Letter of the Commissioner of Patents in relation to the Arts and Manufactures for the year 1851

May 3, 1852 -- Laid upon the table and ordered to be printed August 30, 1852 -- Ordered that 50,000 extra copies be printed August 31, 1852 -- Ordered that 10,000 extra copies be printed for the use of the Patent Office

United States Patent Office

March 13, 1852


I have the honor of transmitting to you, with the view of its being laid before Congress, that portion of the Report of this Office for the year 1851, which relates to Arts and Manufactures. Its presentation has been delayed for the completion of a report on the World's Exposition, by Mr. Riddle, commissioner of the United States, which it was desirable to include.

The second or Agricultural section of the Report will shortly be submitted.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Thomas Ewbank

Hon. Linn Boyd
Speaker of the House of Representatives

Report of the Commissioner of Patents


United States Patent Office, January 1852

Before introducing the usual financial and statistical sections of the Report, I beg to submit some remarks and suggestions in relation to

The Patent Office, its Administration, etc.

1. On the Supervision exercised by the Secretary of the Interior -- There is in the business of the Patent Office nothing congenial with or allied to that which is transacted in the departments, while its very nature is such as to render exterior control often embarrassing. Whatever may have been expedient in the infancy of its organization, when it was little else than a clerkship under the Secretary of State, its position and requirements are very different now. To vest a controlling power over its administration in heads of departments who have no time to devote to it, and who, from education, habits, profession, and feelings, can have little or no active sympathies with interests represented in it, or with the class of citizens with whom it has most to do, can hardly prove otherwise than prejudicial. Hence there is an increasing desire among inventors and patentees, mechanics, manufacturers and others, whose feelings no less than their interests center in the Patent Office, that its dependency on the department should cease.

On this subject I beg to quote from a communication addressed by me to the Secretary of the Interior on the 30th of January last:

"There is probably no question bearing more on the future usefulness and efficient administration of the Patent Office than the extent to which Congress designs it to be subject to any other department. Exclusively devoted to the progress of science and art, to the development of new elements of civilization, it should be protected in the prosecution of its mission, wholly freed from political influences; and it is believed that no administration can more readily command the approbation of reflecting citizens, of all parties, than by securing to it this immunity. It was designed, as generally understood, by the law of 1836, to be an independent bureau, with a very limited check vested in the department. Such was the avowed intention of those who drew up the law, and such, as has been always understood in the office, was the intention of congress, as manifested in instructing the Commissioner to report his proceedings directly to both Houses; in special legislation for his guidance; and, contrary to the practice of any other department or bureau, requiring from him bonds for the faithful performance of his duties, and for the disbursement of moneys from the Patent fund.

"A difference of views between the office and the department elicited the opinion of the Attorney General, that, 'The general supervision and direction over the Patent Office, which is vested in you, (the Secretary of the Interior,) comprehends the appointment of such temporary clerks in that office as are authorized by law; and also the payment of their salary or compensation out of any money appropriated for the purpose. And, of course, that the Commissioner of the Patent Office, in the employment or appointment of clerks, and in the disbursement of money appropriated for their compensation, acts under the superintendency and subject to the control of the Secretary of the Interior; and that it makes no difference in the case whether the money so to be disbursed is appropriated out of the agricultural fund, the Patent Office fees, or out of any other fund.'

"Since this opinion was communicated to me, it has been invariably respected; but as long as it is enforced, this bureau can never fully accomplish the objects for which it was organized. Whatever may be the practice in other bureaus, it will be impossible for any Commissioner to carry on, with credit to the country and satisfaction to inventors and patentees, the peculiar, important and multitudinous affairs, and to reconcile the often conflicted interests committed to his charge, if he be not permitted to judge of the merits and qualifications of his assistants, or to remove such as are incompetent, or in other respects unfit; that is, if he is made responsible for the acts of those over whom he has no control. And again; if the department has the control of the disbursements, it is but reasonable that the Secretary should file the required sureties, and not the Commissioner.

"On subjects deemed vital to the integrity and usefulness of the Patent Office, there should be left no room for doubt; hence, I respectfully recall these to your consideration, and propose to submit them to Congress, with a view of having the powers and responsibilities of the office distinctly defined."

The arts and sciences have no affinities with, and should not be linked to, temporary politics. To suppose the business of this office can be carried on, if its desks are occupied, as in some departments, by persons even of general qualifications, instead of special fitness, is a great mistake. Mechanical inventions and discoveries, for which patents are issued, are based upon the great physical laws of nature, and are illustrations of them; hence it is in conformity with those laws that the decisions of the office must be made. But this requires close and undivided attention, and, above all, freedom from extraneous interruptions and influences. These are, and ever must be, detrimental in the highest degree. They not only embarrass the proper and harmonious working of the institution, but are subversive to the great objects contemplated in its organization.

