Patent Model For A Clothespin, Patent 76,547 (USA), April 7, 1868
This is a Patent Model for a Clothespin, Patent 76,547.
“The invention consists in providing such class or kind of clothes-pins with a catch or fastening, arranged or applied in such a manner that the pin will be actually prevented from continually slipping-off from the line and freeing the clothes therefrom a contingency of frequent occurrence, especially in Windy weather… By this simple improvement the difficulty attending the use of the ordinary clothes-pin, to wit, their casual detachment from the clothes-line, is actually[?] prevented.”
The earliest American patent for a clothespin was granted in 1832, though designs for hanging one’s laundry were likely known in England before then. In 1853, Vermont inventor David M. Smith patented a groundbreaking version of the device that employed two hinged arms, a design that more closely resembles today’s clothespin. These patent models represent some of the 146 patents issued for clothespins between the years 1852 and 1887. Most have been largely forgotten as a product of shortsighted ingenuity, but this collection nonetheless sheds light on the patent frenzy of the late 19th-century. Most patented clothespins in this period were for minor improvements, and almost all share a common goal: to keep clothes on the drying line without falling off. Some, including a later version patented by Smith in 1867, propose alternative materials for existing designs (in this case, substituting the wire for a cheaper wooden joint). Others dispense with a joint altogether in favor of a cut wood model, like the easily portable version patented by Henry Mellish in 1871. Today, an estimated 60 percent of all American homes have an automatic clothes dryer, rendering the clothespin more or less obsolete—except in the case of children’s craft projects. Indeed, Vermont’s National Clothespin Factory, the last factory producing wooden clothespins in the United States, closed its doors in 2002.
It is credited
Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Cat. T11393.035.
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Its dimensions are
H x W x D: 10.5 x 2.2 x 1.7 cm (4 1/8 x 7/8 x 11/16 in.)
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.