While doom-strolling through the halls of Reddit recently, we stumbled upon a mysterious vintage bathroom feature and a homeowner looking for answers. At first glance, the fixture in question appears to be a small recessed storage cupboard, but take a peek inside and its mirrored doors reveal a more specific purpose. Spoiler: This time, the answer has nothing to do with old razor blades hiding in walls.
Looking at the tidy impressions inside of the unit, it's easy to imagine that one was meant for holding a bar of soap and the other was for a cup. But what are those oxidized slots doing at the top of the compartment? The original poster, @ACrosegurl772, noted that the fixture was found in a midcentury home and is presumably from the '50s, although they weren't sure if the bathroom had ever been updated. Each one of the four slots is around a quarter of an inch wide, making them too small to hold much of anything these days.
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While guesses ranged from hidden ashtrays to razor storage, and included a spirited debate on whether or not one should spit and rinse after brushing their teeth, in the end, a few super sleuths cracked the case. The slots were meant to hold a family of toothbrushes, neatly tucking them out of sight and away from germs, although we'd recommend that the homeowner give the cubby a thorough cleaning before putting it to good use.
Reddit user @ClemintineCoda explained the mechanics of the cabinet and its likely purpose:
"Toothbrushes or razors, both of which had much skinnier handles than they do today, would be inserted handle first, leaving the bristles or razor ends suspended, swiveling in for storage and protection."
Even with decades of toothpaste residue confirming Reddit's hypothesis, we still had a few lingering questions and more internet rabbit holes to fall down. Because while we've seen our share of elaborate vintage fixtures, a swiveling chrome hygiene cubby seems exceptionally extra. How many Space Age bathroom cabinets of curiosity were just waiting to be discovered? What can four toothbrush slots tell us about the evolution of the American bathroom?
Enter the 1959 Hall-Mack product catalog. Hall-Mack, a purveyor of extravagant midcentury bathroom accessories, advertised a "lifetime of brilliance, beauty, and service in your bathroom."
Their unique lines, with names like Aristicrome and Coronado, featured recessed "relaxation units," concealed "lavatory units," and a highly collectible bathroom scale designed to fold into the wall. The 1950 Hollywood Vanity model even featured a razor slot to send your used blades to their final resting place inside of the bathroom wall.
While we haven't been able to confirm if our mystery cabinet is a Hall-Mack original, its clever nod to both hygiene and luxury embodies the post-war glow-up of the American bathroom from outhouse to self-care oasis.