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The preceding denotes the slow but steady approaches that were made towards the accomplishment of a grand conception, started one hundred and one years since, as we can trace it on the records of science, viz.: instantaneous intercommunication of thought, between any distant points, by electric agencies.
But an essential modification of such an agency to make it available, viz. galvanism, was not known until 1791, when it was unexpectedly discovered, and not with reference to the end which other philosophers had been pursuing, by Galvani, professor of anatomy at Bologna.*
It remained, however, for Professor Volta, of Pavia, to discover the practical elongation, if we may so express it, of this principle, or of its presence, by means of different metals that would at the same time serve as generators and conductors of it, along a specified line. This he accomplished in 1801, and perfected in what is now known as the Voltaic battery. In 1807, Sömmering so far availed himself of these advances of Galvani and Volta, as to apply them to a revival of the conception of an electric telegraph, and erected one in the Academy of Sciences at Munich that year, - an account of which was published in 1809. But let the reader observe, that, up to this time (1809), the magnetic agency, requisite to the reduction to useful practice of the first great conception of this species of telegraph, was yet wanting, because yet unknown. In its absence, the galvanic current was thought of as available to this end, only by its power of chemical decomposition of water or metallic salts. Such was Sömmering's process of indicating signs.
Up to 1816, the philosophic world had dwelt only on the chemical properties of galvanism for a device by which telegraphic signs could be made available. Yet so sanguine were the reflecting philosophers upon the ultimate attainment of this end, even by this means, that, during the year last named, one of our countrymen, JOHN REDMAN COXE, of Philadelphia, in a published article said: "I have contemplated this important agent as a probable means of establishing telegraphic communications with as much rapidity, and, perhaps, less expense than any hitherto employed. * * However fanciful in speculation, I have no doubt, that, sooner or later, it will be rendered useful in practice.”
But in 1819, a new discovery was made by Prof. Oersted, of Copenhagen, which in time has crowned the original conception of an electric telegraph with perfect success; and reduced the whole to a degree of practical utility, in the daily intercourse of men and communities, that cannot again be lost while intellect and science are co-existent, nor dispensed with while the maxim is appreciated, that "time is money." This discovery consists of
*In a work entitled "The General Theory of Pleasures," published by a German philosopher named Sultzer in 1767, the germ of the galvanic discovery by Galvani was made known in a statement of the sensations produced by placing two metals in contact with each other and with the tongue; but this effect seems not then to have been suspected of any important bearing on science, and was not further investigated by Sultzer.
the inductive magnetism of the galvanic current, by which, under the subsequent researches of Oersted, Fechner, Ampere, Arago, Biot, Davy, Faraday, and others, in Europe, and Henry, Hare, and others, in the United States, the electro-magnetic agency has been perfected; and complete control over the galvanic current, in the shape of induced magnetism, at any and every desirable point for telegraphic purposes, has been attained, and, through Professor Morse's ingenious application reduced to practice. Our own extensive country will reap the advantages of it, and is beginning already to do so, in a preeminent degree. The time is comparatively near, when ubiquity will be given to all sorts of public and private intelligence throughout the length and breadth of this continent, more distinctively than hitherto has been true within the limits of the smallest village. The following Lines of Telegraph have been completed and put into operation.
Lines under Construction, and in a good condition of forwardness.
Lines Projected, and that will probably be completed within the year 1848.
It is also highly probable that even as many more miles of telegraph
Benningt'n, Vt., & Bridgep't, Ct
Portland and Halifax,
not yet named, will be in operation at the end of another year, as are embraced above. In fact, the electric spirit is abroad, and none can yet compute its results or measure its speed.
XXVIII. PATENT OFFICE,
And Abstract of the Laws of the United States concerning Patents.
The Patent Office is under the direction of the Secretary of State, and was established upon its present basis by the act of July 4, 1836, which repealed all previous laws concerning the office. By this law, all patents must be issued in the name of the United States; bear the seal of the patent office; be signed by the Secretary of the Treasury, and countersigned by the Commissioner of Patents, and be recorded in the patent office with all accompanying specifications and drawings. Patents grant to applicants, for fourteen years, the sole right to make and sell the invention or discovery. Applications for patents must be made to the commissioner in writing, and must give a full, clear, and exact description of the invention or discovery, specifying particularly what is claimed as the peculiar invention or discovery; the whole to be accompanied with drawings, models, and specimens of ingredients, and of the composition of matter. The descriptions and drawings must be signed by the inventor, attested by two witnesses, and filed in the patent office. The applicant must make oath of what country he is a citizen, that he believes that he is the original and first inventor or discoverer of that for which he solicits a patent, and that he does not know or believe that the same was ever before known or used. Before the ap
plications are considered by the commissioner, $30 must be paid to the Treasurer of the United States, or the assistant Treasurers, by the applicant, if a citizen, or an alien who has resided one year in the United States, and made oath of his intention to become a citizen; $500 by a subject of the Queen of Great Britain, and $300 by all other persons. If the application be for a patent for any original design, &c., the fee is but one-half of the usual sums, and the patent runs only for seven years.
