Make: Inventing a Better Mousetrap - PDF

200 years of American history in the amazing world of patent models.

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On April 10, 1790, president George Washington signed a patent bill that recognized the right of an inventor to profit from his or her invention. There was a caveat: In order to receive a patent, the inventor first had to submit a small reproduction of the invention in question. For the next 90 years, inventors dutifully and ingeniously created small-scale replicas of their larger vision, many of which were displayed for the public to admire. In 1880, the model stipulation was amended and inventors no longer needed to invent their ideas in miniature. But by then, some 200,000 patent models had been built and submitted, many of which are still around today.


Authors Alan and Ann Rothschild have made it their life's work to collect those models and showcase some 4,000 of these works in their own Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum in upstate New York. Inventing a Better Mousetrap details the history of the United States and the Industrial Revolution while telling the patent model story, not only cataloguing hundreds of the Rothschild's own models but showing you how to build your own replicas using today's technology. Through fascinating historical tales, Mousetrap chronicles the stories, challenges, and triumphs of our country's first Makers.


Meet the Authors

Alan and Ann Rothschild own the largest privately-owned collection of publicly-viewable patent models, the Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum. Containing nearly 4,000 patent models and related documents, the collection spans America's Industrial Revolution. Alan Rothschild, an inventor himself, has constructed an impressive facility to display hundreds of the models, along with a workshop/laboratory where the remaining models are stored and studied.