The duties of the Commissioner and examiners are of too purely scientific a nature for them to be subjected, with advantage, to heads and sometimes chief clerks of departments, who cannot be expected to enter into the peculiar business of the Patent Office, or appreciate the very serious evils of interference. If the Commissioner and chief officers are not competent to perform, or are not faithful in the discharge of their onerous tasks, they should be removed; but if they are able and honest, they ought no to be harassed with calls to answer complaints preferred to the Department of Interior, and often to the President, by disappointed applicants and their friends; by parties stimulated with promises of large sums, made payable on the issue of a patent; and by agents and speculators, smarting under the loss of such contingent fees. Nor is there the slightest ground or reason for such attempts at coercion; since, if the office improperly refuse a patent, the law has provided a court of appeal, in which its decisions can be revised and reversed.

Dissatisfaction on the part of applicants is unavoidable, because of the number of old devices presented for patents; nor can this ever be prevented, unless by the publication of such an Index of Inventions as has been in previous reports, and again in this, recommended to the favorable attention of Congress. There is no disposition in the office to refuse patents; the feeling is the very reverse. Rejections are made only in performance of a duty imposed by law. This duty is an unpleasant and arduous one, often blighting the fond anticipations of ingenious and worthy men, and often necessitating a more or less elaborate defense of the grounds of action in the case; whereas, in granting a patent the office is relieved from these and other difficulties. Hence it is absurd to suppose that refusals are wantonly made, there being no possible motive to refuse a patent, but every inducement to grant one. When doubts exist, the benefit is always given to the applicant.

If systematic endeavors to overawe and overrule the Commissioner be not frowned down, they will, in time, affect the integrity of the Patent Office, and will make it a source of injustice to the public and of grievous wrongs to real inventors. Its judicial character requires that it be cordially sustained, and jealously protected from improper influences. It should be surrounded with the same safeguards that defend the independence of every United States court. What would be the condition of judges of the Supreme and of other courts, if they were constantly called upon to reopen carefully adjudicated cases, and answer complaints of defeated litigants, accompanied with insinuations and often direct charges of ignorance, imbecility, partiality, corruption, and kindred attributes? Few high-minded men would accept and fewer would remain in office. In this bureau, everything is matter of record. No decision is made without communicating the reasons, in writing, to the parties concerned; they are placed on file, and become part of the public archives of the office. This, together with a court of appeal, secures the rights of applicants, and is an ample guarantee against unjust and arbitrary decisions.

It would, in my opinion, have a dereliction of duty to have refrained from thus soliciting the attention of Congress to a subject so essentially affecting the character and usefulness of the Patent Office; so deep are my convictions of the positively injurious effects of departmental control, unaccompanied, as it is, by one single compensating advantage to the office, the administration, or the public.

2. Additional room required -- I respectfully but earnestly urge an early provision of additional room for the clerical business of the office, as well as for a proper exhibition of the models. The continued occupancy of the largest and best part of the building as a museum, and the delay in finishing the new wing, have resulted in embarrassments that are daily becoming more and more serious. Indeed, if the evil be not soon corrected, it will prove a positive interruption of the business of the office. The few rooms at its command have become so crowded, that the mails have, for the last twelve months, been made up in the open passage, where the correspondence and daily cash remittances are unavoidably exposed.

Such an exhibition of the models as was contemplated and directed by the law of 1836 is not only impossible, but it is scarcely practicable to protect them from serious injury, if, indeed, the more delicate among them can be secured from positive destruction. Their condition is a great injustice to their authors, and to inventors and patentees generally; since the room and cases, prepared expressly for them at the expense of the Patent fund, have now been withheld from the office for a period of ten years. As Congress alone has the power, I would respectfully suggest that immediate action be taken to provide room necessary for the classification, arrangement, and proper display of the models.

In relation to the details of the subject, I beg to introduce the following correspondence, elicited by a resolution of the Senate, of January 28, 1851:

Patent Office, January 30, 1851

Sir: Having been desired by you to express our opinion on the wants of this office, as far as room is concerned, we have the honor to report:

First. That the patented models now in the office are so much crowded that the provision of the law with respect to the exhibition of them cannot be complied with; that the rejected models are in a similar, but worse condition.

Second. That the draughtsman's room, library, and record room, are at present crowded to an extent which renders it extremely difficult to perform the duties that are required to be done in those departments; at least three times the space is wanted for the library, and double for the draughtsman's room.

Third. It is a matter of almost absolute necessity that the recording clerks should be in the vicinity of the record room.

Fourth. That the copying clerk for letters and the clerk who has charge of assignments are at present crowded into apartments of other officers, whose rooms are too full without them.

Fifth. That it has become a matter of necessity for the examiners to have rooms in which they may converse with applicants, without the latter having an opportunity to examine, or even glance at, the models of pending applications.

Sixth. Rooms are required for workshops, caveat models, and pending models.

Seventh. That an ante-room has become indispensably necessary.

Eighth. That it is a matter well understood that the force of this office must be yearly increasing, and that the foregoing considerations are based upon the present force and the expected increase of records, but not upon an increased number of clerks.

