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Improvement in Artificial Legs,
Patent #37,282. January 6, 1882.
Inventors: Theodore Engelbrecht, Reinhold Boeklen and William Staehlen, Brooklyn, New York

Fifty-eight fascinating original patent models are on view at the Hudson River Museum, from intricately crafted miniature washing machines, motors, and door locks to candy molds, mechanical toys, caskets, and swing sets. Only one model exists for each invention and attached to it is a handwritten original tag from its inventor that explains how the product can improve society. The language of the inventors foreshadows our own era’s hopes and plans for today’s innovations in genetic engineering, cutting-edge pharmaceuticals, and nanotechnology. The United States grows and develops because of the dreams and ingenuity of its men and women who work in new ways to solve the problems secret codes, invention propels change. A patent, the limited right granted by the government to inventors to hold title to the products they devise, if they share its details for the public good, became the way to organize and protect inventors and inventions. American president George Washington formed the U.S. Patent Office in 1790 and for nearly 100 years, inventors, be they engineers, scientists, farmers, housewives, or artists, were required to submit working scale models of their inventions, when applying for the patents they craved. The Patent Office retained all the official models and as early as 1810, in Washington DC, you could see its growing collection. By 1880, when the Office abandoned the requirement for three-dimensional model submissions, there were 299,000 models. By the early 20th century, the miniature replicas of the inventions languished in storage crates, slated for eventual sale. Some went to the Smithsonian Institution, others returned to inventors’ families. Still others became part of the Rothschild Patent Model Collection that we see at the Museum this fall. When United States manufacturing mushroomed in the last century, Yonkers was home to resourceful inventors, among them Leo Baekeland, who made the first plastic, and radio pioneer Edwin Howard Armstrong. However Yonkers’ Rudolf Eickemeyer, Sr., is probably king, and 28 models he made for hat manufacture are at the Smithsonian Institution, and 12 more at the Hudson River Museum. A selection of Eickemeyer’s inventions complement The Curious World of Patent Models.

The exhibition is courtesy of the Rothschild Patent Model Collection. Tour Management by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services, Kansas City, Missouri




Center, Improvement in Electro-Magnetic Motors. Patent #156,920 , November 17, 1874. Inventor: Charles J. B. Gaume, Brooklyn, New York

From left, Improvement in Stills for the Manufacture of Alcoholic Spirits. Patent #165,201 , July 6, 1875. Inventors: John H. & Joseph B. Beam, Bardstown, Kentucky

Improved Folding Desk. Patent #101,118 , March 22, 1870. Inventors: Ernst W. Gilles & Jules Wendell, Oswego, New York

Improvement in Paper Cutting Machines. Patent #198,519 , December 25, 1877 Inventor: John G. Morgan, Appleton, Wisconsin

Improvement in Swings. Patent #109,165 November 8, 1870. Inventor: Lucius Winston, Pontiac, Illinois

Improvement in Fire Arms (Breech-Loading Cannon). Patent #30,045, September 18, 1860. Inventor: Charles F. Brown, Warren, Rhode Island

Improved Washing Machine. Patent
#106,137 , August 9, 1870. Inventor:
Charles H. DeKnight, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



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