“Problem solving with American ingenuity” is seen in more than 50 intricately crafted working scale, one-of-a-kind models of inventions that were submitted to the U. S. Patent Office from the 1880s through the early 1900s. Intriguing to viewers of all ages ─ gadget and invention buffs to everyday folks ─ the patents for the proposed inventions are now a permanent part of our culture from the first patented rocking chair and fold-out bed to a burglar alarm! The exhibition is on view through the 2011 holiday season.
America’s manufacturing success is primarily due to the dreams and inventions of its many citizens. Few people realize that from the time George Washington formed the U.S. Patent Office in 1790, and throughout the American Industrial Revolution, inventors were required to submit a working, scale model of their inventions, when applying for a patent. The patent they sought was a limited property right that the government offered in exchange for the inventor’s agreement to share the details of his invention with the public.
The Rothschild Collection is the world’s largest gathering of viewable U.S. Patent Models. Fascinating, these original artifacts range from intricately crafted miniature weaving looms, motors, and bridges to common household items such as washing machines, vehicles, mechanical toys, caskets, and swing sets. Only one model exists for each invention, complete with its hand-written original tag. The Curious World of Patents includes patent models children and adults enjoy household, agricultural, medical, toys, musical instruments, and tools.
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, 12 more at the Hudson River Museum. A selection of Eickemeyer’s inventions will compliment The Curious World of Patent Models.
Courtesy of the Rothschild Patent Model Collection. Tour management by Smith Kramer Fine Arts.
Museum Programs Inspired by the exhibition The Curious World of Patents
All programs Free with Museum admission.
Sunday, November 13 1 pm
Gallery Tour: The Curious World of Patent Models
One-of-a-kind patent models reflect 19th- century innovations that changed how Americans live their lives. Join a Museum Educator to discuss these proposed inventions for home, recreation and transportation that impact our lives today.
Sunday, November 20 2:30 pm
Inventive Vision: The Optical Creations of Al Nagler
World-renowned optical engineer Al Nagler has an asteroid named for him, 10715 Nagler. He tells how his technology career enabled him to invent wide-field eyepieces and compact refractors of unparalled quality, for which he hold several patents, just like the inventors in the Museum’s exhibition The Curious World of Patents.
Science Sunday has been made possible by a gift from Domino Sugar.
Sunday, November 20 1 – 4 pm
Build a Marshmallow Launcher
Families design, build, and test an original marshmallow launcher in this drop-in workshop. Everyday household materials are used to propel the marshmallows. Distance and accuracy are important. Who knows? Perhaps your invention will take marshmallows to new heights!
Sheryl Goldberg has been encouraging creative thinking and problem solving for over 30 years. She is a middle school enrichment specialist, science teacher, and Destination ImagiNation coordinator as well as an adjunct professor at the College of New Rochelle, where she works with aspiring teachers.
This program is made possible, in part, by Cablevision.
Museum holiday closings:
Thursday, November 24; Sunday, December 25; Sunday, January 1.