Patent No. 135,089
Sylvanus Cox & William W. Fanning
January 21, 1873
(SI neg. 86-6164)
From 1790 until 1880, the USPTO required a small-scaled model of the invention be submitted along with the patent application. The 1836 fire in the Patent Office destroyed all the models and much of the patent documentation; a restoration project, in place through 1849, replaced some of this material. A second fire in 1877 destroyed almost 40% of the model collection existing at that time.
Originally the Patent Office kept these models on display but because of space restrictions parts of the collection continually had to be put in storage; by the end of 1893 the complete collection was crated and no longer available to the public. The Smithsonian selected some models for its American History Collection, some were given away to universities, museums, or inventor's descendants and, starting in 1926, the remainder was auctioned off. (1)
The two biggest collections of U.S. patent models are the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (1) and private collector, Alan Rothschild (2).
(1) Janssen, Barbara Suit. Patent Models Index: A Guide to the Collections of the National Muesum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2010. Smithsonian Contributions to History and Technology, no. 54.
Information about U.S. Patent models and photographs of the two models displayed on this page are from this index.
(2) Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum
Patent No. 118,435
George P. Clarke
Naturally Creeping Baby Dolls
August 29, 1871
(SI neg. 86-6160)