We therefore believe that the whole number of the basement of the present building and the wing are necessary for a proper distribution of the rejected models and for workshops; that the whole of the upper halls, both of the building and wing, are at present required for patented models, and will probably be filled to overflowing in the course of three years. And we also believe that the whole of the first floor of the present building and the wing will not more than suffice for the wants of the Commissioner, examiners, machinist, draughtsman, and clerks, when it is considered that the library and draughtsman's room are daily narrowing in effective space, and that it would be useless to move them into apartments, which, in the course of less than three years, would be quite as contracted as those which are now daily hindering the effective action of this office.

If a different arrangement from that herein intimated be adopted, it will merely vary the distribution of offices, models, and records, but will not alter, in the least, the absolute amount of space that is needed.

All of which is respectfully submitted:

Chas. G. Page
N.P.N. Fitzgerald
Henry B. Renwick
L.D. Gale
Principal Examiners

J.H. Lane
Saml. Cooper
T.R. Peale
Thos. J. Everett
Assistant Examiners

R.S. Chilton, Librarian
A.L. McIntire, Draughtsman
Saml. P. Bell, Machinist
A.B. Little, Assignment Clerk

Hon. Thos. Ewbank
Commissioner of Patents


United States Patent Office, February 4, 1851

In reply to your letter of January 31st, I have the honor to state that, with a view of ascertaining the sentiments of the principal officers of this bureau respecting the information called for by the resolution of the Senate of the 28th ultimo, viz: "What additional room, if any, is required for the proper accommodation of the Patent Office," etc., etc., I asked for their opinions, and thought it the safest course to submit them for your consideration in place of my own.

My personal opinion, now required, was, after an examination, expressed in the Report of 1849, page 512. Though the business of the office has increased since the date of that report, I still think that, were the upper floor and its cases restored to the office for the reception of its models, and the space now occupied by the models converted into rooms, there would be sufficient for the immediate wants of the office.

If the museum is to remain where it is, then, certainly, the whole of the upper floor of the new wing will be required for the models now in the office; but that would be an inconvenient arrangement, since by it the models would be far distant from the rooms of the officers requiring them. It would be better to assign the new wing entirely to this office, or remove the museum into it. Under any circumstances the models, if they are to be properly disposed of and arranged for exhibition, as the law requires they should be, must be placed on the upper floor on account of light. When the west wing is completed, it is doubtful if there would be sufficient light to examiner the objects in the cases were they to remain on the present or first floor. They are partially obscured now, and would then be much more so. In conclusion, I have no hesitation in saying that, in view of the rapidly increasing business of the office, the present building will, in my opinion, be found wholly insufficient for the purposes of this bureau in three or four years, if not sooner. The papers accompanying your letter are herewith returned.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thos. Ewbank

Hon. Alex. H.H. Stuart
Secretary of the Interior

The number of models at present in the office is nearly 20,000. The yearly accumulation exceeds 2,000; so that in ten years, the number cannot be estimated at less than 50,000, since the annual increase of the last four years has been between two and three hundred.

If the largest and best portion of the original building is still to be occupied with the collection of the Exploring Expedition, and if a moiety only of the new wing be accorded to this office, I submit that the $211,000 withdrawn from the Patent fund, and expended on the wing, be returned; since, after the payment of that sum, the office will have no more room than what is admitted belonged to it before.

Were the Patent fund held sacred for the direct encouragement of science and art, and the interest expended in premiums for inventions and discoveries of national importance, (as suggested in the report of 1849,) it would be a fruitful and enduring source of honor and of benefits to the Union. I believe it of more importance to the country to preserve that fund intact, and to expend the interest as suggested, than to have a stately structure in which to transact the business of the office.

3. Increase of clerical force. With the exception of two, authorized by the act of 1848, there have been no permanent clerks added to this office since its reorganization in 1836; while the duties of those employed have increased more than three fold during that period. They are, consequently, over-tasked, and inadequately paid. I would, therefore, respectfully and most earnestly ask Congress to authorize the employment of four additional permanent clerks, at salaries of $1,200, to be assigned to such service as may be deemed necessary by the Commissioner for the despatch of the public business. Some of the duties for which these clerks are designed are now performed by persons employed under the act of 1837. They are not qualified officers, but necessarily admitted to the secret archives, and other business requiring care and responsibility. These places, it is believed, should be filled by permanent clerks, sworn and qualified as such.

As examples of the necessity of permanent aid and increased compensation to certain branches of business, the duties of some of the officers whose desks are over-tasked are here referred to, by extracts taken from a report made by the Commissioner to the Secretary of the Interior, in September, last, in obedience to a resolution of the Senate of the 7th of March, 1851, in relation to the classification of clerks, and "apportioning their salaries according to their services," with slight alterations, in which he recommended --

First. That the salary of the Chief Clerk of this bureau be increased to two thousand dollars per annum. This increase would only place the chief clerk of the Patent Office on an equality with those of other bureaus who receive a reasonable compensation, and who are exempt from the necessity of giving bonds, with surety, for faithful performance of duty, required by the chief clerk of this office.

