AConfederate Patent Discovered ON the 23rd day of August, 1861, the Confederate States of America granted Letters Patent, No. 13, to P. R. Clements of Eufaula, Ala., covering an improvement in water wheels. The original of this patent, which is in the possession of a Washington patent attorney, is the only one known to the United States Patent Office to be at present in existence. Its whereabouts was discovered by Mr. James T. Allen, a first assistant examiner in the office, and one of the oldest employees in point of service, now in that bureau. Mr. Allen entered the Patent Office in September, 1868, several years after the Confederate States of America ceased to exist, but he has always been interested in the collection of statistics and information regarding the work of American inventors. Mr. Allen obtained the loan of Confederate Patent, No. 13, and at his own expense had a plate made, from which the reproduction on this page is taken. There are several interesting features about this patent. It will be noticed that the term of the patent is fourteen years, whereas at that time United States patents were granted for a term of seventeen years, the period having been extended from fourteen to seventeen years by the Act of March 13th, 1861, nearly six months prior to the date of the Clements Confederate patent. The fee is fixed at forty dollars, which is very reasonable, considering the fact that the present fee for a United States patent is thirty-five dollars. Confederate money is not specified in the grant, but it is to be presumed that that currency was the proper legal tender in the Confederate Patent Office. The grant bears the signatures of 1. P. Benjamin, the first Confederate Attorney General, and of Rufus R. Rhodes, Confederate Commissioner of Patents. There is room for conjecture in the serial number of the patent; data as to the previously granted patents, a round dozen in number, are not available. The patentees under these may long ago have faded into dust; the inventions may be as worthless as the grant under which they were issued. Whether or not thirteen was the sum total of patents issued by the Confederate States is not known. Perhaps in the possession of some old family of the South are the original records of the long-forgotten Patent Office of the Confederacy. These alone can answer the question. Perhaps, carefully guarded as priceless mementoes of the past, are scattered here and there throughout the land of Dixie the yellowing documents granting exclusive rights to inventions long since forgotten or superceded. The pages of history are always being reopened in this way. Looking down the long vista of years, one can see the struggling states south of the Mason and Dixon line, who believed in the right as they saw it, and sacrificed their all to support their convictions. When P. R. Clements of Eufaula, Ala., was handed Letters Patent, No. 13, of the Confederate States of America, the paper was clean and crackling and the signatures on it were scarcely dry. High hopes bounded in his bosom as he realized that for fourteen years he would have protection in which to enjoy the fruits of his toil. Even now his improved water wheels may be turning in some hamlet of the Southland, grinding the meal that is to form the daily bread of its citizens—citizens of the Confederacy no more, but citizens of the United States, the nation that has recently issued its millionth patent. But the holder of that millionth patent, which has been so widely advertised and so lauded as being typical of the great achievements of the American brain, was not more proud of his possession than P. R. Clements of Eufaula, Ala., when he was granted No. 13, of the Confederacy. Women Patentees in One Issue AS showing the activity of the ladies along inventive lines, it may be noted that among the patents issued October 10th, 1911, are found many to women inventors. These include Ada Litton of Revere, Mass., who patents, No. 1,005,244, a ribbon renovating device; Evalena O. Leggett of Niagara Falls, N. Y., whose patent, No. 1,005,240, is for an insulating compound ; patent No. 1,005,213, to Hattie D. Hinds of Rutland, Vt., for a jar wrench; the fireless cooker, patent No. 1,005,211, to Ada T. Hill of Salem, Ill.; the electrically heated tray, patent No. 1,005,166, to Florence L. Crombie of Detroit, Mich.; patent No. 1,005,124, to Effie A. Babst of Crestline, Ohio, for a sectional railroad rail; patent No. 1,005,542, to Ada Harmer of St. Louis, Mo., for a stand and gage for dress makers; patent No. 1,005,575, to Estelle C. Raney and Charles E. Simmons of Steubenville, Ohio, for an automatic circuit breaker for electrical distribution systems; Mary E. Van Luven, Oakland, Cal., No. 1,005,675, for an irrigating vessel; No. 1,005,752, to Jennie R. Sherrod of San Francisco, Cal., for a hook for hooks and eyes. Patents That Expire This Year A MONG the many patents for important **-or representative inventions which have or will expire during the year 1911 may be mentioned the patent to Smethurst, No. 520,902, June ,5th, 1894, for potato harvester; the seed drill patent, to Schopp&Liese, No. 513,060, January 16th, 1894; patents to Pitt, No. 516,745, March 20th, 1894, and to Stevens&Swart, No. 519,460, May 8th, 1894, for transplanters; the patent, No. 524,629, to Popp, August 14th, 1894, for preserving; the cigar making machine of Moonelis, No. 514,238, February 6th, 1894; patent No. 522,132, June 26th, 1894, to Van Ruymbeke, for distilling glycerine; patent No.528,322, to Castner, October 30th, 1894, and to Cra-ney, No. 520,257, May 22nd, 1894, for the electrolytic production of