 'Penguin' style 'Philishave' was designed by Alexandre Horowitz (1904-1982). He was born in Antwerp (Belgium) to parents of Russian Jewish heritage. Horowitz was born into a family of merchant traders. His father was a businessman who exchanged diamonds. Antwerp was an important trading centre for these minerals at the time of Alexandre's birth. The German occupation of Belgium during World War 1 (1914), forced the Horowitz family to flee to the Netherlands.

Horowitz attended the University of Technology, Delft, (Technische Universitett, Delft, est. 1842) where he majored in mechanical and electrical engineering, graduating in 1927. Horowitz joined Philips in 1929, starting his research career in the radio factory, and in the field of radio Horowitz is perhaps best remembered for his interference-free band selector switch, which was used on Philips' radios through the 1950s. The 'Horowitz switch' was characterised by using silver for the contacts and Philips' marketing executives created the slogan "Philips puts silver in their radios", which helped make their radios a successful product.

The company experienced difficulties during the Great Depression, and by the end of that decade they had restructured, while product diversification became an important feature of the firms managerial ethos. Electric razors were one product that exemplified Philips' diversification in product design and manufacture. Simultaneously, Philips applied patents to protect their innovations.

Philips' first electric 'Philishave' razors (models 7730/6 and 7735) were launched in 1939, and during the 1940s and 1950s research and development was given top priority by management. For a short period, Horowitz flourished in this intellectual environment. However, he resigned from Philips in 1948, and joined Polynorm, a Dutch firm that specialised in the design of prefabricated steel structural components for houses. On the other hand, Horowitz's commercial woes grew, when the engineering firm that he founded in 1950, experienced financial difficulties as a result of product failure. The firm most likely survived the 1950s with the success of the 'acoustical ceiling', an idea that was developed by Horowitz and installed in the Netherlands' first road tunnel.

Horowitz's academic career began in 1958, when he joined the Eindhoven University of Technology (est. 1956), as Professor of Product Design and Mechanical Construction. At the University, Horowitz developed his views on the 'creative process and product design'. He believed that the creative process consisted of three essential 'ingredients': perception (the gift of observation); conception (the idea); and construction (realization). All products had each of these 'ingredients' embedded in them, and it was the job of the engineer to overlay perception, conception, and construction with 'imagination' and 'creativity'. Unfortunately, Horowitz is a little vague on meaning, but the general idea can be discerned easily enough.

Horowitz continued work with Philips as their promotions and technical advisor, especially for the 'Philishave' razor. He was also involved in the development of programmes for agricultural machinery at the University of Bandung (Institut Teknologi, Bandung, est. 1920) and the University of Bogor (Institut Pertanian, Bogor, est. 1963) in Indonesia. In 1974, he retired from the Eindhoven University of Technology. He was awarded 136 patents over a period of 50 years for a wide variety of products including farm machinery, a Philips lawnmower, a many-speed gear box, radio components, oil industry equipment, a cotton-swab machine, and his most famous and successful invention the 'Philishave' electric razor (Information has been gratefully received from Philips (Netherlands), The University of Technology [Delft], and Eindhoven University of Technology).

Philips and Co., was founded by three brothers on 15 May 1891. Benjamin Frederick David Philips (1830-1900), Gerard Leonard Frederick Philips (1858-1942), and (later) Anton Frederick Philips (1874-1951), were founding partners of the firm. The original objective of the firm was "manufacturing incandescent lamps and other electrical articles, and engaging in trade in the same"(Heerding, A. [1985]. The History of N.V. Philips' Gloeilampenfabrieken: The Origin of the Dutch Incandescent Lamp Industry, Vol. 1. C.U.P. p.37). Benjamin was a tobacco and coffee merchant, industrialist and banker, Gerard was a mechanical engineer, and Anton a banker and merchant.

Operations began in a small factory in Eindhoven (The Netherlands). However, during the first decade of operations the company suffered heavy financial losses but a decision to sell the firm was withdrawn after a potential buyer offered too low a price for the firm. The insecure commercial footing of the firm during its early years of operation, provided Anton, the youngest and most financially adept brother, with an incentive to join the firm in 1895. Prior to joining Philips, Anton worked in London as a financial broker, and this provided him with the skill and experience required to lift the firm from the economic difficulties that it was experiencing during those early years. By the turn of the century, Philips was flourishing economically and commercially with a constant range of new and innovative products emerging from the drawing boards of the design engineers. At this time the firm was at the forefront of developments in tungsten, filament, and incandescent lamps. By 1912 Philips and Company had changed its name and was known as N.V. Philips Gloeilampenfabrieken, with a listing on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.

