Patent Models Transferred to the National Museum

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On February 13, 1925, the U.S. Congress passed a law authorizing the creation of a commission to dispose of the patent model collection in the U.S. Patent Office. The U.S. National Museum at the Smithsonian was authorized to select the models that they believed were of historic importance, and those models were transferred to the National Museum collections. Others were returned to inventors' families, the bulk were sold to Sir Henry Wellcome, a British collector, and many were destroyed.


  • Wellcome, Henry S (Henry Solomon) Sir 1853-1936
  • Patent and Trademark Office
  • National Collections
  • Patent Office Early History
  • United States National Museum
  • Patent Office


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Riordan, Teresa, "Patents; Models that were once required in the application process find a good home," The New York Times, February 18, 2002.
  • 43 Stat. 942 (1925), ch. 230, "An Act to authorize the appointment of a commission to select such of the Patent Office models for retention as are deemed to be of value and historical interest and to dispose of said models, and for other purposes," Statutes at Large, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1925, pp. 942-943.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Patents
  • Models (representations)
  • Inventions
  • Patent Models

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