caustic soda, sodium carbonate and chlorin; the patent to Coyle, No. 518,394, April 17th, 1894, for sewer construction; No. 522,782, to Clouser, for a railway switch which can be operated without leaving the car; patents No. 520,812 and No. 520,813, .June 5th, 1894, to Thomas, for pneumatically controlled switches and signals ; patent to Morgan, No. 517,619, April 3rd, 1894, for a passenger elevator with automatic mail collecting and delivering devices ; Sellers, No. 520,940, June 5th, 1894, for armature winding; patents to Scott, .June 5th, 1894, No. 521,051, and to Hunting, February 20th, 1894, for electric motive power; Fiske, No. 529,484, November 20th, 1894, for printing telegraph; the Copeland patent, No. 529,110, November 13th, 1894, for bicycle crank shaft fastening, dispensing with the connecting keys. Greater strength as against telescoping or crushing in collisions and other accidents is sought by a rolled steel plate construction in a patent, No. 512,960, of January 16th, 1894, to Jewett. Miller's patent, No. 516,084, March 6th, 1894, for cable transportation; patents No. 516,05:3, March 6th, 1894, to Hulett, and No. 527,117, No. 527,118 and No. 527,119, to Lay, October 9th, 1894, for coaling steamers; No. 518,895, of April 24th, 1894, to Porter, for handling hay, and No. 515,296, of February 20th, 1894, No. 526,839, of October 2nd, 1894, and No. 530,232, of December 4th, 1894, to Louden, for means for unloading hay; the Burgess patent, No. 520,752, of May 29th, 1894, for automatic fire arms; the hot water car heating patent to Towne, No. 512,239, of January 2nd, 1894; patent to Bickinel, No. 526,361, September 18th, 1894, for a brushing machine ; the shoe insole channeling machine, patent to French and Meyer, No. 529,900, of November 27th, 1894; the stitch separating and welt indenting machine, patent of Hadaway No. 521,978, of June 26th, 1894; the patent, No. 528,128, of October 23rd, 1894, to Julian, for sole-rounding machine; patent to Dunbar, No. 521,233, June 12th, 1894, for machine for making screws, bolts, etc. Klatte patent, No. 523,432, July 24th, 1894, for chain making machine; the Coffin patent, No. 512,694, of January 9th, 1894, and the Hunter patent, No. 520,360, May 22nd, 1894, for electrical welding of metal; patent No. 514,705, February 13th, 1894, to Cornell, for label affixing machine; patents to Barry, January 2nd, 1894, No. 511,745, and to Ethridge, No. 521.605, June 19th, 1894, for mail marking machines; the Goodson patent, No. 530,481, December 4th, 1894, for type-setting machine; the Northrop loom, patent No. 529,943, November 27th, 1894, patent No. 517,795, April 3rd, 1894, to Morgan, for machine for dovetailing box blanks; clothes pin making machine, No. 513,572, to Hall, January 30th, 1894, tooth pick machine; No. 521,734 and No. 521,736, June 19th, 1894, Scamman, No. 515,506, February 27th, 1894, to Sherman, for floor-board boring machine ; automatic screw driving device to Briggs, No. 529,701, November 27th, 1894, No. 526,668, to Davis, September 25th, 1894, for rotary machine; the photograph burnisher to Boles, No. 527,315, October 9th, 1894, and magazine camera, No. 522,921, to Spooner, July 10th, 1894; illuminating life preserver to Guest and Bates, No. 512,957, January 16th, 1894; apparatus for oiling waves, Hallett, No. 529,379, November 20th, 1894; marine torpedoes, Holland, No. 522,177, June 26th, 1894, and Baker, No. 530,466, December 4th, 1894; Gorham, No. 525,952, invalid bed. Inventors' Permanent Exhibit in London C ONSUL-GENERAL JOHN L. GRIF-^-^FITHS, in an official communication published by the Bureau of Manufactures, is quoted as saying: "It is stated that a permanent exhibition will be held in London for the benefit of inventors. The exhibition is to he kept open throughout the entire year, and inventors will be afforded the opportunity of displaying their patents to possible purchasers, not only in the United Kingdom, but from all parts of the world. It is purposed employing expert demonstrators, who will take visitors through the various sections of the exhibition and who will have technical knowledge of the sections with which they are specifically connected. "Through this exhibition, which has its financial side, it is hoped to bring investors who are anxious for promising patents in which they may place their money, in touch with patentees who may have something of real value to offer but who are unable frequently, under existing conditions, profitably to dispose of their inventions." Invention Necessary to Patentability \/\/Fj are constantly seeing new things * ' thai, seem ingenious and many times important, but which cannot be protected by patent because they do not possess or involve the prime essential to patentability —invention. A thing may be new and it may be for a useful purpose, but if it stops there and does not involve invention, it cannot be protected by patent, because patents are the reward for the products of invention. Thus, Walker says: “Patents are grantable for things invented, and not for things otherwise produced.” He also announces the absence of any universal affirmati ve rule for determining whether invention exists, but gives a number of negative rules, thus emphasizing the difficulty of determining what is or is not invention, but in no way affecting the fundamental principle that invention is necessary to patentability, thus dignifying and elevating the patent grant. Many inventors have not the mechanical skill to produce the invention in physical form and it is not necessary that they should it for if the inventor and supplies all the inventive ideas he can employ mechanical