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US Patent: 10,422
Hezekiah B. Smith - Lowell, MA

USPTO Classifications:
144/77, 296/119

Tool Categories:
woodworking machines : wood drilling and boring : mortising machines
woodworking machines : joint making machines : mortising machines


H. B. Smith Machine Co. - Smithville, NJ

Elhanan W. Scott
A. P. Bonney

Patent Dates:
Granted: Jan. 10, 1854

Patent Pictures:
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"Vintage Machinery" entry for H. B. Smith Machine Co.
This design for a power mortiser is notable for its elegant simplicity. A reported example was used in a window factory until very recently.

One example (belonging to Dave Potts) is labeled, "H. B. Smith Smithville N.J. Pat Jan.10.1854 June.30.1857 Extended Jan.10.1868". The patent itself primarily covers the use of "the combination of the power of reversing by friction, with a stop to arrest it".

The patentee sued J. A. Fay & Co. for infringing this patent, a case that was adjudicated in June, 1873. "The principal and main features of novelty in my mortising-machine consist of a combination so arranged and operated that the chisel is reversed by power (by friction, with band or other contrivance), and stopped in the required position to finish either head of the mortise." Fay's lawyers acknowledged, "...it is true that they have been extensively engaged in the manufacture and sale of mortising-machines at Cincinnati, Ohio, but they deny that they have ever made, used, or sold any mortising-machines containing the patented improvement...in some of their mortising-machines, the chisel was reversed by positive motion; that in others the chisel was reversed by a device which was described and claimed in letters patent No. 68,791, granted to defendants, J. A. Fay & Co., as assignees of John Richards and William H. Doane, September 10, 1867; and that others differed from those made in accordance with said patent No. 68,791, in the fact that the belt did not slip upon the pulley in the rear of the standard, when the chisel was at rest, but said pulley turned freely upon its axis; but when the chisel was permitted to turn, it was rotated by means of a leather washer interposed between the said pulley and a wheel on the end of the horizontal shaft." The dispute hinged on whether the patent covered the basic principle of power reversing by friction, or only the specific mechanism described for achieving that aim. The court found that the idea was new and ingenious and therefore worthy of liberal protection. Fay's lawyers (including the eminent Samuel Sparks Fisher, who died shortly afterwards) then brought in several people to testify that Birdsill Holly had come up with the same idea in the early 1850s; Holly himself testified to that effect. However, Holly, who had already been granted several patents and was a dealer in woodworking machinery, and who testified that he recognized the value of the idea, somehow failed to patent this important idea. The judge all but called Holly a liar and rejected the defendant's claim of prior art. The final decision was in favor of the plaintiff, H. B. Smith.

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