If upon examination it shall appear to the commissioner that the alleged invention is new, unpatented or undescribed in any printed publication, that it has not been used or exposed to sale with the applicant's consent prior to his application, and that it is sufficiently useful and important, a patent will be granted. If the invention has not been patented in a foreign country more than six months, and not introduced into common use in
the United States prior to the application, a patent may be granted for fourteen years from the date of the publication of the foreign letters patent. The applications may be withdrawn, modified, and renewed. An appeal lies upon the payment of $25, from the decision of the commissioner to the Chief Justice of the District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia; and the commissioner is bound by his decision. In case of interfering applications, a similar appeal upon like conditions may be had; and in case of interfering patents, if upon appeal the decision be adverse, the party may have his remedy by bill in equity. The patent may date from the time of the filing of the specifications, if it is within six months from the time of the actual issuing of the patent. The assignment of patents must be recorded within three months from the execution thereof. If inventors die without obtaining a patent, their executors may take one out in trust for the heirs.
When further time is desired to mature an invention, upon the payment of $20 a caveat may be filed in the secret archives of the patent office, setting forth the design and purpose thereof; and if within a year any interfering application is made, the inventor, to enjoy the benefit of his caveat, must within three months after notice of such application deposite his specifications, &c. in the patent office; and, if the specifications interfere, the same course must be had as upon interfering applications.
If a patent is invalid from defective descriptions, upon the surrender of the old patent and the payment of $15, a new patent, in accordance with the corrected specifications, may be granted, or, upon the payment of $30 for each additional patent, several patents may be issued for distinct and separate parts of the thing patented. In like manner, additions may be made to a patent. If the specifications are too broad, a disclaimer, in writing and attested, may be recorded in the patent office, upon the payment of $10. Where the patentee, without intent to defraud, claims without right to be the inventor of the whole of a machine, the patent shall be good for what is bona fide his own. If the patentee has not, during fourteen years, obtained a sufficient remuneration from his invention, the patent may be extended for seven years, after the end of the first term; but the extension must be granted during the continuance of the first term. Patents may also be extended by act of Congress. Patentees of patents granted after August 29, 1842, must stamp or engrave upon each article offered for sale, the date of the patent, under a penalty of not less than $100. We gather the following account of the condition and business of the patent office from the report of the commissioner, January, 1847.
The patent office has thus far more than sustained itself. All the receipts from various sources are carried to the credit of the patent fund, which on the 1st of January, 1847, amounted to $186,565.14. The receipts and expenditures for the year ending Dec. 31, 1846, were as follows:
Balance in treasury to credit of patent fund, Jan. 1, 1846,
Balance to the credit or patent fund, Jan. 1, 1847,
During the year ending December 31, 1846, there were 1,272 applications for patents; 448 caveats filed; 619 patents issued, including 13 re-issues, 5 additional improvements, and 59 designs; 473 patents expired; 3 applications for extensions, 2 of which were rejected and 1 is still pending. Two patents have been extended by Congress during the same period.
For the purpose of examination, the inventions are divided into twentytwo classes, eleven being referred to each examiner.
The following Table shows the Classes of Inventions, the number of Applications for Patents under them, and the number of Patents granted during the year ending Dec. 31, 1846:
Classes of Inventions.
Examined by Charles G. Page.
1. Agriculture, including instruments and operations...
5. Lever, screw, and other mechanical powers
6. Stone and clay manufactures, including machines therefor... 7. Leather, including the tanning, dressing, and manufacture thereof..
8. Household furniture, machines and implements for domestic 9. Arts (polite), fine and ornamental, including music, painting, sculpture, engraving, books, printing, binding, jewelry, &c. 10. Surgical and medical instruments, including trusses, dental instruments, bathing apparatus, &c.
11. Wearing apparel, articles for the toilet, &c., including instruments for manufacturing
Examined by W. P. N. Fitzgerald.
12. Metallurgy and the manufacture of metals. ·
13. Manufacture of fibrous and textile fabrics, and all machinery therefor
14. Steam and other gas engines. ·
15. Navigation, comprehending naval architecture and marine
16. Civil engineering and architecture.
17. Land conveyance, comprehending all kinds of vehicles and implements of travel and transportation
18. Mills, comprehending all kinds of mills for grinding and crushing, and means of propelling them....
22. Miscellaneous, consisting of such cases as cannot be placed in any other classes.....
* Nearly correct. The exact number does not appear in the Report.