assistants in the production of the actual embodiment of his invention. Notes for Inventors A Sensible Night Signal for Automobiles. —Many of the most serious automobile accidents are due to a misunderstanding or ignorance of the intentions, and so a system of hand signaling has come into vogue, which, although crude, answers many purposes so long as the driver of one car is enabled to see that of another. At night such communication between the car operators is impossible. A rear signal has been devised for the purpose. It is electrically operated and consists of three lamps and a horn. A red lamp is lit permanently, while above is a green lamp, which, being flashed, signifies that the driver is about to stop. To the right and left are white lamps, signifying his intention to turn to the right or left. These signals are all electric and are operated by buttons, conveniently placed for operation by the chauffeur. As any one of these signals is made, the horn is sounded to attract the attention of anyone who may be following. An Illuminated Life Preserver.—An illuminated life saver has been on trial. for some time in the Gorman navy and so is it regarded that it is likely to be adopted for use on the warships. It consists of two long floating cushions, which are secured on the chest and back, passing over the shoulders, and which are strapped in place somewhat after the fashion of a knapsack. This shape is said to support the body in the water much more comfortably than the life preservers of older form. This apparatus is equipped with an electrical lamp, supplied with current from a battery, and the lamp is automatically thrown into action upon the buckling of the belt around the person. This 1'oaluro is regarded as of great value in some kinds of accident, especially those at night, and in times of peace, although in warfare it would not always be desirable. Street-car Letter Boxes.—It was objected to early letter boxes for use on street cars for the collection of mail matter, that where the openings were of sufficient size to permit the deposit of mail conveniently, they also permitted the entrance of rain, which generally had a serious effect, causing the envelopes to become unsealed and addresses effaced or at least rendered illegible. The postal authorities are conducting some experiments at Washington with a street car equipped with a letter collecting box which is proof against the entrance of rain. The box has a large opening with sloping sides, which facilitate the passage of mail matter without regard to size or number of pieces deposited. The sides of the are supplied with a double arrangement of gutters which catch all raindrops and carry the water away from the mail matter in the box. The Humors of Patent Specifications.— The ideas of different people as to the usefulness of a device necessary to support a patent are sometimes very amusing. A patent was once granted for a cube-shaped device, intended for use by card players, as a tally block, and in the original specification, the inventor, either from a sense of humor or from a misunderstanding of what was required in applications for patent, described some remarkable utilities for the device. Thus he writes : "Besides the above mentioned conveniences to a card player, I claim it to become a “Con. stant companion to present humanity and countless millions to come. The man of business will carry it in his coat pocket and rejoice to be in a position to meet any emergency. A hole in his pocket does not bother him as he can carry his loose change in the tally block. The- sponge can be changed at will containing the perfume that shall permeate his clothes, walking about on the street his nose is apt to offer a good landing place for soot, the little mirror on tally block keeps him from rubbing at it x-eyed and spitting on his handkerchief, the sponge will perform that duty. No fear of foot pads as a corner of the tally block on the top of his head with a gentle pressure will make quite an impression. Coming home baby cutting teeth and is cross will change into a smiling miracle when papa pulls out the tally block and juggles with the dice box, its attention being riveted the pain is all gone. Coming late from a lodge meeting and the key being about one inch out of his reach on the transom, the tally block is as good as a step ladder. In case wifey thinks she has heard a noise in the cellar or wants him to look at the gas meter, the tally block answers the purpose of a candle holder. To a poet with inspirations or those who wish to keep record of a dream and write in the dark, nothing takes the place of the tally block" and so on for many paragraphs of the same kind of matter, which, needless to say, were eliminated before the actual issue of the patent. There are Cops and “ Cops."—The examining corps of the Patent Office is of an unusually high order of intelligence and the members are generally acquainted with the various arts. Sometimes amusing things occur when an examiner fails to understand a technical term well known in another art. A"cop” is defined as “the conical roll of thread formed on the spindle of a spinning machine.” In an application, now issued, and consequently a public record, the applicant referred to an illustration as “the representation of a cop.” Not understanding the word, the examiner wrote, seriously, a letter in part as follows: "The attention of the examiner being called to this case, he regards it as in no condition for official judgment on the merits. Applicant shows a device which the examiner would be inclined to regard as the representation of a ball of twine. Applicant says however it is 'the representation of a” cop.' It does not look like a policeman, which to the examiner's mind is the popular signification of the word cop, and consequently the word requires some limitations.' ' The Inventive Convict.