DATING YOUR COLLECTIBLES WITH PATENT NUMBERS

1998 DIGGER ODELL PUBLICATIONS

Collectors frequently want to find out about the history of the pieces they collect. One rich source of information is found in the United State Patent Office which registers invention patents, design patents, trademark registrations, and label registrations. If your collectible has a patent number then information about its history is recorded.

Most any large city library will have a complete set of these documents, the most useful to bottle collectors is the Patent Office Official Gazette . All of the patents, designs, trademarks and labels were recorded in a document known as the Official Gazette . These were published weekly, and bound into hard bound volumes by the year. By the later part of the 19th century, it required anywhere from two to four volumes to list and describe all of the issuances for a given year.

The amount of bottle related information thaty can be found in the Official Gazette is astonishing. There are perhaps 10,000 items relating to insulators, fruit jars, medicines, mineral waters, beers, whiskeys, perfumes and hundreds of other items.

What Patent Numbers Mean

The first Patent Act was signed into effect by George Washington on April 10, 1790. Three and a half months later, on July 31, 1790, the first U.S. patent for a Method Of Making Pot Ash Useful In Soap Production was issued to Samuel Hopkins of Philadelphia.

The word "patent" is a general term which can refer to a number of different things. Invention patents were methods of manufacturing, formulae, machines and the like. Patents were granted in this country as far back as 1790, but the first numbered patent was issued to Senator John Ruggles as the inventor of a locomotive steam engine. By 1871, over 100,000 had been issued.

Often a number will be found on a collectible. Very often this number will be an invention patent number such as might be found on a bottling capping apparatus.

In observing a number on a collectible, we are not always looking at a patent number. If the number has a D in front of it, this designates it as a design number. However, few design numbers carry this identification. Often looking at the piece will determine the difference.

A third type of number sometimes found on collectibles but more often on labels attached to same, is a trademark registry number, or numbers. The purpose of a registered trade mark was to grant exclusive right to a coined, fanciful, suggestive, or "inventive" mark. A monogram such as L.S.C. for the Larkin Soap Company would be an example of this.

Many bottles have the words "Patent Applied For," "Patented," "Trademark," or "Design Patd", "Copyright." Some time a date will appear, or a number which can be looked up in the Official Gazette . The table shown below gives the numbers that were assigned to Patents, Designs, and Trademarks up to 1940. The table was compiled by Arleta Rodrigues.

The law governing Trademarks went into effect in1872, but several were issued prior to that date. The law gave certain rights to individuals who registered a design, or name for a period of twenty years, after which time they were renewable. The table shows that by 1900 over thirty-three thousand had been issued.

Design Patents became patentable in the year 1842, the first one was granted for a style of printing type. Design patents were granted for a number of unusual bottles. Figurals, nursers, and many styles of pharmaceutical and chemical bottles are listed.

Labels were apparently granted registration rights the same year as trademarks. Descriptions of these can be found in the Official Gazette .

For each entry in the Official Gazette there is information about the product and person requesting the patent, design, trademark or label. In the case of patents and designs, detailed drawings and descriptions are given. For trademarks and labels, the name of the product, years in use, person requesting the patent, and the essential feature of the item were described in an abstract for each registration granted. Beginning in the 1890s, the trademarks were actually reproduced in the Official Gazette. All issuances were given a number and can be located in the Gazette by those numbers. The example at the right is a trademark registration.

TABLE OF PATENT NUMBERS

USE THIS TABLE TO DATE YOUR COLLECTIBLES. FIND THE PATENT NUMBER AND CORRESPONDING DATE.

DATE

PATENT#

DESIGN#

TRADEMARK#

1836

1    

1837

110

   

1838

546

   

1839

1,061

   

1840

1,465

   

1841

1,923

   

1842

2413

   

1843

2,901

1

 

1844

3,395

15

 

1845

3,873

27

 

1846

4,348

44

 

1847

4,914

103

 

1848

5.409

163

 

1849

5.993

209

 

1850

6,981

258

 

1851

7,865

341

 

1852

8,622

431

 

1853

9,512

540

 

1854

10,358

626

 

1855

12,117

683

 

1856

14,009

753

 

1857

16,324

860

 

1858

19,010

973

 

1859

22,477

1,075

 

1860

26,642

1,183

 

1861

31,005

1,336

 

1862

34.045

1,508

 

1863

37,266

1,703

 

1864

41,047

1,879

 

1865

45,685

2,018

 

1866

51,784

2,239

 

1867

60.658

2,533

 

1868

72,959

2,858

 

1869

85,503

3,304

 

1870

98,460

3,810

1

1871

110,617

4,547

122

1872

122,304

5,452

608

1873

134,504

6,336

1,099

1874

146,120

7,083

1,591

1875

158,350

7,969

2,150

1876

171,641

8,884

3,288

1877

185,813

9,686

4,277

1878

198,733

10,385

5,463

1879

211,078

10,975

6,918

1880

223,211

11,567

7,790

1881

236,137

12,082

8,139

1882

251,685

12,647

8,973

1883

269,820

13,508

9,920

1884

291,016

14,528

10,822

1885

310,163

15,678

11,843

1886

333,494

16,451

12,910

1887

355,291

17,046

13,939

1888

375,720

17,995

15,072

1889

395,305

18,830

16,131

1890

418,665

19,553

17,360

1891

443.987

20,439

18,775

1892

466,315

21,275

20,537

1893

488,976

22,092

22,272

1894

511,744

22,994

23,956

1895

531,619

23,922

25,757

1896

552,502

25,037

27,586

1897

574,369

26,482

29,429

1898

596,467

28,113

31,070

1899

616,871

29,916

32,308

1900

640,167

32,055

33,957

1901

664,827

33,813

35,678

1902

690,385

35,547

37,606

1903

717,521

36,187

39,612

1904

748,567

36,723

41,815

1905

778,834

37,280

43,932

1906

808,618

37,766

48,446

1907

839,799

38,391

59,014

1908

875,679

38,980

66,892

1909

908,436

39,737

72,083

1910

945,010

40,424

76,267

1911

980.178

41,063

80,506

1912

1,013,095

42,073

84,711

1913

1,049,326

43,415

89,931

1914

1,083,267

46,098

94,796

1915

1,123,212

46,813

101,613

1916

1,166,419

48,358

107,875

1917

1,210,389

50,117

114,666

1918

1,251,458

51,629

120,005

1919

1,290,027

52,836

124,066

1920

1,326,899

54,359

128,274

1921

1,364,063

56,844

138,556

1922

1,401,948

60,121

150,210

1923

1,440,362

61,748

163,215

1924

1,478,996

63,675

177,785

1925

1,521,590

66,346

193,597

1926

1,568,040

69,170

207,437

1927

1,612,790

71,772

222,401

1928

1,654,521

74,159

236,987

1929

1,696,897

77.347

251,129

1930

1,742,181

80,254

265,655

1931

1,787,424

82,966

278,906

1932

...... 1,839,390

85,903

290,313

1933

1,892,663

88,847

299,926

1934

1,941,449

91,258

309,066

1935

1,985,878

94,179

320,441

1936

2,026,516

98,045

331,338

1937

2,066,309

102,601

342,070

1938

2,104,004

107,738

353,324

1939

2,142,080

112,765

363,536

1940

2,185,170

118,358

374,062