Pictures and text¹ of my Fall 2005 MTWCA Display

Gadgets, Gizmos, and Mechanical Marvels

(Gadgets, Gizmos, and Mechanical Marvels was the theme of the Fall 2005 tool meet.)

You can't beat the collection of gadgets, gizmos, and mechanical marvels found at the United States Patent and Trademark Office ( In 1974 Parker Brothers produced the game displayed here. It is based on twelve actual patents each of which could be described as a gadget, gizmo, or mechanical marvel.

Game within a Game

The 12 game cards include the patent's issue date but not the patent numbers and, more importantly, the titles of some of the patents were drastically changed! The game cards correspond to actual patents issued on the dates shown and finding them became a game for me. The USPTO web site only allows patent number, issue date and category searches for patents issued before 1976.

Join the fun

I'm one of the volunteers who enters tool patents at Among the patents I have entered are 11 of the games patents. One of the other volunteers had already entered the dimple making patent! A page of data for each of these patents as well as over 57,000 tool patents can be found at Contact me if you have patent information in electronic form that you would like to contribute to datamp. Datamp is also looking for volunteers to help enter patents. Join in on the fun of finding and categorizing gadgets, gizmo, and mechanical marvels.

Sample search

Here's how the search for the Adjustable Clothes Pins went¹.

Step one: determine a likely patent classification:

I did a title search on the USPTO site for clothes pin in the "modern" patents (post 1975 patents are fully searchable). The search criteria was: "clothes pin".TI. (in English that's a title search for clothes pin) 38 patents were returned when I wrote this. I clicked on 4,945,613 to find its Current U.S. Classes: 24/501; 24/511

Step two: Issue a search in the non-modern (pre-1976) section where the only criteria allowed are patent number, classification and/or issue date. Fortunately wildcards are allowed on the advanced search page. My search was Query: "19151109".pd. AND 24/$.CCLS. In English that's a patent issued on November 9, 1915 that is in classification 24 with any sub classification (there are usually a hundred or more sub classifications per class).

Fourteen patents meet this criteria. An image of each patent is displayed after clicking on the links returned from the USPTO site. The sixth one returned was the one I was looking for.

Update since this was originally written: The text of pre-1976 patents can now be searched. The search could have been "clothes pin".LPAR. and "19151109".pd. in the USOCR database. Exactly one patent is returned, which happened to be the one we were looking for! If we were unluck, errors in the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) process might have kept us from finding it. Images of the pre-1976 patents were scanned and the OCR software tries to determine what text is present. My favorite OCR error is "Corn Smeller" when the text contained "Corn Sheller" (the h of sheller was mistakenly identified as an m- a search for "Corn Sheller".LPAR. would not return that patent).

Here are a few useful patent links:

Patents from the Parker Brother's Inventors Game

Home| FAQSearch:Advanced|Person|Company| Type|Class

Patents for Parker Brothers
Patents 1 - 12 of 12
First set of records Last set of records
18,691Nov. 24, 1857S.P. HeintzelmanHorse water wing jacket
92,379Jul. 06, 1869C. SingerAir conditioned rocking chair
221,855Nov. 18, 1879B.B. OppenheimerParachute hat
256,265Apr. 11, 1882S.S. ApplegateEZ wake alarm
305,102Sep. 16, 1884J.H. NelsonLight up mouse frightener
363,037May 17, 1887C.R. WulffBird powered flying machine
490,964Jan. 31, 1893T.W. HelmCombined clothes brush, flask and drinking cup
556,248Mar. 10, 1896J.C. BoyleTipping cap
560,351May 19, 1896M. GoetzeDevice For Producing Dimples (human)
730,918Jun. 16, 1903A. Jackson, JrEye protector for chickens
1,159,804Nov. 09, 1915R.J. SchulzAdjustable clothes pins
1,175,513Mar. 14, 1916L.W. FlyntPounds away weight reducer

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¹ Originally I updated the search example when the USPTO added the ability to search by issue date in the pre-1976 patents.
The most recent update takes into account the change from patft to ppubs. Also there are now over 78,000 tool patents in datamp.