—That all people, even hard-hearted jailers, are interested in inventors and inventions is shown by the following story: Some years ago a Washington patent attorney was called on by a man from the West who had an improvement in some refrigerating apparatus and prepared and filed the application for patent, the inventor leaving ostensibly for home. A few days later the attorney received a telegram from the sheriff of .the inventor's home county, asking whether he was in Washington, and replied that he had been but had left for home, and later received from the sheriff an explanatory letter to the effect that the inventor had been committed to jail for some offense and while in the sheriff's custody had developed the invention in which the sheriff had taken an interest; that he had, on his own responsibility, released the prisoner temporarily, so he could go to Washington to secure the patent and then return to serve the balance of his term. So far as known, the sheriff is still waiting his return. Sectional Book Cases.—An early instance of a construction capable of being utilized in a sectional book-case is shown in the expired patent to Spruce, No. 224,486, patented February 10th, 1880. While specified as a post-office box, the patentee described each box as a complete and independent structure in itself, so that in arranging a number of boxes together, this single complete structure enslilcs the placing of them in series vertically and horizontally, according to the space required to be filled, and that the boxes may be made and held in stock, from which orders may be at once filled for a number of boxes, without regard to the space to be filled by the boxes. A Japanese Appreciation.—A government publication tells how the Japanese government, in proceeding to establish a patent system under their patent act of March 1st, 1899, sent, as a special commissioner, Mr. Korekiyo Takahashi, to the United States to examine into our patent system. At that time, Mr. Perry B. Pierce, now deceased, was examiner of designs, and Mr. Takahashi had many with him. In one of these, Mr. Pierce asked the Japanese commissioner why the people of Japan desired a patent system, and Mr. Takahashi replied: “You know it is only since Commodore Perry, in 1854, opened the ports of Japan to foreign commerce that the Japanese have been trying to become a great nation, like other nations of the earth, and we have looked about us to see what nations are the greatest, so we could be like them; and we said: 'There is the United States, not much more than a hundred years old, and America was discovered by Columbus, yet four hundred years ago;' and we said: 'What is it that makes the United States such a great nation?' And we investigated and we found it was patents, and we will have patents. “ In repeating the interview, Examiner Pierce declared that: “Not in all history is there an instance of such unbiased testimony to the value and worth of the patent system, as practised in the United States." A Patent Office Rival of Tom Sawyer's. —A story is told of the chief clerk of the United States Patent Office, Mr. William F. Woolard, which is in the class with Mark Twain's famous account of how Tom Sawyer escaped the irksome task of whitewashing a high board fence, by persuading his playmates such work really was a rare pleasure in which an ordinary boy had no opportunity to indulge. In his boyhood days the chief clerk lived in Fairfield, 1ll., and it was his duty on Saturday to cut the wood for household use during the week. The burdensome task was increased by having to carry the wood to the wood-house, fifty yards away. To relieve himself of that burden, young Woolard erected. an inclined track and constructed a small flat car, so that no labor was involved in sending the loaded car down or the empty car up the track. Its availability as a gravity railway for pleasure riding was soon discovered, and when the boys of the town began to so use it, while the builder was industriously engaged at the wood-pile, a halt was called. Each boy was required to cut a carload -of wood in order to be entitled to a free ride. On Saturdays there was a procession of boys with axes and and the wood-yard looked like a husking bee, with the result that the wood-house was soon filled to overflowing. When this condition was reached, the elder Woolard not meet the further demand for more cord wood. Snow Melting Apparatus.—A snow' melting apparatus in which the snow in finely separated particles is passed into a melting chamber and heat is applied to the snow particles while finely 'Separated is presented in a patent (No. 1,004,113) to Garry B. Van Wye of New York city. Milk and Cream Mixing Can.—To prevent most of the cream from passing off with the first milk poured out of the can, Newton Sherman has patented (No. 1,004,919) a milk can with a cover and with a milk and cream mixing device which is independent of the cover and can be operated from the outside of the can without removing the cover. Disinfects Book Leaves.—As described in a patent (No. 1,005,036) Thomas H. Hood of Greenville, Miss., disinfects books by or opening the leaves by a current of air and utilizing the same current of air to deliver a disinfecting substance to the leaves.
This article was originally published with the title "The Inventor's Department" in Scientific American 105, 19, 413-414 (November 1911)