Besides his heavy clerical and administrative duties, the entire business of the office passes through his hands, receiving its appropriate direction to the different branches. The duties thus devolving and accumulating upon him, rendered the services of an assistant necessary. This aid, supplied under the act of 1837, authorizing the employment of temporary clerk, is intended, also, to relieve other desks, and the clerkship should be made permanent.

Second. That the salary of the Draughtsman, which is now twelve hundred, be raised to fifteen hundred dollars.

He has charge of the secret archives of the office; the drawings patented and rejected; pending files and evidence in cases of interference; receives applications from the chief clerk, entering them in books kept for that purpose, before they are distributed to the examiners; examines all drawings attached to patents before they go out of the office, and all copies of drawings made for courts or other purposes, besides attending to a large amount of miscellaneous business. It was found impossible, before the increase of the examining corps, for this officer to give his personal attention to these multifarious duties. Accordingly, an assistant was assigned under the act of 1837, whom I recommend to be made a permanent clerk.

Third. The Machinist. The duty of the machinist is to receive, classify, and arrange the models, to exhibit to inventors such classes as may be in the line of their discoveries; furnish the examiners with such as may be required in their examinations; keep records of those patented, suspended and rejected, and to conduct the correspondence relating to models, generally. The number of these interesting proofs of the inventive genius of the country has doubled within a few years, and now amounts to about 21,000. It has long been impossible for one person to meet the demands of this department. An assistant was necessarily appointed some years ago, and paid out of the contingent fund; and as the duties of the assistant are equally responsible with those of the machinist -- he having a knowledge of models of pending applications and others belonging to the secret archives -- he ought to be a sworn officer, and his place a permanent clerkship.

Fourth. That the salary of the Accounting or Disbursing Clerk be increased to $1,500 per annum, and he be required to give bonds.

He has charge of the records of the office -- the patented and withdrawn files; and is required to give information in relation thereto whenever called upon. He is also the accounting and disbursing clerk, and conducts the correspondence in relation to withdrawals; the discharge of which duties involves a heavy responsibility, and requires a person of not only reputable talents, but also of rigid integrity. Seventy or eighty thousand dollars passes through his hands annually, and yet for a salary of $1,200 he assumes all the responsibility of such a trust.

Fifth. That the salary of the Assignment Clerk, who now receives $1,000, be increased to $1,200. When this salary was authorized, the amount was, in a measure, commensurate with the duties performed; but, owing to several changes in the business and personnel of the office, many very important matters have been transferred from other desks to his, making it a very responsible and laborious position. He is charged with the preparation of all certificates for copies of records, files, etc., conducts the correspondence respecting copies, transfers of patent rights, and miscellaneous inquiries, and receives and account for the fees paid for copies and for recording deeds. In miscellaneous correspondence, which pertains to his desk, questions often arise involving preliminary legal points, requiring a competent knowledge of the patent law, as well as a thorough acquaintance with the practice of the office.

4. Librarian -- The library is an indispensable element in transacting the business of the office; and it is essential that it keep pace with the advancement of science and the arts, abroad as well as at home. As its importance and contents daily increase, it is desirable that a salary be attached to the librarianship commensurate with the services required; one sufficient to engage a person whose habits, education, and tastes, fit him for the position. Besides cataloguing, collating, and indexing the books, he might keep a digest of patents as they are issued, and post up materials for and aid the Commissioner in the preparation of the annual report. He should understand the German and French languages. I would recommend that the salary be made permanent, and not less than $1,200.

5. Patent laws -- It is believed that a registry law might be beneficially substituted for the law relating to designs. It would be more comprehensive, and better calculated to secure the objects sought, than the law at present in force.

I would recommend that in all cases where a patent is granted, upon proof that the applicant invented it prior to the issue of a patent granted before the application, or prior to a publication of the same invention made before said application, or prior to the use of the same by others before the filing of said application, said patent shall take the date of the earliest patent, the earliest publication, or the earliest use of said invention.

I would also recommend that, for the purpose of diminishing litigation, a system of cumulative damages and cumulative costs be authorized, depending upon the number of times a patent has been affirmed or invalidated before a court of competent jurisdiction. It is believed that such a system will, to a great extent, prevent calling the validity of patents in question for mere purposes of vexation, and will also check the bringing of suits upon invalid patents for the purpose of procuring unjust tribute through fear of litigation. No plan has occurred to me which I consider so well calculated to check unnecessary and vexatious litigation under patents.

6. Judge of appeals -- The infirm health of the venerable chief justice of the District of Columbia, renders it necessary for Congress to make early provision for giving appellate jurisdiction over the decisions of the office.

In submitting the following letter from the chief justice, I feel it my duty again to call the attention of Congress to the total inadequacy of the compensation allowed by the act of 1837 for the services therein prescribed.

