Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Strange Maine Patents

Google's new Patent Search makes it easy to find weird inventions that sprang from the brains of Mainers.

Charles Burt of Belfast would not have been a member of Greenpeace. He patented his Exploding Harpoon in 1851 in an effort to keep the whale population under control.

Henry D. Sprague of Portland's 1866 Improvement in Coffins involved mounting a mirror inside so that mourners wouldn't have to lean over the body to get a good look.

I'm glad that Arvid Ek's design for a Water Closet never caught on. It would have required that the user crouch over the toilet "and thereby increase the expulsive forces of the colon."

Josie Baldwin of Tremont invented a Chest Bandage for "effectively and continuously extracting superfluous milk from the breasts of a pregnant woman." The model doesn't seem to be enjoying it.

And, speaking of milking, no fewer than six patents for cow-tail holders were issued between 1890 and 1936. Apparently Maine milkers were especially prone to getting swatted by errant cow tails.

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