1845 Reproduction of Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin Patent Model, patent issued 1796

Photo: Richard Strauss, Smithsonian
April 18, 2012
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Photo: Richard Strauss, Smithsonian

In Whitney’s day, inventors sent paperwork, a model, and $30 to the secretary of state (then Thomas Jefferson) in order to obtain a patent. After a fire destroyed the Patent Office and its contents in 1836, officials re-created some of the records and models. This model may have been based on existing gins as well as on other models made by Whitney.