Nine Inventions Announced in June Newspapers (Pre-1900) - An Engineer's Aspect


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Monday, May 31, 2010

Nine Inventions Announced in June Newspapers (Pre-1900)

1798 - Essence of Mustard Cure

"Edinburgh Advertiser", Edinburgh, Midlothian, June 1, 1798.


The unexampled success which as so eminently attended the use of WHITEHEAD's ESSENCE of MUSTARD in the cure of Rheumatisms, Gout, Lumbago, Palsy, Complaints of the Stomach, Numbness, &c. and the great improvements therein, made by the inventor in the course of four years extensive public experience, has induced him to obtain the King's Letters Patent for his invention, in order to secure his property and guard the public against
It is prepared and sold by the inventor, Mr. R. JOHNSTON. Apothecary, No. 20, Greek Street, Soho, London, in Pills; and also in a liquid state, at 2s. 9d. each box or bottle; and is also sold by his appointment by Mr. A. SMITH, Perfumer, 58, North Bridge Street, Edinburgh; Buchanan and Mennons, Glasgow; T. Cove, Banff; Morrisons, Perth; Crangie, Montrose; Mitchell, Aberdeen; Inglis, Dumfries; Palmer, Kolfe; Mackinworth and Co. Inverness; and by the vendors of medicines in every principal town.

*I'm not sure if I transcribed all of these names correctly.

More light is shed on the "Essence of Mustard" by "The Quack Doctor":
"Whitehead’s Essence was patented in 1798, but had been been around for a few years by then. As I’ve mentioned before, one of the conditions of obtaining a patent was that the inventor had to file a specification detailing how to make the product. No one, however, would necessarily test out the recipe, so it was possible to get away with vague or nonsensical instructions. The author of the 1805 publication Essays on Quackery encountered this when he planned to use patents to find out the composition of various remedies. An acquaintance advised him not to bother: ‘Your recipes on specifications in the patent office will assuredly err, for, although I believe each is given in with the solemnity of an oath, it is doubtful whether any one be true.’

Robert Johnston, owner of the Essence of Mustard, submitted a long and complicated process that would be impossible to replicate without losing the will to live. The Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal called it ‘a motley group of ingredients,’ and The Medical Observer asked ‘Does not the grant of a patent for such a most absurd and ridiculous recipe, casts (sic) an indelible disgrace on our country?’ Rather than granting Johnston a patent, they said, the government should have ‘granted a warrant for taking him into custody, and inflicted on him some condign punishment.’

The real recipe was much simpler – oil of turpentine with spirit of rosemary and camphor, plus a small quantity of flour of mustard. Turpentine had long been used as a remedy for chilblains, so there wasn’t much new about this product, but it was famous enough to be known in the US within a few years of being established. And that’s where an amusing parody appeared in March 1798.

The article in Philadelphia’s Weekly Magazine is purportedly a letter from a farrier who has just discovered a wonderful remedy – Blackhead’s Essence of Pitchfork. The writer first condemns the medical profession for charging a fortune for ‘words and wind’:

Apply to a physician—what does he do for you? He feels your pulse; tells you, what you knew before, that you are sick ; takes the fee ; and then packs you off to the apothecary. How long will people be gulled by these men!

He then goes on to introduce the Essence of Pitchfork:

It has been universally acknowledged, that pitchforks are very useful and essential, but rather irritating and inconvenient when taken in their natural state.

The Essence would cure everything, including wooden legs and drowning, and was available in two forms, ‘viz. Sharp, powerful steel points, for internal use, and hickory staff for external’ - a reference to Whitehead’s being available as both a topical preparation and as pills. The article concludes with these testimonials, mocking the whole breed of advertisers who used exaggerated stories to try and sell their remedies:

I DO hereby solemnly declare and affirm, that, as I was walking up Arch-street in January last, I slipped, and tumbled to pieces: By a judicious and timely application of Blackhead’s Essence of Pitchfork, the parts were gathered together, without the loss of a single member.
Jedediah Scarramouch
March 14, 1798

HAVING died some time ago, to the great grief of my dear wife, she applied Blackhead’s Essence of Pitchfork, in staff, to my poor corse. Symptoms of returning life soon appeared, and in a few weeks I was all alive.
Count Obadiah.
March, 1798.

I DO hereby certify, that I used to be as thin and poor as a snake, and was subject to being drowned. I purchased some of Blackhead’s Essence of Pitchfork, and, in due season, grew as fat as a pig, and have never been drowned since.
Joban Nincum.
March, 1798."

It seems that some inventions are better than others.

