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An original patent model of “an improved apparatus for pressing tobacco” invented by Francis B. Deane of Lynchburg, Virginia. The apparatus bears its original handwritten U.S. Patent Office tag, affixed on wire under seal, for Patent No. 212,446, granted on February 18, 1879. The model is accompanied by a reprint of the five-page printed patent application comprising three pages of text and two diagrams.
In the patent application Deane explains his innovation:
My invention relates to an improved apparatus for pressing tobacco, the same being designed more particularly for pressing tobacco into hogsheads, but applicable also to other uses.
The object of my invention is to reduce the time, labor, and expense of packing the tobacco; and to this end the improvement consists mainly in the construction and arrangement of a suspended jack, arranged to travel over a row of hogsheads, so that a single jack gives successively to each hogshead the desired pressure.
He further explained that his press was also designed to make it easy to remove or replace parts.
Francis B. Deane was an inventor based in Lynchburg, Virginia, who obtained several patents between 1878 and 1898, including inventions for pressing and baling cotton as well as an apparatus for liquefying gas. There was a Francis B. Deane, Jr. active in the iron foundry business from at least 1836 to 1863, first in Richmond and later in Lynchburg. He also represented Campbell County in the Virginia General Assembly from 1853 to 1858. Given the much later dates in which Francis B. Deane, the inventor, was active, it may be conjectured that he was probably a descendant or relative of Francis B. Deane, Jr.
The United States Patent Office was created in 1790. At first, applicants were required to produce a working model of each invention in miniature. From 1793 to 1836, a simplified process not requiring a model was in effect. The Patent Act of 1836 once again required models with the proviso that "[t]he model, not more than 12 inches square, should be neatly made, the name of the inventor should be printed or engraved upon, or affixed to it, in a durable manner." After 1880, this requirement was again abolished. Facing a major storage problem of some 150,000 models, Congress transferred 2,500 to the Smithsonian Institution and authorized the sale of the rest at auction in 1925, where they were purchased by philanthropist Sir Henry Wellcome. In 1941, the collection was dispersed. Today, some of those models remain in private collections and others are in museums such as the Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum in Upstate New York.
Original Handwritten Tag: “No. 212,446, 1879. F.B. Deane, Apparatus for Pressing Tobacco. Patented Feb. 18th 1879.”
Dana, William B. The Merchants Magazine and Commercial Review. Vol. 16. New York: 1847. p. 530. Online at Google Books. http://books.google.com. (14 March 2008).
Deane, Francis B. Various patents online at Google Patent Search. http://www.google.com/patents (20 March 2008).
“Guide to the Manuscript Collections.” Digital Library & Archives, Virginia Tech University. 14 February 2008. http://spec.lib.vt.edu/specgen/msguide/mgdef.htm (14 March 2008).
Ray, William and Marlys Ray. The Art of Invention: Patent Models and Their Makers. Princeton, NJ: Pyne Press, 1974.
Rothschild, Alan. “The History of United States Patent Models and the Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum.” Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum. 2001. http://www.patentmodel.org/History.aspx (17 March 2008).