109 years ago, May 22, 1906: Patent to Wright Bros. for “flying machine”

May 22, 2015

In a drawer in a file box in the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C., is a study in black ink on white paper, lines that resemble those images most of us have of the first Wright Bros. flyer, usually dubbed “Kittyhawk” after the place it first took to the air.

Drawing 1 from patent granted to Orville Wright for a flying machine

Drawing 1 from patent granted to Orville Wright for a flying machine

The patent was issued on May 22, 1906, to Orville Wright, Patent No. 821393, for a “flying machine.”

It makes more sense if you turn the drawing on its side.

Wright Bros. flying machine, from patent drawing

Wright Bros. flying machine, from patent drawing

With the patent, the Wrights had legal means to protect their idea so they could commercially develop it.  Turns out, however, that the fight to get the patent, and subsequent fights to protect it, may have prevented them from fully realizing the commercial success they could have had.  Lawrence Goldstone, the author of that article, details the history at much greater length in his 2014 book, Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies. 

Why did it take three years to get the patent issued?

Below the fold, the rest of the patent.

Read the rest of this entry »


Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775

June 17, 2011

Barely two months after the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Concord (April 19, 1775), British regulars attacked American colonists holding high ground near Boston, at Bunker and Breed’s Hills.  The Library of Congress carries a suitable-for-the-classroom description of the events, with links to resources:

Battle of Bunker Hill
Battle of Bunker Hill,
E. Percy Moran, artist,
copyright 1909.
Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

On June 17, 1775, American troops displayed their mettle in the Battle of Bunker Hill during the siege of Boston, inflicting casualties on nearly half of the British troops dispatched to secure Breed’s Hill (where most of the fighting occurred).

Map showing the action at Bunkers-Hill
A plan of the action at Bunkers-Hill, on the 17th. of June, 1775…,
By Sir Thomas Hyde-Page, 1775.
Map Collections

Approximately 2,100 British troops under the command of General Thomas Gage stormed Breed’s Hill, where colonial soldiers were encamped. In their fourth charge up the hillside, the British took the hill from the rebels, who had run out of ammunition. After suffering more than 1,000 casualties during their attacks on Breed’s Hill, the British halted their assaults on rebel strongholds in Boston. The last rebels left on the hill evaded capture by the British thanks to the heroic efforts of Peter Salem, an African-American soldier who mortally wounded the British commanding officer who led the last charge.

When George Washington assumed command of colonial forces two weeks later, he garnered ammunition for Boston troops and secured Dorchester Heights and Bunker Hill.

Several speeches in the American Memory collection African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907, contain references to Peter Salem, the former slave and hero of the Battle of Bunker Hill:

Mr. Everett has described Peter Salem, a black man, and once a slave, as having been among the most prominent and meritorious characters at the battle of Bunker’s Hill. Indeed, the historical painting of that scene, by Col. Trumbull, an eyewitness, done in 1785, gives Peter Salem , with other black patriots, a conspicuous place. One of the latter is thus commemorated:

“To the Honorable General Court of the Massachusetts Bay: The subscribers beg leave to report to your Honorable House (which we do in justice to the character of so brave a man), that, under our own observation, we declare that a negro man, called Salem Poor, of Col. Frye’s regiment, Capt. Ames’ company, in the late battle at Charlestown, behaved like an experienced officer, as well as an excellent soldier. To set forth particulars of his conduct would be tedious. We would beg leave to say, in the person of this said negro, centres a brave and gallant soldier. The reward due to so great and distinguished a character, we submit to the Congress.”
Cambridge, Dec. 5, 1755.

“A Reading on Slavery, from the Early Presidents.”
Opinions of the Early Presidents, and of the Fathers of the Republic, upon Slavery and upon Negroes as Men and Soldiers.
Prepared for the Celebration of Washington’s Birthday at Lyceum Hall, Salem, February 22, 1863.
African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907

Learn more about the Battle of Bunker Hill in American Memory:

Spirit of '76
Spirit of ’76, American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1905.
The American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920


Botanical lesson: Decaffeinated coffee comes from . . .

