Presidential Patents

Patent Collection Virtual Viewing Room

 

We are pleased to share this extraordinary collection of historic original manuscripts and a patent model. The collection includes several original patents and one original copyright, dated between 1776 and 1843, signed by presidents, monarchs, secretaries of state and attorneys general, original letters signed by famous inventors between the late 1700s and the very early 1900s, and, finally, of a historic patent model of a brick making machine. The collection is displayed in the offices of Beem Patent Law Firm, in the Monadnock Building (circa 1893), in Chicago, Illinois.

To view the collection, select Patent Collection for a list of items in the collection and to display images and information about each item.

Or, enter the Virtual Viewing Room for a 3-D tour of the items and related information.

The documents (patents on the original parchment, and with original signatures, ribbons and seals) were scanned to preserve them in their current state. Given the age of the documents and the natural deterioration of their condition and legibility, some of the text is difficult to read. Thus, we have provided information about the manuscripts with transcriptions of the text.

Consistent with the official practices of former times, but surprising to the modern eye, the exhibited patents are not numbered, i.e., with patent numbers. So far as is known to the authors, none of the patent exhibits reflect any revolutionary advances in technology. But together they may be of some historic interest, because they reflect the kinds of technologies that were of value to real-world inventors during the years between 1776 and 1907, and they show the great importance of inventions in the minds of the foremost leaders in government, beginning in England, traversing the ocean to the earliest foundations of the United States, and continuing in both these and other countries with sustained interest for decades and centuries.

It is an honor, which comes with a duty, to be the keepers for a time of historical manuscripts and things. The present ownership of the patent manuscripts and the patent model came about unexpectedly. Over the past forty years, Arthur Seidel, Philadelphia patent attorney, worked diligently, intelligently and selectively to find and assemble the items in the collection. On June 2, 2006, an IPO daily newsletter announced Mr. Seidel’s auction of the collection through Christie’s. Richard Beem, Chicago patent attorney, saw the IPO notice, looked into the collection, participated by long distance telephone in the live auction at Rockefeller Center in New York City, and won the rights and responsibilities of ownership of this valuable and interesting collection.

It is hoped that you will enjoy viewing these historic items, and that you will find the text helpful as a guide and a narrative of the items and their historical context, including biographies of key signers, organized by their roles as U.S. Presidents (signers of exhibited patents include seven of the first eight persons who were or would become U.S. Presidents) or British Monarchs (King George III, at whose order one exhibited patent was printed, and Queen Victoria, who signed another), U.S. Secretaries of State (signers of exhibited patents include seven of the first thirteen persons who served as Secretaries), U.S. Attorneys General (signers of exhibited patents include eight of the first twelve Attorneys General), and famous inventors (signers of exhibited letters include James Watt, Samuel F.B. Morse, and Thomas Edison). The originals are on display in the Chicago offices of Beem Patent Law Firm.


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