Hudson River Museum Presents Get Your Gears Turning…. The Curious World of Patent Models

The Hudson River Museum presents Get Your Gears Turning…. The Curious World of Patent Models on view through January 1, 2012.

“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.

Hudson River Museum, 511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers, NY. Wed – Sun, 12-5 pm. Museum: $5 adults, $3 seniors & youth 5-16. Children under 4, free. Members Free. Exit 9 (Executive Blvd). Saw Mill River Pkwy (north or south). Info & Dir: 914.963.4550;

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