November 6, 2010

Too, too close to the truth:

Where decaffeinated coffee comes from

Posted anonymously? Who made this image?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kenny, freezing in Beijing with no heat in his apartment.


Vegetarian fireworks: Fruit and vegetable MRIs

July 19, 2010

Fireworks!

Broccoli, in an MRI

Broccoli, as seen by MRI

Looks like fireworks to me.

From Inside Insides, a site dedicated to MRIs of food.

Oddly beautiful.  Interesting.  Nerdy.

Tip of the old scrub brush to P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula.


Helen Thomas and a famous illusion

July 5, 2010

Sometimes people grow into a role they had not intended.

During the recent, sad flap about Helen Thomas’s offensive remarks and forced retirement, some media outlets carried a photo of Thomas that looked almost posed to me.  In our creativity consulting years ago, we used the old, famous optical illusion of the “old woman/young woman.”

Make up your own commentary.  What do you see?  How do you know you’re not looking at an illusion?

Optical illusion, Old woman/Young woman

Famous optical illusion, Old woman/Young woman, color version – borrowed from Mighty Optical Illusions after Gryphons Aerie crapped out.

Helen Thomas in a photo prior to 2009

Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas, sometime prior to 2009


Millard Fillmore’s 1856 campaign poster, on the Native American Party ticket

December 31, 2009

Millard Fillmore 1856 campaign poster - Library of Congress

Notes from the Library of Congress:

MILLARD FILLMORE, AMERICAN CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

CREATED/PUBLISHED
1856.

SUMMARY
A large woodcut proof for a campaign banner or poster for the Native American party’s 1856 presidential candidate. A bust portrait of Millard Fillmore appears in a roundel, flanked by allegorical figures of Justice (left) and Liberty (right). Both figures wear classical gowns and tiaras. Justice holds a large sword and scales, Liberty a staff and Phrygian cap and the Constitution. Atop the roundel perches an eagle, with American flags on either side. Below are a document “The Union” (left) and bundled fasces (right).

NOTES
Entered . . . 1856, by Baker & Godwin . . . New York.

The Library’s proof was deposited for copyright on July 10, 1856.

Published in: American political prints, 1766-1876 / Bernard F. Reilly. Boston : G.K. Hall, 1991, entry 1856-6.

Notice the striking resemblance to this 1860 campaign poster:

Poster for campaign of Abraham Lincoln for President, 1860 - Baker & Godwin, publisher; Library of Congress

Poster for campaign of Abraham Lincoln for President, 1860 - Baker & Godwin, publisher; Library of Congress

The Library of Congress notes:

SUMMARY: A print for a large campaign banner or poster for Republican presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln. It features a central roundel with a bust portrait of the candidate, flanked by standing deities Justice and Liberty. Justice (left) holds scales and a sword, while Liberty (right) holds the Constitution and a staff with Phrygian cap. An eagle with wings spread perches atop the roundel, behind which are several American flags on pointed staffs. Below the roundel a document “The Union” and a fasces lie on the ground. The image appears to have been printed from the same blocks (or a stereotype of them) as Baker & Godwin’s 1856 banner for Millard Fillmore (no. 1856-6). Only the central portrait has changed.

MEDIUM: 1 print on calendered paper : woodcut with letterpress ; image 39.3 x 55 cm.

CREATED/PUBLISHED: [New York] : Published and for sale by Baker & Godwin, Tribune Buildings, N.Y., c1860.

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President Millard Fillmore, by John Sartain

December 31, 2009

John Sartain’s (1808-1897) engraving of Millard Fillmore as President, published by William Smith in Philadelphia, sometime between 1850 and 1853.  Image from the Library of Congress’s collection of portraits of the presidents.

President Millard Fillmore, by John Sartain - Library of Congress

President Millard Fillmore, engraving by John Sartain (1808-1897) - Library of Congress

January 7, 2009, is the 209th anniversary of the birth of Millard Fillmore.


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