My immediate predecessor, in the report of 1847, uses the following language in reference to this officer: "From that time (March 3, 1837) down to the present, many appeals have been taken from the decisions of the Commissioner and decided by the chief justice, who has sustained his decisions by able and elaborate opinions, involving important principles of patent law." These opinions were published by Congress; they constitute the most valuable body of decisions on our present patent laws; are respected as authority in all our courts; and evince the high integrity, profound learning, and great industry of their author.

For these labors his only pecuniary compensation was $100 per annum; whereas single cases have occurred wherein a larger sum would have been inadequate. I respectfully suggest that an additional sum be allowed Judge Cranch out of the patent fund, as an acknowledgement of the important services he has rendered to this office.

Letter of Judge Cranch

Washington, D.C., December 15, 1851

Dear Sir:
I am unable, by reason of great age, sickness, and infirmity, to discharge the duties imposed upon me by the patent laws of the United States.

I have, therefore, petitioned Congress to repeal such parts of those laws as require me to hear and determine appeals from the decisions of the Commissioner of Patents.

My memorial is, I believe, referred by the Senate to the Committee on the Judiciary.

I suppose some substitute will be required for the provisions which may be repealed.

With great respect, I am, dear sir, your obedient servant.

W. Cranch

Hon. Thomas Ewbank
Commissioner of Patents

7. Analytical and descriptive Index of Inventions -- Respecting this great desideratum, I beg to refer to my Report for 1849, page 516; to repeat the recommendations and to urge the appropriation therein named, for the commencement of such a compilation. Its importance, utility and necessity are becoming more and more apparent. No state paper and no mere human volume can ever surpass it in immediate and enduring value. A greater boon to inventors, to science, and to the world at large, could hardly be named. It would be consulted as long as the arts are cherished, and would rather increase than diminish in interest as time rolls on.

If the cost of printing it be deemed an objection, a fair manuscript copy would be of great value to the examiners, and above all price to inventors and others, who should have access to it in person, or through their agents.

8. Chemical apparatus for the use of the office -- In the chemical branch of the examining department the furniture of a small laboratory is much needed, to enable the examiner to verify or disprove alleged ingredients and results of applicants for patents for materials, processes and compounds. Section sixth of the act of 1836 provides that every applicant for a chemical patent shall accompany his application "with specimens of ingredients and of the composition of matter, sufficient in quantity for the purpose of experiment." Hitherto no means of testing such specimens have been provided, although obviously within the meaning of the law. The increasing number of applications belonging to this class and their alleged importance render it highly desirable, and indeed indispensable, that the examiner should have at hand the means of arriving at correct and definite decisions. It is therefore proposed to have a room fitted up as a laboratory, and that the Commissioner be authorized to procure the requisite apparatus, at an expense no exceeding $800.

9. Reports of the office illustrated -- It is very desirable that these documents should be rendered more practically useful to inventors, and to others interested in the progress of the arts. They are essentially defective in descriptions of devices patented, such descriptions being confined to the claims, the full meaning of which can seldom be understood for want of details and drawings. To publish the specifications in extenso would swell the annual exposition into several large volumes; but if simple and neat engraved illustrations were introduced along with the claims, a moderate addition only would be made to the volume now devoted to inventions. Let a small but clear outline engraving be given of each patented invention -- that is, of the peculiar portion covered by the claim -- and every person consulting the reports would understand the precise nature of the inventions at once, and consequently be prevented from repeating them. As long, therefore, as the specifications and drawings are not published in full, it would be a decided improvement, and in a majority of cases all that is wanted to convey a correct idea of the devices patented, to accompany each "claim" with a neat and lucid wood-cut illustration. Nearly every inventor would be glad to supply one, and few would object to a provision made by law, requiring one, or an electrotype cast of one, to be furnished by each patentee. They might be, and in general ought to be, confined to the features patented, so that seldom more than half a page would be taken up, while in a majority of cases one-third of a page, or even less, would suffice.

The insertion of such illustrations would make the reports much more popular and useful. They would impart greatly increased and more definite information, and would save many an inventor an inconvenient outlay of time and money in travelling to Washington to examine the models in the Patent Office. The reports would be more carefully preserved, both in public and private libraries, and more frequently consulted by inventors and others.

As regards the style or workmanship in which the office reports are got up, I beg to suggest that a much smaller number than what is usually printed would be preferable, in nearly every point of view, provided they were issued in respectable and enduring volumes. As permanent records, ten thousand copies, got up in a style creditable to the office and to the country, would be more valuable and do more service than ten times the number of the usual character. Instead of being rapidly consumed as waste-paper, they would be preserved in both private and public libraries. A complete set is not now to be had; and it is doubtful if a dozen sets are in existence; (there are none in the office of a date prior to 1845) This is believed to be chiefly, if not wholly, due to the inferior quality of the paper and printing -- to the unattractive and unsubstantial dress in which they have been sent forth.

