Margaret Knight (1838–1914) applied for a patent using this model to demonstrate her machine that folded and pasted flat-bottomed paper bags. She was granted patent number 220925 for the invention in 1879. As stated in her patent specification, this design is an improvement on her earlier patent, number 116,842, granted in 1871. Her concept continues to be used in the manufacture of today's paper grocery bag.
Margaret was born in Maine, later living in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Her first patented invention, inspired by her work at a Springfield, Massachusetts paper company, was her machine for improvement in paper-feeding; it was given patent number 109224 in 1870. She received 26 patents for inventions having to do with the paper bag, shoe manufacturing, and rotary engine industries.
While many women had innovative ideas during the 19th century, it was difficult for them to secure patents under their own names. Knight's inventions are celebrated because they demonstrate women's participation in the American patent system.
Physical Description: metal (overall material)
Physical Description: wood (overall material)
Measurements: overall: 6 3/8 in x 6 3/4 in x 12 3/16 in; 16.2052 cm x 17.145 cm x 30.9372 cm
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Exhibition: Inventive Minds
Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History
Credit Line: Pravel, Gambrell, Hewitt, Kirk, Kimball, and Dodge
Related Publication: Harris, Elizabeth M.. Patent Models in the Graphic Arts Collection
Related Publication: National Museum of American History. Treasures of American History online exhibition
Related Web Publication: http://americanhistory.si.edu/treasures