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US Patent: 3,951X
Saws for cutting veneers
Ross B. Richardson - Philadelphia, PA

USPTO Classifications:

Tool Categories:
woodworking machines : specialty machines : veneer machines


Not known to have been produced


Patent Dates:
Granted: Oct. 06, 1824

Patent Pictures:
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Clive Edwards' paper on the history of veneer cutting
Most of the patents prior to 1836 were lost in the December 1836 patent-office fire, including this one. Little is known about this patent except for some tantalizing hints from sources quoting an 1825 advertisement, from which we infer that this patent is likely for a rotary veneer slicer. If so, it is the earliest such US patent, long before John Dresser's 1840 patent 1,758. This 1824 patent to Ross B. Richardson has been virtually forgotten and this writeup is a modest attempt to slightly address this injustice.

A 2008 paper on the veneer industry by Clive Edwards discusses early rotary veneer slicers; after mentioning an 1822 Viennese prototype, Edwards says, 'A short time later the process was developed in the USA and as the 'Improved Patent Rotary Veneer cutter propelled by steam power', it was used by Richardson and Co. of Philadelphia by 1825."

According to Jennifer L. Anderson's 2012 book, "Mahogany", "Some of Philadelphia's very first steam engines were used to run giant saws to cut veneers, which had always been a laborious task. In 1825, a newspaper advertisement announced that Richardson and Company's 'Steam Saw Mill and Mahogany Yard... (having) recently put in operation their Improved Patent Rotary Veneer Cutters, propelled by steam power, are prepared to cut Veneers of any given dimension...Fine Veneers, cut to convenient sizes, can be supplied for shipping, on the shortest notice...(to) any part of the United States."

Beginning about 1819 and continuing for a decade or more, Ross B. Richardson was a partner in Philadelphia bellows maker Eckstein & Richardson, and at the same time worked for Eckstein's other business making brushes. Click on Ross B. Richardson's name, above, to see his other patent for a japanned bellows).

The 1819 Paxton's Philadelphia Directory and Advertiser lists "Eckstein & Richardson, bellows manuf. 39 north 3d." Also listed is "Eckstein John, brushmaker 128 High and 36 N. 3d", and "Richardson R. B. brush finisher corner of Lawrence and Callowhill". An advertisement from about 1820 for the Philadelphia Bellows Manufactory, Eckstein & Richardson, has a note at the bottom: "John Eckstein, Respectfully informs his Customers, that he still continues the Brush Manufacturing in all its various branches..." The 1824 Philadelphia Directory lists "Richardson R. B. brush finisher, 166 north Eighth"; there is no listing for a Richardson & Co., nor for Eckstein & Richardson. The 1825 directory lists "Richardson Ross B. bellow & Brush m'r 273 Callowhill D. h. 166 N 8th". DeSilver's Philadelphia Directory for 1828 ilsts "Richardson Ross B, bellows and brush maker 273 Callowhill d h 166 N 8th"; no listings for Eckstein & Richardson or Richardson & Co. The 1830 DeSilver's Directory lists "Richardson Ross B., mahogany steam mill Lawrence bel Buttonwood d h 166 N 8th". The same listing appears in the 1831 directory. There is no listing for Ross B. Richardson in the 1833 directory.

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