Wright Brothers’ Flying Machine Patent, missing from the National Archives
December 17 is a bittersweet anniversary at the National Archives. While it’s the date of the Wright Brother’s historic first flight in 1903, it’s also a reminder of the threat that archives, libraries, museums and other cultural institutions face on a daily basis. The patent for the Wright Flyer is missing—presumed stolen—last seen in 1979, and it’s not the only item missing.
When such records are stolen our shared history is lost and our ability to maintain accountability in our government is lessened. With your help, we can return our cultural heritage to its rightful place.
How you can help:
Patent Drawing for E. Berliner’s Gramophone, 11/08/1887
While this drawing shows one of Emile Berliner’s early cylinder-style Gramophones (a format first patented by Thomas Edison), he would go on to develop the well known disc format record that would eventually replace cylinder recordings.
Need a Halloween costume for your pet chicken? Jackson’s patented Eye Protector could be a good start.
Patent of the Month
The National Archives contains many archival gems. To share some of my favorites, I am starting a new feature for the blog, Patent of the Month.
Read the full post on the AOTUS blog.
Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin Patent Drawing
Designed to separate cotton fiber from seed, Whitney’s cotton gin, for which he applied for a patent on October 28, 1793, and received a patent on March 14, 1794, introduced a new, profitable technology to agricultural production in America, but also led to an increased dependence on the plantation system and slavery.
Need a knock ‘em dead prop for your haunted house? Try Eisenbrant’s spring loaded “Life-Preserving Coffin!”
"Life-Preserving Coffin, In Doubtful Cases of Actual Death"
Drawing for a Life-Preserving Coffin, 11/15/1843
The fear of being buried alive led Christian Henry Eisenbrandt to patent a “life-preserving coffin in doubtful cases of actual death.” In his application, he claimed that through a series of springs and levers, even the slightest motion of the head or hand would instantaneously open the coffin lid.
(Also fun at parties)
#FirstWorldProblems - Polishing safety deposit boxes
On September 8, 1903, Emil A. Strauss was granted a patent for his improvement on the safety deposit box. According to his application, until his invention, the entire safety deposit box had to be removed in order to polish it, which meant the owner had to be present. He states that his invention allows for “boxes with removable fronts, so that they may be polished … without disturbing the renters.”
Patent Drawing for E. D. Bean’s Shooting Jacket, 07/19/1892
Sarah P. Mather’s Submarine Telescope, 07/05/1864
From the Patent and Trademark Office series: Utility Patent Drawings, 1837 - 1911
An improvement over a prior patent she submitted in the 1840s, Sarah Mather’s Submarine Telescope is one of the earliest scientific instruments credited to a female inventor.
And don’t forget to check out our #Patent tag for more American originals!