The Philips Research Laboratories were established in 1914 with the engineer-physicist Gilles Holst in charge. The neutrality of the Netherlands during World War 1 meant that Philips was not subjected to the demands of the conflict and thus could pursue their industrial research work at a high level.

After the War, Philips expanded its overseas markets significantly, especially in China, Brazil, and Australia. In 1920, a holding company N.V. Gemeenschappelijk Benzit van Aandeelen Philips Gloeilampenfabriken (simply known as N.V. Benzit) was formed and assumed ownership of the firm. Shortly thereafter, Gerard retired (1923) and Anton became company chairman. This was a period when Philips began to manufacture their radio sets, displaying their first model at the Utrecht Trade Fair in September 1927. A significant change in management and production strategies was introduced at this stage and could be evidenced by the range of complete products on display in Utrecht (electrical components only being emphasised beforehand).

The global economic downturn during the early 1930s considerably dampened the company's research activities, product development, and sales. An undesirable increase in unemployment followed, with management restructures and worker layoffs imposed as a common strategy. Nevertheless, Philips continued with their ethos of product diversification and when economic and social conditions returned with some semblance of stability, a range of products (gas-discharge lamps, X-ray equipment, car radios and electric razors) were released. The economic downturn of the early 1930s forced many governments to introduce trade barriers in an attempt to protect domestic industries from foreign competition. Philips found that government protectionist policies harmed its reputation as a reliable supplier of products (from Eindhoven) to its overseas markets. In order to overcome these difficulties, Philips established production facilities around the world.

Anton Philips retired in 1939 as company president and his son-in-law Frans Otten, and his son Frits Philips, were established as president and company director respectively. The rise of Nazism in Europe forced management to flee to England and America. The North American Philips Corporation (NAPC) was established in 1940, and it was this firm that managed Philips' operations, which were established in non-occupied countries. Philips' factories were destroyed as a result of Nazis and Allied bombing.

After the Second World War, Philips again began to rebuilt its research and production activities throughout the world. However, in order to achieve success Philips changed direction. Some change was viewed as unpalatable. Notable aspects of the firms recent activities include: the closure of about one quarter of the firms European factories in 1982 as a result of the policies of president Wisse Dekker; massive flooding of world markets by cheap Japanese made electronic consumables; acquisitions and joint ventures to enhance the firms most profitable product line (the purchase of the lighting business of American Westinghouse; 25% of Grundig, one of the largest German consumer-electronics firms); and the move to new areas including solid-state lasers, microelectronics, laser-vision optical disc technology, compact discs, and optical telecommunications systems.

(On the base of the razor, there are the following marks: Manufacturer Philips; Made in Holland; 6V (DC only); Serial No. 42414720. Inside the lid of the zip case there appears 'Philishave').

The Philips Shield.

Philips products are readily identified by the famous company trademark, which consists of a shield, the word 'Philips' inscribed across its top, and a circle below in which typically there are four stars and three wave-like lines.

The wavy lines and stars represent radio waves passing through the aether. These were first used in 1925 as decoration on stationery, in advertising, on promotional materials, and in packaging for the 'Miniwatt' radio valve. The number of stars used during this early period varied, from a single star spangle, a combination of two, and a blanket coverage of up to 12. The now familiar four star spangle and three wavy lines contained within a circle (representing the circular opening of a loudspeaker) was introduced in 1930. Interestingly, the multinational chemical firm Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) also used a similar circular trademark thus ruling against the registration of the trademark with a circle (by Philips).

The world renown trademark (the shield emblem) was established in 1938. The trademark has been (and is) used globally to identify Philips products (Information courtesy of Koninkliike Philips Electronics N.V.).

Date of manufacture of razor


Philips Industries Limited 1963



No exchange recorded.


Credit Line

Source unknown

Acquisition Date

28 November 2000

Cite this Object


Portable razor and case, Philishave, battery powered, plastic/metal, designed by Alexandre Horowitz, made by Philips, Holland, 1963 2016, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 21 January 2019, <>


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