Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In the Rare Book Room: The Country's Largest Patent . . .

. . . as of 1937. That is the year Alfred E. Ischinger patented his "Uninterrupted Knitting of Shaped Fabrics" machine, which produced 26 pairs of women's stockings at the touch of a button. This invention almost completely automated the stocking-making process. The machine was able to switch among the eight different types of thread required to produce a stocking. After Mr. Ischinger invented his machine, only one part of the production process still required human hands: sewing the back seam. At the time of its issue this patent was the largest ever granted by the Patent Office. It contained 170 sheets of drawings and 146 pages of specifications. Our copy was hot off the presses: the first one issued by the Patent Office.

Students in Joan Shear's Intellectual Property Research class got to see this patent up close yesterday, along with a Letters Patent from 1836, in which an inventor sold his intellectual property rights in the Chimney Funnelled Fire-Place for $500 (shown here). As always it was great to have a class visit the Rare Book Room!

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