Cabinet of Curiosities: the History of the U.S. Patent Office's Models of Invention

Between 1836 and 1880, the U.S. Patent Office required that anyone applying for a patent submit a scale model along with their application. These models were displayed in the office’s public gallery in Washington, DC.

Reed Gochberg, the first researcher to dive into Hagley’s extensive collection of patent models, tells us about these fascinating objects and her attempts to understand how 19th-century Americans experienced and understood them.  

Read more about Hagley’s patent models here.
Explore the patent model collection here.


Banner image: Interior of the U.S. Patent Office, 1924.

Reed Gochberg is a lecturer in history and literature at Harvard University.​