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Report of the Commissioner of Patents for the year .. online

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country throngh more than six hnndred inventions for which patents have been
issued. It is by no means asserted that all these inventions have been found
practically useful; but perhaps no other art can so well illustrate how, in
mechanical contrivances, idea begets idea, and the invention of yesterday gives
birth to the invention of to-morrow.

The apparent insignificance of an invention is no measure of its value. In-
ventions in the meanest of household arts,,such as improvements in washing and
wringing machines, have not only contributed most materially to domestic com-
fort, out have given rise to single manufacturing establishments employing orer
half a million of dollars of capital. Improvements in articles so trivial as nooloi
and eyes, and pins for infants' clothing, have been the foundation of patents whi<A
have produced tens of thousands of dollars.

The application, in a manner to be hereafter described, of a pencil mark in
submarine blasting, and the explosion of military mines by the electric current,
enables the operator to dispense with cumbersome and costly batteries and ma-
chinery formerly indispensable. A spring for holding the deflector and chimney
upon a coal-oil lamp, consisting simply of a bent strip of brass, has gone into
universal use, and through a tariff of a few mills upon each lamp to which the
invention is applied, has yielded several hundred thousand dollars to the inventor.
The more minutely the arts are studied, the more will the conviction be forced
upon the mind that, as the distinction between great and small appears to be on-
reco^ized by Providence, the distinction between important and trivial, and
useful and worthless, should never be applied to any original work of human

This is the doctrine of Sir Pavid Brewster, who believed that "patents should
be granted for every new idea, whatever that idea might be ; that every encomv
agement should be given to persons to bring forward such ideas ; and that instead
of throwing difficulties in their way, even when the ideas appear to be frivolous,
every facility should be given for their development, because they may contain
the germ of future inventions. They may contain ideas which will suggest
others more useful and practical ; and what is a simple and amusing experiment
in one age, may become a great invention in another."


I proceed next to a review of the progress of the arts in this country within
the last one or two years, as exhibited in the different classes of inventions which
have been the suljects of examination during this period. For minute informa-
tion reference must be had to the carefully prepared brief descriptions of all tfat
patented inventions, with the claims of each patent for the present year, and iim
admirably executed plates of drawings which accompany this report.

I am withheld, for obvious reasons, from giving the names of particular in-
ventors even when they may have exhibited extraordinary merit, and shall
attempt only such a general sketch as may indicate the direction which the in-
dustry of the country has taken, and may be suggestive to ingenious minds of ,
the fields of invention in which there is tho most promise of reward for explora-
tion and discovery.

Upon assuming the head of this office, I found the classification of inventions,
by means of which the work of examination was distributed into distinct depart-
ments, and the vast collections of drawings and models arranged for ready refef-
ence, defective in philosophical arrangement, while the development of new
branches of industry exhibited the n^ of forming new classes ; I th^!ef<»f
prepared a new classification of the suWects of invention, which was published
tor the guidance of the office, and for uu^ilitating inventors and agents in their
reference to drawings and models.

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In tfie fiketch which I propose now to present I shall follow the order of
dassification then adopted. It is needless to remark, that in preparing this
rF?iew I have availed myself of the talent and industry in the omce which ihe
law has placed at my command.



scvmoK I. — niFiraBm and XAOHnvu roa wobkino thb ioil, lownio ahd piAHTiiia.


The most striking fact connected with this class is the rapid increase of appV-
eations filed. Notwithstanding half a million of oar agriculturists have been with-
drawn firom the farm to engage in military servicd still the number of applications
for patents on agricultural implements, (exclusive of reapers, beehives, horse
bay-forks, and horse hay-rakes,) has increased from three nundred and fifty in
1861, to five hundred and two. in 1863. At first thought such a result would
seem an anomaly, but it is this large drain upon the laboring classes which has
caused a greater demand than usual for labor-saving machinery. The increased
demand for farm products, and their higher price in consequence, have also
doubtless helped to increase the number of labor-saving machines : first, by
stimulating agriculturists to increase the quantity of theii* products while they
oould obtain for them these higher rates ; and secondly, by rendering them more
able to purchaBe such machines.

