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´╗┐Title: Learn to Invent, First Steps for Beginners Young and Old - Practical Instuction, Valuable Suggestions to Learn to Invent
Author: Clark, S. E.
Language: English
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    We should apprentice ourselves as it were to the


    Study the original lines of his thoughts


    The young artist studies the master work.

    Copyright 1907 by S. E. Clark


    S. E. CLARK


    By mail 25 cents      Estb.  1883


The booklets "Mental Nuts" and "A Book of Maxims" have met with so much
favor I have decided to try again. I submit this little effort to those
young and old who desire information and suggestions on the subject, in
the form of a "first step" or introduction, for those who would learn
to invent.

Though it is entirely a subject for the deepest study, I favor a
personal talk, digressing at times in an effort to interest and
instruct, to enliven and cheer. I see little hope for the casual
reader. "As ye sow so shall ye also reap." My faith rests in the
careful, persevering student. I sincerely hope that as a whole the
effort may prove helpful to many. As to the future, may you all realize.

"Full many a pupil has become more famous than his master."

                                                      S. E. C.

Philadelphia, Pa., Sept. 3, 1907.


Invention is the fountain source of material progress. It would indeed
be a fruitless effort to try to express in adequate language its
wondrous possibilities and practical worth to mankind. Its field of
action surpasses all others. It is most apparent in our daily walks of
life. Every human effort owes it homage. The fame of many inventors has
encircled the earth. They have been feted and honored in many ways,
their names indelibly inscribed on the roll of the earth's greatest
men. Fortune and fame have been showered on them with a lavish hand,
and yet little or no effort is made to direct thought into this vast
and unlimited field for study, that people may learn to invent. The
whole subject is left quite in the dark. It is on the go-as-you-please,
hit-and-miss plan. People become inventors by mere chance, and are
viewed as possessing a special gift of nature. I hold that invention is
just as tangible as any of the sciences and can just as well be taught.
The human mind is naturally inventive. The trend will improve and grow
or it will wilt and die, according to the attention it receives. To
learn to invent we should apprentice ourselves, as it were, to the
inventor, take up his invention and study the original lines of his
thought, as the young artist studies the master work. First learn to
imitate, and the creative thought will follow and develop. I shall be
content to confine my effort to the simplest forms of devices I can
call to mind, a first step. But don't mistake nor be discouraged. To
the average man and the particular people to whom I hope this pamphlet
will appeal the small and simple devices are the cream of the field.
They are easily handled, quickly turned, and many pay fabulous sums.
Oftentimes the idea will flit before the mind like a will-o'-the-wisp
or its zephyr-like touch is not realized. I believe many people have
experienced a semi-consciousness of the presence of opportunity and
allowed it to pass unheeded by, that had they taken it up intelligently
and properly studied and developed it they would have become famous.

We should inform and prepare ourselves. Be ready to act on the
slightest intimation. "There is a tide in the affairs of men which,
taken at the flood, leads to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their
life is bound in shallows and in miseries."

    "The nearer to the practical men keep
     The less they deal in vague and abstract things
     The less they deal in huge mysterious words
     The mightier is their power,

           *       *       *       *       *

     The simple peasant who observes a truth,
     And from the fact deduces principle;
     Adds solid treasure to the public wealth,
     The theorist who dreams a rainbow dream
     And calls hypothesis philosophy,
     At best is but a paper financier
     Who palms his specious promises for gold,
     Facts are the basis of philosophy;
     Philosophy the harmony of facts."
       Thomas L. Harris, in "Lyrics of a Golden Age."



Since we will interest ourselves in the very small affairs that hang
like a great cloud of fringe on the science of invention, I think it
well to make a note of some of the bright little things that have been
brought forth. Many of these little mites have proven to be veritable
gold mines to the fortunate originator or patentee. They are too
numerous to classify. They appear so very simple, embodying but a
single thought, we naturally associate "'luck." Indeed, many did come
to mind uninvited, but it was to an observing mind, a thinking mind.
If we desire to participate in and avail ourselves of these wondrous
opportunities we must observe and think.

The dents on the old tin tobacco boxes, one on the box, the other on
the lid, placed to register with and thus secure it when closed, was
certainly very simple.

It is said a man was sewing and the needle would often slip off the
end of the thimble when he would attempt to push it through. He became
vexed and struck the thimble a blow on the end with a hammer. It was
first convex, but the blow from the hammer made it quite flat on the
end. Upon renewing the sewing he found the thimble worked splendidly;
the needle did not slip. He became interested and finally took out a
patent for a thimble with a concave end.

Certainly, to any one who would attempt to get up a machine to do
sewing it would appear as a mere matter of force of circumstance to use
a needle with the eye in the point, since necessarily the other end
would be attached to the machine.

