Collecting, cleaning, displaying, researching, and appreciating TRIVETS and related go-withs!
A patent protects a product, design or process that meets certain criteria for originality, practicality, suitability, and/or utility. The patent process starts at the time a patent application is submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and ends when the patent is granted or denied.
The first US patent, issued in 1790, was approved by the newly formed Patent Commission consisting of the Secretary of State, Secretary of War and Attorney General. It was then signed by President George Washington.
Blodget’s Hotel was built in 1793 and destroyed by an accidental fire in 1836.
Public domain image, courtesy of the Library of Congress.
On December 15, 1836 a devastating fire occurred at Blodgett’s Hotel, home of the US Patent Office in Washington, DC. At that time patents were not numbered, and there were no permanent records of the patents or patent models housed within. As a result of those losses, a new system was implemented. All subsequent patents were numbered, beginning with the U.S. Patent Number 1. As for the earlier patents:
In all, it is believed that around 10,000 patents drawings and around 7,000 patent models were lost in the fire. Of these, 2,845 of these patents have been restored, meaning that the inventor resubmitted a drawing to the patent office. These early patents, issued between 1790 and 1836, are now referred to as “X-Patents” (denoting their serial numbers, which all include the letter “X”) and currently reside in the holding of the Cartographic Branch of the National Archives, located in College Park, MD. “Recalling the Devastating Patent Office Fire of 1836.” National Archives: The Unwritten Record, unwritten-record-blogs.archives.gov, December 13, 2018.
Many collectors are interested in researching patent applications for irons and trivets. Thank goodness for Google Patents, which has indexed more than 87 million patents and patent applications from around the world. Two types of patents are of special interest:
● A Utility patent is a technical document that teaches the public how to use a new machine, process, or system. It can be searched using keywords. Utility patents filed before June 8, 1995 offered patent protection for 17 years. After that date, Utility patents have a term of 20 years from the earliest filing date of the application on which the patent was granted.
● A Design patent protects an ornamental design on a useful item. The document itself is almost entirely made of pictures or drawings of the design, making it more difficult to search because few words are used. A Design patent is generally granted protection for 14 years, measured from the date the design patent is granted.
Until 2011 inventors marked their patented items in the traditional way, as Patent No. or Pat. No., followed by the number. Since 2011, inventors now have the option of virtual patent marking. In this new system the patent owner replaces the traditional marking with a freely accessible public internet address. All relevant patent numbers for the inventor are listed at that URL.
A few examples with assigned Patents:
1. Universal Tool Patent 241,893 was assigned on May 24, 1881 to William H. Thayer of Cleveland, Ohio. In his patent application Thayer stated “My invention relates to implements for handling stove-lids, pots, dishes, and kitchen utensils generally, the device being also adapted for use as a support for flat irons, coffee-pots, and as a meat-tenderer.” Thayer’s Universal Tool.
2. Ironing Stand Patent 438,039 was assigned on October 7, 1890 to William Walters of Findlay, Ohio. “I have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Ironing-Stands. I am aware that a pivoted stand for holding sad-irons has heretofore been contemplated in which the body or that portion upon which the iron rests and the support for the same have been made in one piece or rigid with each other, and the support pivoted to the table.”
3. Fluting Device & Stand Patent 768,072 was assigned on August 23, 1904 to Horace S. Pease of Cincinnati, Ohio. Pease designed a charcoal iron that served double duty as a fluting iron.
● For ironing: the stand supports the charcoal iron when placed flat.
● For fluting: when placed at the edge of an ironing board with the tip down, the stand supports the side mounted fluter. The rocker portion of the fluter, attached to the wooden handle, lifts off when the pin is released.
4. Sad Iron Stand Patent 873,779 was assigned on December 17, 1907, also to Horace S. Pease of Cincinnati, Ohio. “My invention relates to improvements in sad iron stands adapted to support sad irons which are heated with charcoal and the like. The object of my invention is to secure a more convenient and efficient stand for sad irons.”