As a general thing, the inventions in this class have consisted in improve-
nwnts upon existing implements, with the object of rendering them more perfect
In their operation and more elegant in appearance ; and it is gratifying to notice
the degree of perfection attained in the more prominent farm implements of the
day. Machines for sowing and planting seed are the most numerous in this
class, and they have been brought to such a state of perfection that one can
now be supplied with those which will plant everything, from a mustard seed to
a potato, either by hand or animal power, and at prices varpng from one hun-
dred dollars down to two dollars and fifty cents. In these machines and imple-
ments attention has been turned, of late, more to the details, such as inventing
improved methods and devices for disti-ibuting evenly and without crushing the
aeed ; also in providing machines with indexes for regulating and indicating the
quantity sown per acre ; in devices for converting them, at pleasure, from drill to
hroadcast sowers, and vice versa ; and in improvements by which the tubes or
teeth are prevented from being broken or injured by roots, stones, &c.

Much attention has' also been given in this class to machines for sowing
wheat, oats, &;c., which are attached to the body of the operator, worked by a
crank, and distributing the seed broadcast by centrifugal force. Next in num-
ber and importance are cultivatoi*s, which appear to have assumed almost every
conceivable form and style. The most noticeable feature in connexion with
them is the making of them tall, and so constructing the frame that they may
readily pass over com from four to six feet high, and in so arranging and pivot-
ing the shares that they may be readily controlled in their movements, and en-
able the operator to adapt their movements to the irregularity of the plants in
the row. This feature, as might be expected, emanates from the west, where
the hioe is but little u^^ed in the culture of this plant.

In ploughs there has been less improvement, the form of the mould-board,
wUdk is the main feature, having apparently been brought to a satisfactory con-
AUkm. Of late more attention has been given to arranging the plough in con-
BCtiion with a frame moimted on wheels, whereby the ploughman can " both
Udaod drive" while sitting securely upon his seat; also in arranging two or
Boce ploughs in a gang, whereby one man can operate two ploughs and teams
m toadily as one, thus saving the time and labor of one man.

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In steam ploughs considerable has also been done, mostly, however, in the
form of rotating, digging, or spading machines. The demand for increased fa-
cilities for raising grain, together with the destruction by war, and consequent
scarcity and high price of animals for farm labor, renders this, at present, a most
inviting field for inventors, ' ^

Machines for threshing and cleaning grain have received a large share of at-
tention, and have been rendered so complete that the grain is now threshed, cleaned,
measured and bagged, and the straw stacked, at one operation. Improvements
have also been made in the machines bywhich the dust is taken up and .con-
veyed away, and also by which the bands are cut and the sheaves fed into the
thresher. Connected with these is a class of machines of recent origin, by
widch clover is threshed, separated from the straw, hulled and cleaned, at one

In grain separators great improvements have also been made, whereby oats
and foul stuflf are more readily and thoroughly separated from the wheat, thereby
furnishing a better article for seed, and adding greatly to the market value of
the wheat crop.

Dairy implements, especially for the manufacture of cheese and the working
of butter, have been much improved. In chums nothing of special importance
has been developed, this class generally exhibiting in its improvements more of
ingenuity than of utility.

Consiaerable improvements have also Jbeen made in a large number of miscel-
laneous implements connected with agriculture, such as manure distributors,
fruit-gatherers, cow-milkers, field-rollers, cattle and sheep racks, farm and fruit
ladders, egg-hatching machines, and machines for manufacturing cigars and to-
bacco in fidl its varieties, potato-diggers, straw and vegetable cutters, stone-gath-
erers, bog-cutters for smoothing rough meadow land and adapting it to the use
of the mower, boxes and baskets for packing and conveying fruit to market,
&c., Sec. Indeed, throughout this entire class there appears to be an increased
activity in the effort to substitute labor-saving machinery for manual labor, and«
judging from appearances, with most beneficial results.


