The late 19th century was a wondrous and inventive era. Patent applications were at an all time high. Some ideas were better than others. Perhaps they all sounded good at the time. We’ll never know, but we can still appreciate the creativity of the minds who constructed these treasures.
The Animal Trap for Gun Lovers
Invented by J. A. Williams, 12/26/1882
Forget about the preposterous spring loaded snapper trap to catch those pesky rodents; you need the trap guaranteed to blow them to smithereens. Gather the children and load the revolver trap!
It’s unclear why Mr. Williams (of no relation to me, hopefully) thought it was necessary to use a gun to kill rodents. You have to wonder about the safety of leaving a loaded gun tossed into the dark, creepy corners of the house or barn. It might just take out more than rodents.
(May also successfully stop thieving outlaws.)
Fire Escape for the Dapper Gentleman or Woman
Invented by O. F. Davis, 12/19/1882
Your room is filled with choking smoke. Flames are licking at your heels. How do you escape the fourth floor inferno? Ah, yes, jump on a rope and drop to safety while smoking your cigarette. And, make sure you don’t forget your hat and medical bag. Do you see a possible correlation between the cigarette and the fire? This invention really isn’t strange like the others; it’s just a ridiculous drawing.
(Can also be used to extract Timmy from the well.)
“Life-Preserving Coffin, In Doubtful Cases of Actual Death”
Invented by Christian Henry Eisenbrandt, 11/15/1843
This is quite an elaborate contraption designed to allow an un-dead person to open the lid of the coffin. It would be easier and less expensive to confirm the person is dead before you place them in the wooden box. Imagine you’re at a funeral. The mood is somber. People are weeping. The pastor is saying a prayer, when suddenly the coffin lid pops open. Surprise!
(Also useful as a meditation chamber.)
Cork Swimming Suit, Most Practical Swimsuit in History
Invented by Paschal Plant, 11/21/1882
Life preservers have come a long way, but this is the most fantastic one ever conceived. Composed of netting, thread and pieces of cork, it oozes panache. Do you think it slipped over your regular bathing suit? It would have been too risqué to wear solo in 1882. Imagine the scandal!
(May double as a giant drink coaster.)
Meatwich: The Sandwiched Bread
Invented by G. L. Witsil, 10/11/1881
The patent drawing says it all: “As a new article of manufacture, sandwiched bread or bread containing pieces of meat which have been distributed in a raw condition throughout the dough of which the bread is composed and have been cooked at the same time therewith, substantially as hereinbefore set forth.”
There’s no denying desiccated mystery meat chunks lodged in dough and shaped like a taco does sound delicious. Spread a little mayo on it and you have instant sandwich without the tedious assembly process. But something is missing; dehydrated lettuce and tomato. Bon appétit!
(Also makes a great sponge for cleaning.)
Personal Life Boat, Save Yourself
Invented by John Macintosh, 11/11/1837
Half-man, half-boat – the extraordinary lifeboat chap stealthily floats across large bodies of water unscathed and dry, along with his precious possessions. The innovative rubber duck styling allows him to move freely in the water and on land.
This patent claims, “the saving of persons and property, for the conveyance of troops, baggage, and other articles across rivers…and for various other useful purposes.” Here’s another useful purpose: float/cooler for the pool. You can surround yourself in a bowl of icy cold beer.
(For a twist, it can be used as a portable bathtub by filling with soapy water.)
That’s all the remarkable patents you can handle for now. Clearly, your mind is blown by all the creativity. Stay tuned for another installment of peculiar inventions coming sometime in the future.
Thanks to the National Archives Today’s Documents for highlighting all these curious patents and drawings for the world to see.