1842 · [ Washington DC ]
by Woodard, Abijah
[ Washington DC ]: US Patent Office, 1842. Good. Four pages plus fine colored patent illustration in watercolor and ink. Folio (11 x 15 1/2 inches). Bound by a faded pink silk ribbon. Front and rear leaves on vellum. The first page is an official United States patent document (engraved form) with page two blank. First page with large vignette engraving by Henry Stone (Bannerman Sc). Page four contains Woodward signature, and withness signatures of Henry Baxter and Sylvanus Bartlett. Writing on first page faded, yellow seal mostly perished. Signed by Daniel Webster as Secretary of States, and Henry L. Ellsworth as Commisioner of Patents. The description of the invention and claim are quite readable. The inventory Abijah Woodard is of Swansey, in the county of Cheshire, New Hampshire. "In constructing this Waterwheel I form upon the shaft et a hub b, of any suitable size, from which I project buckets c radially, the outer ends having a backward curve. From the lower edges of these buckets rings d are extended downward, which run spirally round the hub with a constantly-increasing curvature to their termination." (from the patent description) Colored illustration (watercolor wash in several tones) with inked highlights was done by J.J. Greenough, Patent Agent, Washington, D.C. and attached to the document by A. L. McIntire (a Draftsman at the US Patent Office).
We've been unable to find much about Woodard. What we can say is that this is early for scientific patents and that Woodard's patent has been referenced in other patent documents at least 4 times in the last 10 years. The illustration is quite nice, and this is, withall, a nice example of a patent from this period in American industrial history. Water Wheels were what drove machinery in most of the mill cities of New England during this time, and improvements were welcomed. In essence, the more efficient the water wheel, the more efficient the power plant that ran the factory. And these improvements were made on a massive physical scale, without the benefit of computer modeling. A quick look at a 1850s era govt patent reference noted more than a dozen issued patents citing new improvements in water wheels, most from New England/New York inventors. Necessity is the mother of invention is an old cliche - but in this case very much true.
(Inventory #: 27962)