If inventions are fraught with consequences of the highest import to the well-being of society and honorable to the people that originate them, descriptions of them are worthy of preservation; and the more so since every new application of science and every addition to art has a lasting value. Tomes of the early printers are extant, and their pages appear fresh as when struck off, promising to outlive most of modern works. Few, if any, of our Patent Office reports will be found on book-shelves four centuries hence -- their materials will have perished; [fn.: A large edition of an English classic disappeared in thirty years, from the corroding action of chlorine used in bleaching the paper.] while there is no room to doubt that thousands of volumes printed in the fifteenth century will be consulted in the twenty-fifth. The annual reports of a bureau so intimately allied with the mechanical progress as this is, ought, in some degree, to correspond with the present state of the arts connected with book making. Our ministers abroad have often felt ashamed when comparing some of our documents with those of foreign governments. Of the 500 copies of the Report of 1849, Part 1, which the Senate authorized the undersigned to have printed, at a cost not exceeding fifty-five cents each, some were forwarded to American embassies abroad. The secretary of the legation at London, in acknowledging the receipt of a parcel, expressed his gratification at being furnished with a national document which he could exhibit without blushing.

It is the practice of nearly every public library to have its volumes bound in one uniform style; but with bound Patent Office reports this could not be done without cutting away the text, in consequence of the small portion of margin left by official binders; hence unbound are often preferred to bound copies. As the public binding is not calculated to be durable, it would be a decided improvement if the margin left by the binders were required to be not less than five-eights or three-quarters of an inch in width.

10. International exchanges -- It is proper, in this place, to acknowledge the obligations of the office to M. Alexandre Vattemare, the well known founder of the system of international exchanges, for valuable contributions to its library, and for collections of foreign seeds.

The "Annales des Ponts et Chaussees," a journal containing the transactions of the corps of topographical engineers in France, and "Annales des Mines," a journal devoted to mining and metallurgic operations, have been received from him entire; also, the continuation, for several years past, of the "Brevets d'Invention," containing descriptions of patents granted in France, together with various works upon agriculture, chemistry, etc., received, through his agency, from individuals and scientific societies in France.

A series of specimens of Algerian soils and products, prepared by order of the Secretary of War of France, together with a collection of the agricultural productions of France, prepared by Mons. A. Vilmorin at the request of the Central Agricultural Society, have been received through Mons. Vattemare; but as it was understood that they were intended for the Department of the Interior, they have been handed over to the Secretary of that department, who has made mention of them in his late report accompanying the messages of the President to Congress.

11. Examiners' reports -- These have been omitted, partly on account of the pressure of business on the examiners' desks, but principally because complaints have been made of partiality in the selections of inventions noticed. To avoid this, all must be mentioned or none. These reports necessarily made invidious distinctions in regard to the relative importance and merits of devices patented. Such distinctions doubtless exist, but the duty of pointing them out does not attach to this office. They have been a fruitful source of complaint, of charges of partiality, and even corruption; and although such charges are to be expected under any circumstances, it is inexpedient for the office to travel out of its path to invite them.


Financial and Statistical

The number of applications for patents received during the year ending December 31, 1851, is two thousand two hundred and fifty-eight; the number of caveats filed during the same period is seven hundred and sixty; being an increase of applications over last year of sixty-five, and of caveats one hundred and fifty-eight.

The number of patents issued during the year 1851 is eight hundred and sixty-nine, including twenty five reissues, three additional improvements, and ninety designs. Three disclaimers were entered during the year.

Within the year 1851, four hundred and thirty eight patents have expired, a list of which is annexed, marked H. There were fifteen applications made during the year to extend patents, the terms of which were about to expire; which, with five pending applications at the close of last year, made twenty cases to be considered. Of these, nine were granted and eleven rejected. None have been extended by Congress during the year.

The receipts of the office for the year 1851, on account of applications for patents, caveats, additional improvements, reissues, extensions, recording assignments, powers of attorney, etc., and for copies, amount to $95,738.61, as per statement marked A; being an increase over the receipts of last year of $8,811.56.

The expenses of the office for the year 1851 are as follows, viz: For salaries, $33,719.73; contingent expenses, $11,533.81; books for the library, $1,183.32; temporary clerks, $14,391.12; agricultural statistics, $4,937.84; refunding money paid by mistake, $186.77; compensation of librarian, $250; chief justice of the District of Columbia sitting on appeals from Commissioner of Patents, $100; on applications withdrawn, $20,614.34, as per statement marked B; leaving a balance to be carried to the credit of the Patent fund of $8,821.68, as per statement marked C.

On the 1st day of January, 1851, the amount of money in the treasury to the credit of the Patent fund was $15,331.27; to which add the excess of receipts over expenditures for the year, $8,821.68, leaves a balance in the treasury to the credit of the Patent fund, on the 1st day of January, 1852, of $24,152.95, as per statement D.

There were one hundred and sixty nine cases on the examiners' desks on the 1st of January, 1851; the number of applications received during the year, two thousand two hundred and fifty eight; making the whole number of applications before the office during the year two thousand four hundred and twenty seven. Of this number, one hundred and fifty five remained unexamined on the 1st day of January, 1852.

