Hagley Patent Models at PHL

Hagley Patent Models at PHL

A collection of nineteenth-century artifacts from Hagley Museum and Library is on the approach at the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) as many residents of the Delaware Valley plan for a record-setting rebound in summer travel.

A selection of Hagley’s patent models has landed at PHL to be featured in its Exhibitions Program. Hagley holds nearly 5,000 patent models in its collection; the second largest museum collection in the United States. The patent models symbolize thousands of innovations from inventors from all walks of life who submitted a miniature model of their invention to the U.S. Patent Office in the 1800s. It was once a requirement for a scale model to accompany a patent application, sometimes being crafted by the inventor, other times made by a professional model maker.

Chris Cascio, Hagley’s Alan W. Rothchild Assistant Curator, identified patent models that had a Philadelphia connection or referenced transportation, food, or drink––all relevant categories for those waiting to catch a flight. Of these, forty-nine were chosen to be part of Artifacts of Invention: Patent Models from Hagley Museum and Library, 1845-1895.

The patent model for the improved traveling trunk invented by Louis Ransom in 1867 was a predecessor to the wheeled luggage commonly used today. Ransom’s cylindrical trunk, which could be rolled, represented a different approach to the bulky, rectangular trunks porters had to carry around.

Soft pretzels are a Philadelphia staple snack. The “bretzel” machine from inventors William Lampert and Henry Hubert, patented in 1860, made quick work of stamping out pretzel- and bagel-shaped bread. The dough would be fed between metal rollers, stamped with a pretzel shape, then the uniform “bretzels” would fall into a conveyor belt.

By Memorial Day, travelers passing between Terminals C and D will be able to check out Hagley’s patent models. The exhibition will be on display throughout the busy 2022 summer and holiday travel seasons and serve as a preview to the late-summer opening of Nation of Inventors at Hagley, a major exhibition featuring more than 100 patent models, celebrating the American spirit of ingenuity. To learn more about the history of patent models, visit this page.

Hagley's Nation of Inventors exhibition is scheduled to open late summer 2002.