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Doodles, Drafts, and Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian  
Explore the ExhibitionView the ObjectsInnovators Gallery



Introduction
Working It Out
Convincing
Controlling
Recording
Credits

Detail Images: (above) Brannock shoe measuring device (detail), 1920 ; (upper right) Goose decoy (detail), 1950s

WORKING IT OUT

Drawing is a key element in the process of working out ideas. Drawing moves an idea from the "mind's eye" to paper, the first step along the path from thought to three-dimensional reality. Inventors sketch as they think, developing their ideas on paper more quickly and more easily than they might in model form.

The drawings in this section of the exhibition-from the proverbial sketch on a napkin to daily jottings in a notebook-show inventors considering engineering, economics, materials, and potential users as they think through new ideas.


Ames Iron Works
Shop order book
Oswego, New York: 1888-1890.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Shop order book

Shop order book, 1888-1890
Ames Iron Works, Oswego, New York
This order book was probably kept by the shop manager. In it, he sketched the parts that customers ordered, worked out details of their construction, and calculated the prices, based on hours of labor and costs of materials.

The left-hand page shows a sketch of an ash pit base for a locomotive boiler, to be built "as per the blue print sent here."

The right-hand page shows some calculations for the thickness of the head of a pressure vessel, as well as for the costs of the work.


Everett Huckel Bickley (1888-1972)
Electro-mechanical fly catcher
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania: 1943.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Electro-mechanical fly catcher

Electro-mechanical fly catcher, 1943
Everett Huckel Bickley, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania
pencil on paper
Everett Huckel Bickley (1888-1972), a Philadelphia-area inventor and entrepreneur, was responsible for dozens of inventions, some more marketable than others. His financial success came with the development of a bean-sorting machine that could, by use of photoelectric cell, sort good beans from bad. The sorter was the only invention from which Bickley ever made any considerable money, but it never dulled his enthusiasm for developing new ideas. At times he had up to nine active patent applications in the works, for such items as a nutcracker, a snow shovel, a slide mount, a faucet, and a photographic exposure meter.


Binney & Smith Inc.
Crayola raw materials tests data sheet
Easton, Pennsylvania: 1970s.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Crayola raw materials tests data sheet

Crayola raw materials tests data sheet, probably 1970s
Binney & Smith Inc., Easton, Pennsylvania
crayon on paper
In 1885, Edwin Binney (1866-1934) and C. Harold Smith (1860-1931) formed Binney & Smith Inc. The duo began producing Crayola Crayons in 1903.

This data sheet was used in developing a new formula for the orange crayon. The objectives of the test were to improve the crayon quality - better color and marking properties - while reducing the cost of production. The list of criteria on the left side of the color sample shows the range of tests for each crayon formula.


Binney & Smith Inc.
Crayola CTM test
Easton, Pennsylvania: 1970s.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Crayola CTM test

Crayola CTM test, probably 1970s
Binney & Smith Inc., Easton, Pennsylvania
crayon on paper
After World War II, Binney & Smith established a Research and Development Department to test and improve their crayons and other products. The Crayon Testing Machine (CTM) test measured a crayon’s ability to lay down color smoothly and evenly. Crayons were subjected to a number of different surfaces and coloring styles to assure their versatility and durability.


Charles F. Brannock
Brannock device
Syracuse, New York: 1920s.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Brannock device

Brannock device, 1920s
Charles F. Brannock, Syracuse, New York
ink and pencil on paper
Charles F. Brannock (1903-1992) began tinkering with the idea of a new foot-measuring device while still in college. After a trial run on the sales floor of his father’s shoe store, his invention soon gained favor over size sticks because it measured foot length and width at the same time.

This drawing shows most of the details of the final device—a form not too different from the Brannock devices used in shoe stores today. Brannock obtained a patent in 1928, but manufacture and sale of the device were already underway.