The business of the office for the past year shows the examination of two thousand two hundred and seventy two applications, resulting in the issue of eight hundred and sixty nine patents and one thousand four hundred and three rejections and suspensions, as exhibited per statement E.

A statement is also appended, showing the amount of fees received, applications and caveats filed, during each month of the year, marked F.



Statement of receipts for patents, caveats, additional 

improvements, recording assignments, etc., and for copies.

Amount received for patents, caveats, reissues, 

  and additional improvements                          $89,022.00

Amount received for recording assignments, etc. 

  and for copies                                         6,716.61


Total                                                   95,738.61




Statement of expenditures and payments made from the Patent Fund by the
Commissioner of Patents, from January 1, 1851, to January 1, 1852, under the
acts of Congress making provision for the expenses of the Patent
Office, viz:


For salaries                                           $33,719.73

For contingent expenses                                 11,533.81

For books for library                                    1,183.32

For temporary clerks                                    14,391.12

For refunding money paid by mistake                        186.77

For withdrawals                                         20,614.34

For compensation of librarian                              250.00

For compensation of district judge                         100.00

For collecting agricultural statistics, viz:

  Salary paid agricultural clerk 

    ($500 due for 1850)                   $2,500.00

  Salary paid assistant, Mr. Fogg            222.15

  Amount for copying report                  501.69

  Amount paid for seeds, stationery, etc.  1,714.01

                                          _________      4,937.85




    In the above sum of $86,916.94, which shows an increased expenditure
 for the year 1851 over that of 1850 and former years, is embraced --

The salaries of two principal and two assistant 

  examiners, authorized at the last session of 

  Congress, at the rate of $8,000 per annum for 

  nine months                                           $6,000.00

The excess of expenditure for the agricultural 

  desk over last year                                    1,078.49

Besides these extraordinary expenditures, the 

  withdrawals of applications have been unusually 

  large, exceeding the amount of those of last year 

  -- which was greater than any preceding year -- 

  the sum of                                             @,601.01




    This sum of $9,679.50 deducted from the whole expenditure,
 $86,916.93, and the ordinary expenses of the office for the year 1851
 is shown to be only $77,237.43  -- $2,863.52 less as compared with
 the expenses of last year.



Statement of receipts and expenditures of the Patent Office for the year

Amount received from all sources                       $95,738.61

Amount of expenditures of all kinds                     86,916.93


Amount carried to the credit of Patent fund for 1851     8,821.68



Patent Fund, January 1, 1851

Amount of fund, January 1, 1851                        $15,331.27

Amount carried to patent fund for 1851                   8,221.68


Amount remaining in the treasury to the credit of 

  the Patent Fund January 1, 1852                       24,152.95



Statement of applications on hand January 1, 1851, and number 

received during the year and acted upon

Number of cases on examiners' desks January 1, 1851           169

Number of applications received in 1851                     2,258


   Number of cases before the office during the year        2,427

Number of patents issued during the year       869

Number of applications remaining unexamined   155

Number of rejections and suspensions         1,403

                                             _____          2,427



Statement showing amount of fees received and number of
 applications and caveats filed during each month of the year

Month   Cash    Certifics   Small     Total      Appls    Caveats

        Recd    Recd        fees      Recd       Filed    Filed


Jan  $2,860.00  $3,845.00   $477.97   $7,182.97    183     78

Feb   4,095.00   5,340.00    549.06    9,984.06    211     93

Mar   3,650.00   5,159.00    982.45    9,782.45    237     72

Apr   3,195.00   4,021.00    531.92    7,747.92    184     73

May   3,669.00   4,835.00    419.78    8,953.78    218     52

Jun   3,487.00   5,475.00    635.59    9,579.59    187     50

Jul   3,310.09   2,725.00    524.44    6,559.44    178     61

Aug   2,745.00   2.810.00    358.37    5,913.37    141     52

Sep   4,400.00   3,110.00    669.15    8,179.15    229     55

Oct   4,225.00   2,955.00    401.30    7,581.30    150     64

Nov   4,465.00   2,855.00    428.73    7,748.73    171     49

Dec   2,725.00   3,045.00    737.85    6,507.85    169     61

     _________  _________  ________  __________  _____    ___

Tot  42,826.00  46,196.00  6,716.61   95,738.61  2,258    760

Table exhibiting the business of the office for the last
 eleven years, and the necessity of an increase of permanent
 clerical forces

Years  Appls    Caveats    Patents    Amt of     Amt of

       Filed    Filed      Issued     Cash       Cash 

                                      Recd       Expended

1841     847      312        495     $40,413.01  $23,065.87

1842     761      291        517      36,505.68   31,241.43

1843     819      315        531      35,315.81   30,776.96

1844   1,045      389        502      42,509.26   36,344.73

1845   1,246      452        502      51,076.14   39,295.65

1846   1,272      448        619      50,264.16   46,158.71

1947   1,531      533        572      63,111.19   41,878.35

1848   1,628      607        660      67.576.69   58,905.84

1849   1,955      595      1,076      80,752.78   77,716.44

1850   2,193      602        295      86,927.05   80,100.95

1851   2,258      760        869      95,738.61   86,916.93

The foregoing statistics exhibit a very large increase of business in this office for the last eleven years; and by reference to the table it will be seen that the increase for 1851 is in full proportion with the former years. This accumulation of business has been provided for from time to time by Congress, in authorizing necessary additions to the examining force. This force for the present is deemed sufficient. But there are still departments of the business and labor of the office which have increased in a corresponding ratio with the examinations, and no provision made by Congress to relieve them. Hence the suggestions in relation to the increase of clerical force, in the preceding pages.

