Invention and the Patent Model

June 20, 2013 – April 20, 2014

National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

1st Floor, Center, History Highlights Case Floor Plan

Between 1790 and 1880, the U.S. Patent Office required a three-dimensional working model of each submission to demonstrate how the invention worked and to compare it against previously patented inventions. The models reflect technological needs during the 19th century, as well as the social roles and division of labor between men and women. This case highlights 20 models from the museum’s collections, including the model for Samuel Morse's telegraph patent.