The improvements in this class of machines during the year have been
chiefly in details of construction, looking rather to the simplifying and the per-
fecting of the operation of such as are most approved and in common use, than
to any marked change in the principle of construction or operation of such

These improvements in details have been numerous, and are believed, in many
instances, to have had the intended effect, as is evidenced by the great increasfe
in the popularity of these machines with the agricultural community throughout
the country. The large number of reissues of important patents in this branch
also tends to show the increased importance which they have assumed, both in
a legal and in a commercial point of view. The number of these machines
manufactured during the year, as learned from reliable sources, is upwards of
40,000, while the number in process of manufacture, required for the harvest of
1864, is estimated at over 90,000 machines.


During the past year the improvements in flouring mills have been, for the
most pait; confined to the bolting apparatus, looking particularly to the quality
of the flour produced.

Machines for hulling rice have been considerably improved and perfected, so
that greater quantities can be hulled now, without breaking the grains, ina giv^i
time than formerly.

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The attention of agriculturists having been, by a necessity growing out of the
war, directed to the production of sugar cane, which has added millions already
' to our national wealth, there have been various in^>royement8 in sugar miUsy as
well as machines for crushing the cane.

Class B.
, Dmnoii I. — OALOBinos.

This class embraces the devices used in household economy for heating and
eooking, as well as some which, like grain-dryers, have a commercial character.

The progress of invention in the whole class is as positive now as at any
other time in the history of the Patent Office, although it has long been the
popular belief that the ground for improvement in one branch of it, the cooking
stove, was almost covered. ^

Of the three hundred applications in thi^ class in 1863, thirty-five were for
improvements in cooking stoves, and some of them are highly original and add
greatly to the e£fectivenes8 and economy of its operation.

Gas and petroleum stoves are getting to bo prominent subjects of invention.

The demands of commerce have called forth many improvements in grain-
dryers, the main object in view being to save time and labor in the process of dry-
ing the grain. Twenty-fi^e applications were made in this branch of the class
in 1863.
^ Very decided advances have been made in ventilators for railroad cars, the
aim having been to bring in an abundance of fresh air, deprived of its usual load
of dust and soot, without building costly and ciimbrous additions upon the car.

The exigencies of army life have given rise to many inventions in camp stoves
and utensils for cooking in the field. Some of these are ingenious and give
promise of becoming permanently useftil.

There is constant but not very marked progress in the art of heating build-
ings by means of hot-air furnaces and steam radiators. It is believed that the
best results, in a hygienic view, are obtained thus far by the use of steam as a
heating medium.

Wi^in the past five years increased attention has been given, both by the
poblic and by inventors, to that kind of coal stoves called " base-burning '' or " res-
ervoir " stoves, in which the fire-pot is kept supplied with fuel from a magazine
in the top of the stove. The starting point in this kind of stove was from a
patent obtained in this country in 1838 by an Englishman, Thomas Joyce. The
genius of American inventors has developed his embryonic attempt at a maga-
zine stove, until it has become a successful and practical automaton so far as fuel-
supply goes.

Considering the class as a whole, it is clear that although some of the inven-
tions included in the large variety belonging to it are ingenious rather than simple
and practical, yet by far the greater part are direct improvements in both sim-
plicity of construction and the manner of use, and they thus become aids to
economy both in money and labor; while of the whole number of applications a
largCT proportion, year by year, are successful, for the reason, chiefly, that old
devices are not so often re-invented as formerly.

Divisioir n. — PHoncs, lamps, mcLUDiNa lahtibks, oas, no.