Table showing the number of patents, reissues, designs, and additional improvements granted at the Patent Office in Washington during each month of the year 1851

                       J  F  M  A  M  J  J  A  S  O  N  D   Total

Total Patents          56 38 46 64 57 57 81 60 75 76 72 69    751

Reissues                5  2  6  1  5  1  2        1  1  1     25

Designs                 7  4 10  8  8 12 15  1 11  5  5  4     90

Addl Improvements                   1           1     1         3

Extensions                                                      9

Disclaimers                                                     3

Not included in

this table             __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __    ___

                       68 44 62 73 71 70 98 61 87 82 79 74    869

Table showing the number of patents issued to citizens of different states during the year 1851

State                 No

Maine                  9

Vermont               12

New Hampshire         17

Massachusetts        121

Rhode Island           9

Connecticut           53

New York             235

New Jersey            15

Pennsylvania          77

Delaware               3

Maryland              10

Virginia               8

North Carolina         2

South Carolina         4

Georgia                8

Alabama                2

Mississippi            1

Louisiana              4

Arkansas              --

Tennessee              4        Patents, reissues, designs

Kentucky               8        and additional improvements are

Ohio                  76        all included in this table

Michigan               5

Indiana               13

Illinois              10

Missouri               8

Florida               --

Texas                  2

Iowa                   2

Wisconsin              4

District of Columbia  11

Foreign               18


Total                869



Papers and Abstracts relating to Early American Inventions

From the Archives of the States

No returns have been received under this head during the past year. This is to be regretted, as there is reason to believe much interesting matter still remains unexplored in State and municipal documents, and in the collections of societies and individuals. With the view of reminding statesmen, historical and archaeological societies, and citizens at large, of the importance of embodying the desired information in the Reports of this Office, for the use of future historians of the arts, their attention is again invited to the Circulars, issued on the subject, the one marked [A] to Governors of States and Territories, and [B] to members of Congress.


The United States Patent Office

Sir: Endeavoring to trace up the history of American inventions as a duty appertaining to this Bureau, and supposing that interesting facts may lie hidden in the archives of the various States, particularly in the records of patents, of which some are known to have been granted under colonial rule, and others by more or less of the States, previous to their conceding the right to the general government, I respectfully request to be furnished with copies of any such documents as may be on file in the State Department of your State, the expense of which will be cheerfully borne by this Office.

It is well known that the application of machinery to many branches of art was begun, and has been brought to its present degree of perfection, almost solely by the ingenuity and labors of our countrymen. I need hardly instance the working of lumber, improvements in ploughs, the cut nail and card making mechanism; yet definite information respecting these and other inventions, while in their infancy, is entirely wanting.

It is necessary that this Office should possess information on these points, the law clearly requiring, though not in express terms, that descriptions of all known inventions should be within reach, that patents may not be granted for things previously secured. Irrespective of the light they will reflect on the origin of inventions to which they relate, and early struggles of inventors, an increasing interest will be attached to them as matters of enlightened curiosity.

Information respecting the forms of patents, length of time for which they were granted, fees paid, etc., will be highly acceptable, as also anything relating to the early progress of the arts in your State.

In case no official documents of the kind are on file, may I beg the favor of your referring the subject to any literary or scientific society, or to private individuals who may be in possession of the information sought.

With sentiments of high regard, I have the honor to be your obedient servant,

Thomas Ewbank, Commissioner

His Excellency ---------, Governor of -------

[Note -- It is not known that patents were issued for inventions in Louisiana by the French, or in Florida, Texas, and New Mexico by the Spaniards; but if any were granted, copies of them would be of unusual interest.]


United States Patent Office

Sir: A copy of the accompanying Circulars has been addressed to each of the governors of the States and Territories of the Union, and I respectfully solicit your co-operation in furthering the objects sought to be accomplished. Whatever assistance or advice your more important engagements may permit you to give, will be highly appreciated.

There are, it is believed, among your constituents, descendants of old inventors and patentees, who, having documents of the kind referred to in their possession, would be glad to have them filed in this Office, and noticed in its Reports, as an act of justice to the ingenuity and memories of their ancestors.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of high regard, your obedient servant,

Thomas Ewbank

Hon. -----

[This report also includes a lengthy section entitled "Information to persons having Business to Transact at the United States Patent Office." It is not copied here. KWD]


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