1801 - Patent for Improvements in Manufacture of Bagging

"Repertory Of Arts And Manufacturers", London, Middlesex, June 1, 1801, Page 14.


I wish it to be known to those persons who are in the habit of using bagging for which my invention is calculated, that the materials I have described in my specification are peculiarly adapted to give strength and durability to that article. The yarn of which ropes are generally made, particularly king's ropes, is spun from the choicest hemp, and strongly impregnated with tar. The threads taken from the middle of such ropes, not having been exposed either to the weather or to friction, are as sound and as strong as when originally used; and, if not quite equal to new, can be but little inferior. The tarry matter with which these threads are impregnated, renders them peculiarly advantageous in the manufacturing of coal-sacks; the weft being composed of these threads, fine spun, good and strong, adhere firmly to the warp made from hemp in the original way. Sacks made of this cloth are strong, tenacious, and not liable to rent or perish by wet, to which those in present use are particularly subject. The superiority of this invention for nail-bagging is very conspicuous: the weft of those now used is made from the coursest refuse of flax or help that can be procured. The consequence of which is, that the bags frequently perish and burst in carriage, to the great loss of those concerned.

1818 - Invention of certain Improvements on, and in addition to, Machinery or Ploughs for the purpose of under-draining Land

"Monthly Magazine", London, Middlesex, June 1, 1820, Page 437.

New Patents and Mechanical Inventions.

To MR. TEW COWPER, of Biston, by Weedon, for an Invention of certain Improvements on, and in addition to, Machinery or Ploughs for the purpose of under-draining Land.--May, 1818.

The first part of this invention consists of a coulter, with a mole-iron or borer at its bottom, to be lowered into the ground and drawn along, preceded by a circular cutter to relieve its way, and followed by a roller to close the channel made by the cutter and coulter, leaving the channel thus formed by the mole-iron entire at any desired depth below the surface of the ground: which depth is regulated by vertical screws raising or lowering the said cutter and mole-iron in its carriage, assisted, of course, by small wheels or rollers as commonly applied to plough-carriages.

The second part of the invention consists of a standard with a capstan turning horizontally, upon which a chain coils that is to be attached to the plough. This standard is secured by means of an anchor, from shifting its ground, while the capstan bar is carried round by one or more horses as in a mill, or by manual labour; and the draft-chain, as expressed above, winding round the capstan, draws the plough-carriage to which it is attached, with cutter and mole-iron, forward. When this last contrivance is not used, the plough is to be drawn forward by horses as in the common process of ploughing. This invention as applied to hollow or under-draining; viz. the mole-iron with its carriage, and the capstan with its carriage and anchor as a fulcrum, is considered by the patentee to be entirely new, and of which he claims the original invention.

1819 - An Improved Method of Producing or Procuring Sulphate of Soda, Soda, Subcarbonate of Soda, and Muriatic Acid

"Monthly Magazine", London, Middlesex, June 1, 1820, Page 437.

New Patents and Mechanical Inventions.

To MR. H.P. FULLER, of Piccadilly, for an improved Method of producing or procuring Sulphate of Soda, (Glauber's Salts,) Soda, Subcarbonate of Soda, and Muriatic Acid.--Sept. 1819.

The patentee proposes a solution of muriate of soda, (prepared either by dissolving in hot or cold water; or by evaporating sea water; and which solution may contain any quantity of muriate of soda, that is or may be soluble in water:) to be mixed with solution of sulphate of iron, in such quantity that there shall be forty-seven parts and a quarter, or thereabouts, or the sulphate of iron, to twenty parts, or thereabouts, of the muriate of soda. These materials so combined, are to be submitted to heat, so as to evaporate nearly the whole of the water; the remaining mass or quantity is then to be exposed to a full red heat in a retort of cast iron, or of any other material which is capable of bearing the fire, (the particular form or size of the retorts, it is not necessary to describe, as that is not of importance for the performance of the process,) for the purpose of distilling over the muriatic acid, which will be separated by the heat from the aforesaid mass or residue left from the above mentioned solutions of muriate of soda and sulphate of iron; but which solutions, after they have been mixed as above directed, will be found to be changed into solutions of muriate of iron, and sulphate of soda. The muriatic acid is to be received into a condensing receiver, containing any quantity of water: and when the whole of the acid, or nearly so, has been drawn over, the residue, which will be found to contain sulphate of soda, and oxyd of iron, partly or almost entirely, in a nicaceous form, or with some trifling quantity of muriate of soda, muriate of iron, and sulphate of iron, must be dissolved either in hot or cold water, and filtered to separate the oxyd of iron. the mode or modes of dissolving the mass, and filtering the solution, it is not necessary to explain, as any particular mode is unimportant, and the manner of doing it will occur to every one acquainted with such operations. The solution of sulphate of soda is now to be mixed with a solution of caustic, or pure barytes, and then dissolving it in water, in such quantities, that there shall be to every twenty parts of muriate of soda, or thereabouts, used in the first part of the process, twenty-seven parts of muriate of soda, or thereabouts, of pure or caustic barytes: the produce of this will be pure or nearly pure soda and sulphate of barytes. The soda is then to be separated from the sulphate of barytes by filtration or any other method which may be deemed eligible.

