Let’s at least try to, okay? Mr. Hunt really deserves it, yet somehow he seems to have fallen through the cracks of history. His entire personal biography consists of “born in Martinsburg NY in 1796, died in 1859, buried in Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn.”
That is absolutely all we know about the man who invented the safety pin. The safety pin!
And because he owed another fellow $15 and it troubled him, he sold the patent to W.R. Grace and Company for $400.
He also took out patents for:
the fountain pen
an ink stand
an ice boat
precast concrete block
restaurant steam table
home knife sharpener
improved cartridge primer
hard coal burning stove
street sweeping machinery
The guy was obviously a veritable fount of creativity and he has pretty much disappeared from the collective memory. I’m guessing it was because – unlike most of the really famous inventors – he was not in it to make money. In fact, his sewing machine – which he came up with a good decade before Elias Howe – needed some kinks worked out of it, but when he realized it would put seamstresses out of work, he stopped tinkering with it and didn’t even take out a patent.
Probably the greatest recognition he got came with his burial – Green-Wood was where all the swells were buried. He’s right there with Samuel F.B. Morse and Alice Roosevelt.