The return ball, in homely language a wooden ball with a rubber string
fastened to it, was certainly simple enough; also the metal toe cap
formerly extensively used on children's shoes to prolong their wear.

The little wheels on the end of the pole on the trolley cars would
have been a bonanza were it not that the introduction of the trolley
system was so slow. The seventeen years for which patents are granted
passed by before the system became in general use. This slowness to
become general has ruined many grand opportunities. It is a fact to be
reckoned with.

Many successful inventors have had their hopes blasted at times by the
apathy of the people in adopting their inventions in time for them to
reap their just reward. While the inventor naturally and perforce must
lead, he should be discreet, and not go so far ahead that he cannot get
the people to follow. Some matters must be approached gradually.

The little ball fastening so common on our money purses is a gem. It
would be rare indeed to provide any other device to take its place, it
is so convenient, simple and practical. A fastener, to be a success,
must make a noise in closing; it becomes the signal to the mind that
the work is properly done.

The hook and eye "see that hump" was simple enough, but I fancy it
required a splendid campaign of advertising and business push to get it
to the front and make it pay.

Many inventions are virtually lost because they are not properly
pushed. My advice is, if you have an invention and are not situated
properly to push it, sell it. Experience leads me to observe that we
constantly change our views or see things differently. Some things look
good to-day and later we do not think well of them, and vice versa,
other things improve and grow in our estimation. When an idea of a
device occurs, study it; think how it can best be made; make a drawing
of it; take up every detail and material best suited. Try to get it
in the most simple form. When, after careful consideration, you feel
that you have perfected it in your mind, have a model made and see that
it meets every requirement. If you do not sell the invention you can
contract the manufacturing and go into the business of selling, or you
can put it out on a royalty basis.

All inventors use certain mechanical principles. The same principle is
often found in many different inventions; hence, it is well to study
these principles, as the knowledge of them will help you to perfect
and bring forth your invention. In this connection I would advise that
you possess all the little novelties you can; study them; examine them
closely and ask yourself why did he this and that. Take up each one
and try to get a clear understanding of it; practice explaining it
to others and impress the points on your mind; they may be of great
service to you some day. Many times a good idea is poorly carried out,
the mechanical arrangements are not well adapted either for performing
the work or to effect lowest cost in construction. These defects give
rise to improvements. It certainly would be a provoking experience to
obtain a grand idea and get it up in a defective mechanical way and
have someone make a simple improvement and reap the reward. If I could
control the matter I would change the patent laws in this respect. I
would foster improvement, but I would not allow the original inventor
to be robbed of his just reward. I would not permit him to become
arrogant and dictate impossible terms, but I would see to it that he
at least got a part of his dues. If he came forward with an original
invention he would get a patent; if another man made an improvement
on his method I would give him a patent, subject to a small royalty
to the original inventor, and to continue until the original patent
expired. The matter could be judged just as well as law cases are
judged. You must duly consider the subjects you attempt. Don't bother
with perpetual motion; it would only be a toy at best. I have no faith
in a non-refillable bottle: in all probability it would fill if it
were submerged, and particularly if a hole were drilled in it. An
idea in this line is to have a nickel or a dime blowed in the glass
of the bottle; the goods would be sold for the amount more, and the
buyer would break the bottle to get his money back. The idea seems
practical, at least so far as the fact that the broken bottle would
be a true non-refillable one. Ordinarily I do not interest in those
inventions that require to be demonstrated, as they are too expensive
to introduce. The people are generally skeptical, and they have been
so for ages. The poets of the early centuries voiced public doubt in
verse, referring to a gun, gotten up and promoted by a stock company,

    "A rare invention to destroy the crowd
     Of fools at home, instead of foes abroad;
     Fear not my friends, this terrible machine,
     They're only wounded who have shares therein."

Financial advices are all good before ten and after three. As a rule,
don't buy stocks that are glaringly advertised; they are working hard
to sell. Don't go in by the front door: stocks of such companies can
generally be bought on the outside for less than the advertised price
and are most always too high at that. Many, indeed, would be high at
the price in counterfeit money. Vast sums and much time have been lost
on various patents connected with railroads, etc. Once in a great while
one may succeed.

You should have a book and record your ideas as they occur; write out
enough about them to make the whole thought on the subject clear,
and preserve it for future reference. It would be a splendid idea to
write out descriptions of any little novelty you see. State all the
particulars; make your notes so that you will clearly understand every
detail at any time you refer to them: get all the patent papers of
small or simple novelties, etc., that you can and read carefully what
they say about the construction; note what the inventor claims. I
would recommend the Patent Office Gazette. This, I am sure, will prove
the most valuable exercise you can take. They will prove practical
lessons of worth and you will gain many helpful ideas. I recently met a
gentleman from the South, who had taken out a patent on a hoe that was
used extensively in the cotton fields. The blade was extra large and
the handle was secured to the middle or central portion in a way that
when the edge of the blade in use became worn and battered it could be
turned and virtually form a new hoe.