Andrew Butler ; and Kevin Reeder
Idea Log (1985-1988) and Utility Sketchbook (1988)
Santa Clara, California: 1985-1988.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Idea Log (1985-1988) and Utility Sketchbook (1988)

Idea log, 1985-1988
The idea logs and sketchbooks kept by Andrew Butler (born 1955), a California carpenter and inventor, and designer Kevin Reeder (born 1956) combine quick idea sketches, more developed designs, and questions about marketing. They document the pair’s interest in a wide range of high-tech digital tools, such as tape measures and levels, and a constant concern over whether carpenters would buy them.

The sketchbook’s notarized pages are intended to prove the dates of the inventions in case of a patent dispute.


Howard Head
Tennis racket
Timonium, Maryland: 1974.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Tennis racket

Tennis racket, 1974
Howard Head, Timonium, Maryland
pencil on paper
Howard Head (1914-1991), aviation engineer, inventor, and businessman, revolutionized the ski and tennis industries. He made the first metal laminate skis in 1950 and introduced a metal tennis racket at the 1969 U.S. Open. In 1971, as chairman of the board of Prince Manufacturing Inc., he introduced an oversized tennis racket much larger than the traditional one. The bigger head of the new racket more than doubled the "sweet spot," thereby maximizing the energy of the stroke. Head later developed and patented a line of new aluminum rackets and introduced the "Prince Advantage" in 1976.


Leonard P. Karr (1913-1995)
"Real Geese" and "Super-Goose"
Yakima, Washington: 1950s-1991.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center


Goose decoy, 1950s
pencil on paper
Leonard P. Karr (1913-1995), a sign painter and avid goose hunter and fisherman, applied his artistic and inventive talents to further his hobby. In 1954, he patented his two-dimensional goose decoys, which were sold under the "Real Geese" brand and marketed to hunters in the American Northwest. Karr did not renew his patent after its initial term, and after it expired his basic design was pirated. He later experimented with a man-sized, goose-shaped hunting blind he called "Super-Goose."


Charles Sumner Tainter
Notebook of sound-related inventions
Washington, D.C.: 1882.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Notebook of sound-related inventions

Notebook of sound-related inventions, 1882
Charles Sumner Tainter, Washington, D.C.
Starting in 1879, Charles Sumner Tainter (1854-1940), a machinist and scientific instrument maker, worked with Alexander Graham Bell on a series of sound-related inventions, including a photophone, for transmitting sound over a light beam, and a variety of graphophones, Bell's term for his style of phonograph.

Tainter kept detailed notebooks of each day's work—notebooks that later played a key part in the endless patent suits involving Bell, Tainter, Edison, and other phonograph inventors. This page shows a voltage-regulating device for a graphophone.


Unknown Inventor
Automatic compound bevel wheel cutting machine
1883.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Automatic compound bevel wheel cutting machine

Automatic compound bevel wheel cutting machine, 1883
ink on linen
The unknown inventor of this machine worked out the details of design on this drawing.


Orla E. Watson
Telescoping shopping cart
Kansas City, Missouri: 1948.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Telescoping shopping cart

Telescoping shopping cart, Frame, 1948
purple ink (transfer) and pencil on paper
Orla E. Watson (1896-1983) devised these plans - carefully witnessed and dated for use in filing a patent - for a telescoping shopping cart that did not require assembly or disassembly of its parts before and after use. The cart could be fitted into another cart for compact storage; the hinged side of the baskets allowed the telescoping. Watson's Western Machine Company made examples of his invention, and the first carts premiered in 1947 at Floyd's Super Market in Kansas City.


Felix Zandman
Resister
Malvern, Pennsylvania: 1996.

Images courtesy National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Resister

Resister, 1996
Felix Zandman, Malvern, Pennsylvania
ballpoint pen on paper napkin
The classic inventor's sketch on a napkin! Dr. Felix Zandman (born 1928), holder of dozens of patents for electronic devices and chairman and CEO of Vishay Intertechnology, Inc., sketched this idea for a resister during a lunch-time conversation, proving that inspiration can strike anywhere and at any time.


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