The immense development of petroleum, commonly, but erroneously, called
«oal oil, beginning practically in August, 1858, in western Pennsylvania, and
amounting in the year 1863, in the United States, to 6,000 barrels per day, or
2490,000 barrels per annum, of which one-half is exported and the remainder
'Mnuuied at home, has directed American inventors, within the last three years,
t^lkeoDatmction of a large number of lamps intended specially for its con-

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sumption. JThis will best be seen by reference to the number of applications'
presented to this office daring the last three years as compared with the number
for the three next preceding ^ears.

Patents applied for during the year ending — .

March 1 st, 1869 44

" 1860 72

•« 1861 77

. 193

March Ist, 1862 130

1863 338

Dec. 30, 1863 155


This oil is rich in carbon and hydrogen, but void of oxygen; and from the excess
of carbon evolved, one main object to be attained was to command the oxygen
df the atmosphere to effect that degree of combustion most productive of illumi-
nation, and thus at once econbmize oil, obtain a p«re white flame, and avoid
smoke and unpleasant odor. To this end various devices have, within the last
three years, been patented.

1. The deflector previously in use h{is been materially altered in form, and in
some lamps, two or three deflectors within each other, used in throwing successive
currents of air against the flame above each other.

2. The flat wick has been very generally adopted, being more simple and
exposing a larger sur&ce of flame to the air.

3. The glass chimney previously in use, to shield the flame from currents
of air and to increase the draught and consequent quantity of oxygen to the flame,
has largelv maintained its place. In some models the chimney has been exj
tended below the flame, and shortened above it ; in others the deflector and
chimney have been united; and in others oval chimneys, either of glass or mica,
have been made to correspond with the flat flame.

4. The liability of glass chimneys to break from unequal heat, or acciient,
as well as their expense and general inconvenience, have made it a desideratum
to construct a good hand-lamp without a chimney, for which purpose many
patents have been granted, of very various forms, with more or lees success.
Some have used numerous very small wicks, othere very thin wicks; others have
made, in effect invented, metallic chimneys below the flame. To keep the oil
in the lamp as cool as possible, so as not to throw off more gas than the flame
can consume, various non-conductors have been interposed between the burner
and the reservoir, such as porcelain, glass, gypsum, wood, gutta percha, &c.
Other inventors have effected the same object by isolating, in a great measure,
the burner, by resting it on slight metallic points, &c In a few examples oxy-
gen has been ingeniously and effectively, but rather expensively, supplied to the
flame by a revolving fan- wheel propelled by machinery enclosed within the base
of the lamp.

6, Other .improvements have been introduced, removing the chimney verti-
cally, horizontally, or obliquely, so as conveniently to turn and light the lamp or
supply it with oil ; others effecting the same objects without removing the chim-
ney at all. Mica and glass deflectors have been used instead of metallic ones,
and glass cylinders surrounding the flame and below it, so as to avoid the shadow
around the base of the lamp.

6. The necessities and demands of our great railway system have originated
improvements in locomotive head-lights, ^ as to obviate Uie effect of the moti(Hi

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€f Ae engine and counteract strong currents of wind; also in lantern*, so as
to avoid extingnishment by sudden motions, vertically or laterally, and so that
the lamp may be easily fastened in or removed from the case and the wick reg-
ulated without removsJ therefrom.

7. Finally, great improvement has been made in the machinery for the manu-
fiiicture of every part of the lamp, so that for a few cents a good and couve*
nient and even elegant lamp for burning this cheap and highly valuable native
oil is now within the reach of every j6mily in the land.

Glass 0.


Notwithstanding the various improvements heretofore made in land carriages,
and the. conseauent perfection existing in that department, such have been the
improvements curing the year 1863, that much additional security and comfort
have been gained.

Particular attention is given to the matter of propelling carriages by
means of steam upon common roads, and a wide field is hero opened for the ii>-
ventive genius of the people ; and judging from the present state of this im-
provement, as well as the progress made in other branches of mechanics, it is
not improbable that in a £9^ years the talent now aroused to this important
interest will perfect some mechanism by means of which steam will be used
upon common roads, as well as it is now upon railways.