1836 - A Hearing Apparatus

"The Courier", The United Kingdom, Wednesday Evening, June 1, 1836.

DEAFNESS.----Mr. WEBSTER begs to announce, that in addition to his Patent Invention called the OTAPHONE, which restores the original shape of the Ear, he has constructed a little Apparatus, perfectly invisible, which renders it more effective in those cases where the imperfection in hearing arises from a deficient secretion of cerumen. Mr. Webster may be consulted daily at 102, New Bond street.

1836 - The Grand Pianoforte

"The Courier", The United Kingdom, Wednesday Evening, June 1, 1836.

ERARD'S GRAND PIANOFORTES.----NEW PATENT.--Notice is hereby given, that his Majesty has been graciously pleased, with the advice of his Privy Council, in consideration of the merits of the invention, and the difficulties encountered by him in

Image: Pierre Erard.

establishing the work, to grant to PIERRE ERARD, of Great Marlborough-street, Harp and Pianoforte Maker to her Majesty and the Royal Family, NEW LETTERS PATENT for his PATENT ACTIONED GRAND PIANOFORTE.

1836 - Metallic Ventilating Hairpieces

"The Courier", The United Kingdom, Wednesday Evening, June 1, 1836.

At this warm season it is of the highest importance to the comfort of all wearers of artificial hair, to provide themselves with the newly invented PATENT METALLIC VENTILATING PERUQUES, HEAD DRESSES, FRONTS, SCALPS, &c. according to their several tastes or necessities. This invention entirely supersedes both weaving and sewing silk in its construction, thereby leaving a free circulation of air to the head, and lessening the weight and consequently the heat most materially. For Ladies' head dresses and fronts, Gentlemen's peruques and scalps, it is decidedly the lightest, coolest, and most novel invention of the kind extent. To be had in the greatest variety only at the Original Emporium, ROSS and SONS, 119 and 120, Bishopsgate-street, where their Grand Neapolitan Saloon, containing a splendid View of the Bay and City of Naples, painted by a distinguished artist, for cutting and arranging the hair in, may be seen.--N.B. From the great complaints made of the Parisian Fronts coming to pieces, Ross and Sons, to remedy this defect now manufacture them themselves on an improved plan.

1881 - New Horse Cars For Streets

"The British Mail", June 1, 1881, Page 471.

[Extract from The Clifton Chronicle.]

GREAT interest and a considerable amount of excitement were created a few days ago in several of the principal thoroughfares of this city, on the occasion of an experimental trip of a new horse car, which has been built by the Bristol Wagon Works Company, at their extensive shops at Lawrence Hill, for the inventor and patentee, Captain Molesworth, R.N.

