On Presidents Day, it is my pleasure to share with you the Beem Presidential Patent Collection. The collection comprises historic original patents and an original copyright, dated between 1800 and 1843, signed by U.S. presidents (also British monarchs), U.S. secretaries of state, and U.S. attorneys general. Also in the collection are original letters signed by famous inventors between 1776 and 1907. Last but not least, the collection includes a historic patent model of a brick-making machine. The collection—all originals—is displayed in the offices of Beem Patent Law Firm, in the Monadnock Building (circa 1893), in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
To view the Beem Presidential items, select Patent Collection for a list of exhibits in the collection and to display images and information about each exhibit.
My colleagues and I hope you will enjoy viewing these historic exhibits, and that you will find the text helpful as a guide and a narrative of the exhibits and their historical context, including biographies of key signers such as John Adams, 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).
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. Insofar as I know, none of the exhibited patents reflect any revolutionary advances in technology. But together they are of 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 keeper for a time of historical manuscripts and things. The present ownership of the patent manuscripts and the patent model came about unexpectedly. Over a forty-year career, Arthur Seidel, one of Philadelphia’s leading patent attorneys, worked diligently, intelligently and selectively to find and assemble the items in the collection. On June 2, 2006, an Intellectual Property Owners (IPO) newsletter announced Mr. Seidel’s auction of the collection through Christie’s, the famous auctioneer of museum-quality art and manuscripts. I saw the IPO notice, looked into the presidential patent 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 the valuable and interesting collection.
Or better yet, become a part of history yourself by entering the patent system. Let us know whenever we can be of service.