While there have been many impiyrvements in the branch of mechanical
engineering, comprising horse powers, presses, &c., they have chiefly related to
the simplifying and combining of former inventions in order to produce a
cheaper and more effective mechanism.

Classes D & E.


The scarcity of cotton in the northern States has attracted attention to the
preparation of fibre from flax, hemp, and other fibre-producing plants. Several
patents have been issued for cleaning and separating flax fibres, so as to pro-
ance a matierial to resemble cotton, and whicn can be spim on the ordinary
cotton-spinning machinery. The efforts in this direction, however, have been
only partially successful.

The preparation of paper pulp from wood, reeds and straw, has occupied
several inventors, and lliese have attained considerable success, so that the pro-
duction of paper stock from these materials is now an established manufacture.

The refining of petroleum is now a large and still increasing in lustry. The
inventions in this department relate principally to the construct! n of stills and
condensers. These are now constructed in such a manner us to make the
operation of distillation continuous, and so as to separate at one distillation the
various products which are derived from petroleum. A new manufacture has
grown up during the past year from the waste products or residuum of petroleunu
A valuable oil, to be used as a vehicle for paints, has been obtained from what
is known as the acid residuum ; and a lubricant is made from the tarry residuum
of the still. The proper treatment of these residuums is well worth the attention
of inventors.

The demands for the different products from petroleum have not kept pace
the (me with the other. The oil, of medium density, commonlv known as
ilfamunating oil, bears the highest price. ^ It is therefore desirable that inventors
almid direct their attention to the lighter oils, known as carbon spirits, or
. and to the very dense and thick products. To some extent the light

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products are now used by varnish makers and others as substitutes for spirits
of turpentine. The heary and thick oils containing paraffine and similar com-
pounds are used as lubricants. But a sufficient demand for these must be
created by the efforts of the inventors in finding new applications for them, or
new modes of transforming them into more useful products. A valuable appli-
cation of the heavy oils has been found in their use as a substitute for' ordinary
tanner's oil for dubbing ; thus supplying a much fek want.

A great number of patents has been issued for improvements in apparatus
for evaporating the juice of Chinese sugar cane, or sorghum. This kind of
apparatus is now brought to a considerable degree of perfection. But heretofore
tne inventors have aimed only at making a good quality of sirup. This object
has been attained, and the attention of inventors is now directed to the making
of sugar from the sirup. But very little has yet been accomplished in this
direction. In fact, those who have examined the composition of sorghum juice
have not satisfied themselves as to its true character. But the indications are
that the new sugar plant will be in the future aa profitable for the manu-
facture of sugar as it already has been for making sirup.

The great pumber of iron-clad ships of war has made a demand for some
mode of protecting them from corrosion, and their bottoms from the accumula-
""tion of barnacles. Four patents have been issued during the year having this
object in view. The first of these depends upon»the combination of three
different processes, viz : the interior of the hold is lined with zinc plates, the
outside is coated with a poisonous paint, and the whole covered with a paint
containing metallic zinc in fine particlos. The next invention coats the bottom
of the vessel with a cheap paint, made by combining copper ore in fine powder,
either oxide or pyrites, being used in combination with asphaltum, or the tarry
residuum of petroleum, the whole reduced to the proper consistency by light
coal oil or petroleum. The other two inventors simply incase the ship or vessel
fai a vitreous enamel, which may protect the iron from corrosion, but will no
prevent the accumulation of barnacles.

The large commerce in petroleum has made a demand for barrels and tanks.
The liquid hydrocarbons easily leak through the ordinary wooden casks. To
make an oil-tight cask has therefore become a problem of considerable importance,

Online LibraryUnited States. Patent OfficeReport of the Commissioner of Patents for the year .. → online text (page 14 of 164)