Lot 190 of 455:
1st patented electric motor in America 1838  

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Letter Signed as Commissioner of the US Patent Office, about patent of the first electric motor in America

Ellsworth, Henry L.

Washington, D.C.

Patent Office

June 16, 1838


1 pg. To Thomas Davenport, New York: “...neither of the pending applications for patents for Electro-magnetic Machines have yet been finally acted upon, and...yours is the only patent which has yet been issued for such a machine…”

Davenport was a self-taught Vermont blacksmith who constructed the first American DC electric motor in 1834. Other inventors in Europe had accomplished the same feat, but Davenport was the first to patent his design in the US.

Davenport used a battery-powered electric motor to operate a small model car on a short section of track, paving the way for the later electrification of streetcars. He later used his electric motor tro print “the Electro-Magnetic and Mechanics Intelligencer” – the first newspaper printed using electricity.

Henry Ellsworth, appointed the first Commissioner of the US Patent Office, a position he held for ten years, had the distinction of sponsoring ground-breaking new technology, including Morse’s telegraph and Samuel Colt’s revolver. 

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