CONTEXT

April 10, 2011

Walter Hunt – remember the name

Filed under: Uncategorized — jchatoff @ 12:22 am
Tags: , , ,

Walter Hunt

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

breech-loading rifle

improved cartridge primer

flax

streetcar bell

hard coal burning stove

street sweeping machinery

velocipede

nail-making machine

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.

So, let us all remember Walter Hunt, a good man and a great inventor.

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3 Comments »

  1. nice to finally know who invented the safety pin, good story thank you jean.

    Comment by avery — April 10, 2011 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  2. WOW! that is so funny i’ve never heard of him and i use safety pins almost daily! thank you walter 🙂

    Comment by nina c — April 12, 2011 @ 1:25 am | Reply

  3. Always thought being an inventor would be the best thing to be, but, it seems maybe it’s just like being me.

    Comment by Carol — April 12, 2011 @ 10:14 am | Reply


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