This car is one of a number that have been ordered by the London Road-Car Company. The chief point of difference between the 'buses at present in use and those designed by Captain Molesworth, is that the latter are supported on two wheels only, with a crank axle, having two strong springs on each side. The wheels are 5 feet in diameter, and not only is greater facility of running obtained by the adoption of this principle, but the vehicle itself is brought much nearer to the ground than is usual, passengers being thereby enabled to step easily and safely from the pavement on a platform ranging alongside, and at the same height as the kerb-stone, from which platform a single low step places them at once upon the level of the carriage floor. An additional great advantage derived from the use of two wheels only is that, when in motion, no matter how uneven and rough the ground may be, or how the load may be distributed, the car glides onward with a gentle, undulating movement most enjoyable when compared with the pitching and vibration experienced in ordinary 'buses. It is also found that by the peculiar application of the "draught" in these patent cars the horses are relieved almost entirely from the terrible strain experienced in starting other conveyances--a point which will commend itself to all who desire to see our humble servants' interests studied and attended to as well as our own. When, however, we speak of two wheels only, we allude merely to the "support" of the carriage; in front, and serving as a kind of foundation on which to erect the driver's seat, are two very much smaller wheels, which, working in a light framework of metal, impart extreme freedom in turning--an object of the highest importance in narrow or crowded thoroughfares. The driving-box is raised above these wheels to such a height as to give the coachman full command over his horses, and to remove him entirely from the possibility of interference on the part of anyone, and yet so that the conductor, standing on the entrance platform immediately behind and beneath, can have instant communication with him in case of need, By the side of the box a convenient set of iron steps lead to the roof of the vehicle, which is thus rendered almost as accessible as the lower seats. In the car experimented upon the other day the roof-seats run the length way of the carriage, but the inventor has subsequently devised what he considers will be a great improvement, namely, that of fixing rows of a kind of garden seats from side to side across the roof, the occupants being thus brought to face the direction in which they are proceeding. There will be rows of two such seats on either side, with a convenient passage down the middle, so that passengers will be able to take or vacate their places with the least possible disturbance of their neighbours. Ample protection against all danger of falling is provided, and a very useful idea is introduced in the shape of battens nailed down at narrow intervals, keeping the feet dry, affording a firmness of footing otherwise unattainable, and also preventing the noise of walking overhead being offensively audible to those inside the carriage. The convenience of the latter, as well as of the outside passengers, has, indeed, been admirably attended to. Strong handles are so fixed in various places as to give every security on entering or quitting the car and, while there is very adequate protection from the weather, there is in addition perfect ventilation. Firmly fastened hand-rods afford steadiness in walking to and fro, even when travelling at the most rapid rate, and the roof-seat being made hollow, and amount of head-room is gained which, added to the extra height obtained by the lowering of the floor, is particularly healthful. The carriage itself is extremely comfortable and commodious, abundance of walking-room being provided, while, as the upper panelling all around is glazed, the occupants can enjoy an uninterrupted view on every side. There is ample seating for twenty-eight persons, and yet, so well considered have been the arrangements, the whole weight of the car is only about twenty-three cwt. We should add that, by means of an ingenious invention, patented especially for use on these cars, the driver can, by merely tightening a cord, completely drag one of the large wheels; the conductor has similar power over the other. Thus either of them is able to apply the drag independently; when he does so, for whatever purpose, his comrade follows the example, and both wheels are almost simultaneously dead-locked. The horses, with that intelligence for which they are so remarkable, will commence to stop the instant they feel the pressure, and the vehicle will consequently be brought to a standstill in an extraordinary short space of time.

For the experimental trial, the car--horsed by Messrs. J. R. Brookman & Co., of the Globe Mews, Old Market Street, and driven by Harvey, the "whip" so well known in connection with the Hotwells line of 'buses belonging to the last-named firm--left the Wagon Works, Lawrence Hill, shortly after eleven o'clock, proceeding through Old Market Street, Castle Street, Wine Street, Clare Street, and over the Drawbridge. There were twenty-six or twenty-seven passengers, including the inventor himself (Captain Molesworth), Mr, Fry (managing director of the works), Mr. Margetson (the manager), and a number of other gentlemen interested in the trial, all of whom agreed in expressions of admiration concerning the comfort and ease with which they were conveyed. Several of the passengers alighted on the pavement and retook their seats without the slightest difficulty while the car was going at full speed, and the lightness with which it ran may be judged from the fact that, notwithstanding the heavy load, the one pair of horses attached--two ordinary 'bus animals, chosen of moderate quality for the purpose of the trial--took it over the steep pitch from St. Augustine's parade into College Green at a very fast rate, without the least distress, in fact, with a tight rein. Proceeding on down Hotwell Road as far as Dowry Square, the return journey was commenced, the reverse route being taken. On arriving between the Exchange and the Council House, which, as our readers are doubtless aware, is the narrowest part of Corn Street, the car was made to describe two circles, and on each occasion the turn was effected in a wonderfully short space. The trial was in every way highly successful, and sufficient practical knowledge obtained to advise the decreasing and lightening of the two front wheels and framework attached to such an extent as justifies the anticipation that when fairly placed in use a complete turn will be able to be effected in not more than the length of the vehicle. Crowds of people lined the streets on each side as it was driven through, and the judgment of all seemed to be unqualified in favour of the invention, which is likely to completely revolutionise the car system of the kingdom.

1897 - Adjustable Handle Bar for a Bicycle

"Logansport Daily Reporter", Logansport, Indiana, USA, Tuesday Afternoon, June 1, 1897.

Neat Invention.

Will Dunn has secured a patent on a neat adjustable handle bar for a bicycle. The invention consists of a rachet (sic) attachment which lowers or raises the bar at will and can be operated from the seat of the machine while it is in rapid motion. The invention has received many words of praise from wheelmen and an eastern company has made overtures for the agency. If capital can be interested the manufacturing of the invention will be done here. Already orders for scores have poured in.