Museum of Science and History: Curious World of Patents

September 22, 2012 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

MOSH's exhibit on historical patent models will be on display for one more week. In this article we take a look at a few of the items in the exhibit.

The Museum of Science and History is running its last week of The Curious World of Patent Models, an exhibit that delves into the short-lived period of time when patent models were a necessity for anyone who wanted their invention secured.

Because of the enormous amount of change in manufacturing and commerce during the Industrial Revolution, Thomas Jefferson formed the US Patent Office and required inventors to submit a working model, usually not larger than 12 inches, of their creation when applying for a patent -- thus the name "patent models."

The rare models are a special addition to MOSH because after The Patent Act, inventors were no longer required to submit a tangible design when applying for a patent, yet the museum temporarily holds some of the original US models that date anywhere from the 1850s to the early 1900s.  

The patent models range from domestic improvements to technical advances and each are accompanied by a hand-written tag featuring the name of the inventor and creation, the patent number and date it was accepted.  In addition, the items are paired with a short, typed copy of the descriptions originally written from the inventors themselves.

Improved Washing Machines -- Patented Aug 9, 1870
by Charles H. DeKnight, Pittsburgh, PA

“The nature of my invention consists in an arrangement of a rubbing-disk within a wash-tub, the lower surface of the said disk, and the upper surface of the bottom of the tub, being provided with a series of curved rubbing strips, said disk being pivoted to a hollow vertical shaft, in which imparts a downward pressure to the rubbing disk, which has a rotating reciprocating motion given to it through the medium of said hollow vertical shaft, driven by suitable driving gear.”

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