Patents & Patent Models

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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For close to a century, patent submissions in the U.S. were accompanied by working scale models intended to show both the physical and functional distinctions of an innovative idea.  With thousands of these patents applied for by early wagon manufacturers, many of them were accompanied by a scaled down version of the actual invention.  Even so, it’s rare today to come across these miniature representations related to the construction of 19th century vehicles.
Shown in this post is the actual patent model used to secure the 1880 brake patent for A.C. Fish of Racine, Wisconsin.  Interestingly, the handle on the brake is designed to pivot to quickly release and even ‘feather’ the intensity of the brake setting.  If anyone has seen a production version of this brake ratchet, we’d enjoy seeing some photos of the finished product. 
The ‘Fish’ family was a well-known and widely-heralded family of wagon makers whose products are firmly connected to early farming, ranching, freighting and emigrant travel in the Old West.  As such, surviving Fish Brothers wagons from both Racine, Wisconsin and Clinton, Iowa are popular among enthusiasts still today.  FYI… in case you missed it, we posted some additional information on an early Fish Bros. wagon in our December 19,  2011 blog post
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