Meet the man who invented the first adjustable mirror for barbershops

Samuel Raymond Scottron/photo credit: Wikipedia and Poles Direct

Before the Civil War, Samuel Raymond Scottron’s father was a barber and a baggage master on a boat that ferried from the Hudson River to New York City and Albany. When the war began, it became imperative for his father to join the Third U.S. Colored Infantry, a black regiment stationed at Morris Island, South Carolina.

Scottron opted to represent his father on the Black regiment in 1863, as reported by the Campbell House Museum. After serving his term in the war, he moved to Fernandina, FL, where he was actively involved in the first general election that permitted the new freedmen to exercise their voting rights in 1864.

In 1865, Scottron had the opportunity to represent his constituents in the National Colored Convention organized in Syracuse, NY. He operated a chain of grocery stores in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Lakeville, Tallahassee, and Palatka, FL. When the business was not doing too well, he decided to relocate to the North.

In Springfield, MA where he later settled, he decided to open a barbershop with the hope his fortunes would take a better turn. While plying his trade as a barber, he noticed that his customers had a challenge in their attempt to have a full view of the sides, rear and top of their heads in the hand-held mirrors.

This gave birth to his adjustable mirror invention which enabled customers to have the full view of their heads while barbering. He patented this invention on March 31, 1868, under patent number 76253, and called it the Scottron Adjustable Mirror. The mirrors were positioned opposite each other to enable people to take a look at every side of their heads while being barbered.

He is reported to have stated that the objective of his invention was to enable people to see themselves as others would while in the barbering salon. Scottron’s name became synonymous with his adjustable mirror and as its popularity grew, it featured strongly in all his biographical accounts. Even though it was popular on the market in the late 1800s, it is conspicuously missing in stores in recent times.

Scottron was born in February 1841 in Philadelphia to Samuel J. Scottron and Jane Maria Robinson. He was their second son. Though his formative years were spent in Philadelphia, the family relocated to New York in 1849 and to Brooklyn, NY in 1852.

Scottron had five other inventions to his name, which were the adjustable window cornice, Pole tip, Curtain rod, Cornice and Supporting bracket. They were all patented between 1880 and 1893.

Scottron passed away on October 14, 1908, in Brooklyn, New York.

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: January 13, 2023


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