5. Trivet Hot Plate Patent 2,686,862 was assigned on August 17, 1954 to two men from Wisconsin: David Morrison of Two Rivers and Jurg A. Senn of Manitowoc, assignors to the Paragon Electric Company, Two Rivers, WI. “This invention relates to a trivet hot plate. In the past, trivets have been used solely for the support of previously heated vessels. Undue heating of the trivet and its handle will not occur.” The newspaper ad (above) for the Paragon Electric Trivet was published in 1954.
By marking an item as patent pending or patent applied for, an inventor could launch their product while hopefully discouraging copyright infringement.
● A Provisional patent proves the inventor has produced the invention and determined it works. Once on file, the invention is Patent Pending. However, if the inventor fails to file a formal Utility patent within a year from filing the provisional patent, they will lose this filing date.
Most applications are in pending status for one to three years. In some cases a permanent patent is never assigned. Currently it is impossible in the United States to track a patent application.
Under current U.S. law, the Patent and Trademark Office keeps a patent application in confidence. In 1952, Congress codified the rule of secrecy of patent applications, which had existed in the Patent Office for generations. This veil of secrecy exists until the Patent Office grants a patent. Congress, however, presently is considering abandoning this practice in favor of a system that mandates publication of each patent application eighteen months after the first filing date. The United States is the only major country in the world that does not publish pending patent applications within eighteen months of the first filing date. Balzan, Christopher. “Mandatory Publication of Patent Applications Prior to Issuance of Patents: A Desirable Change in U.S. Policy.” Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review, digital commons.lmu.edu, December 01, 1995.
A few examples marked Patent Pending:
6. N. Y. Volunteer Firemens Association horseshoe plaque trivet, circa 1880s, signed DESIGN PAT APPL’D FOR BY C. J. HOAG on the reverse. To learn more about horseshoe plaque trivets, see my blog post Merry Christmas 1888 HP Trivet.
7. The Champion Stand is the companion piece to the Champion Self Heating Sad Iron; both are quite rare. Patent 445,927 was assigned to the self heating iron on February 3, 1891. As for the stand, it’s labeled PAT. PDNG. on the reverse. The 1990 reference Trivets and Stands, p. 216 states “Cup on handle for wax to keep iron from sticking.” For a second opinion, I asked pressing iron collector and author Dave Irons who replied “I think the small cup on the trivet is a drip catcher for the fuel line.” This sad iron stand is marked PAT. PDNG. on the reverse.
8. Six In One Universal Household Tool, Park Novelty Company, Baltimore, Maryland; circa early 1900s. There are two versions of this trivet; both are marked PAT PEND on the reverse. The early magazine ad (above) illustrates the various uses for the tool, one of which is “Iron Stand”. The Six In One trivet.
9. Hutchins Clamp Iron-Stand, Buffalo, NY. This adjustable sad iron stand would have attached to an ironing board or table top, providing a convenient place to rest a hot iron. The hole near the top of the sad iron stand accepted a flat top slotted screw that secured the stand to the clamp. A tight fit to the ironing board or table edge was controlled by the eye bolt underneath. Hutchins Clamp Iron-Stand
● PS: I’m always interested in discovering patents for trivets and sad iron stands! Please Contact Me with any others you may be aware of.
Added 1/18/21: According to Scott Price, regarding how old a casting might be, remember that “Right around 1898 there was a change from Pat Apl’d For to Pat Applied For.”
Added 1/15/20: Gallery Image 2f. On the attachment piece is the inscription PAT OCT 7 90. This image is provided courtesy of George Kyle of the Esk-Ironz Museum, New Zealand’s Largest Collection of Laundry Irons and related memorabilia. Read the article on the Esk-Ironz Museum in the PITCA Pressing News’ March 2018 Issue.
Added 2/02/20: Gallery Images 10 a-e. Stand for Sad-Irons Patent 11,206 was assigned on May 27, 1879 to L. & W. H. Berger. Cast iron in a honeycomb design with patent date on the handle front. Note that this design inspired the JZH “W” Alphabet Trivet reproduction produced in 1948.
The numbers in the Gallery correspond with the examples above.
Clicking the first image will open a Slideshow. There are controls at the bottom of each screen to enlarge the image to full resolution. Click again (+) to zoom in.