In the early days of the linotype or printing machines there were
several machines being made and developed. One of the parties took out
a patent on what they called an adjuster. It was simply a wedge, which
was operated to spread the type and space the words; and though a very
simple matter, it became a most important feature and compelled the
other companies to pay a royalty for its use.

I think it will be found a very valuable point to carefully consider
the subject before you rush into developing an invention. Many things
can be done, viewed as a mere mechanical possibility, but circumstances
may preclude their use. A party labored on the idea of a device to
perforate postage stamps in the operation of canceling them. The
thought finally occurred to him to use sand in the mucilage, so that
when the stamp was struck in the usual canceling operation the sand
would cut through it. I am informed that he wrote to the Postoffice
Department at Washington. In their reply they stated that the sand
would also cut the envelope. If I desired to work on that idea I would
first aim to print the stamps with a color that would turn after it was
canceled in the usual way, using, perhaps, some acid in the canceling
ink, or I would work on the lines of a cancel to tear an embossed
stamp, but I don't think the subject worth while. I prefer articles
that sell to the many. "Little and often fills the purse."

All inventions originate in thought, which is often due to casual
observance. We see a man stoop on the street, pick up a straw or
splint and run it in the pipe stem. We begin to think. His pipe became
clogged; it did not draw freely; he was lucky to find the straw;
he might not always find one so readily. It is an idea to provide
for such emergency so that he will not have to depend on the chance
straw--something convenient; let me see--suppose we take a fine wire,
double and twist it, leaving a small ring at one end. He could put it
in the pipe-stem and leave it there; it would not be large enough to
close the draft. If the stem became stopped he could pull the wire out,
clean and replace it. Now, we observed, thought obtained an idea and
constructed a device; can we improve it? We should study, ask ourselves
the questions, Does it this? Will it that? Make a sample and test it,
see that it meets the requirements, and you have an invention. Obtain a
patent, have them manufactured, and put them on the market.

I do not smoke at present, and certainly do not recommend cigarettes,
but simply as an illustration of an idea: we could gather up tobacco
stems, etc., and make them into a paper to be used as a wrapper in
making the cigarette. It would come pretty near being an all-tobacco
cigarette. Why not fit the inside of the watch case with a thin sheet
revolving calendar?

A hollow rubber ball or spring might be fitted in the heel of the shoe
to make walking more comfortable.

An instrument to write with, fitted so that a ball passing over the
paper would leave the mark or ink. It would not scratch and would wear
longer than a gross of pens.

Bicycles may have seen their day; I often thought an automatic pump
could be arranged to keep them in prime condition.

Possibly a leather paint could be made to paint the soles of one's
shoes, to make them wear longer.

The governor on an engine is a simple idea; its function is to
control--by its use the engine is regulated. If the latter is operating
a dozen machines it is exerting a certain power; if, suddenly, ten of
the machines were stopped, the power would run the engine at a terrific
rate of speed; the governor rises and shuts off the power, and thus
controls the engine.

The safety valve on the boiler is also very simple; it controls the
steam pressure, allowing it to escape when it becomes too great.

The wood or cold handle sad iron is exceedingly simple and
astonishingly profitable.

The Morse alphabet, used in telegraphing, was rather on the puzzle
order, and quite easy at that.

Argand had gotten up his lamp with a circular wick, in a tube, the air
thus supplying oxygen from within and without. It was a success; his
child brother playfully set a broken flask over the flame, which was
greatly improved thereby. The practical eye of the elder Argand enabled
him to note the birth of lamp chimneys.

The four wire prongs to hold chimneys on lamps were crude, simple, and
very profitable.

A good fender for trolley cars should be made so that it could be
projected in front of the car, or drawn in within the line of the car,
bow-shaped in front and governed by springs, so that it would yield
when striking a person.

A mechanism might be arranged to show the next station or street on a
sign in the car. It could be operated by power taken from the axle,
though the slipping of the wheels would be bothersome.

The flying machine is a little too much of a wild fancy for me; it
would do for some fellow who wants to get off the earth. "It's me for
the simple life."

Men chew their cigars so much in smoking; it don't look a bit neat; an
oiled paper end might be worked on under the wrapper to help the matter.

For cheap, machine made cigars, a toothpick might be worked in, to be
pulled out before lighting, to improve the draft.

"Please shut the door" became a very common saying; finally it
attracted the inventor's attention. A rope, pulley and weight may have
been first; then springs ordinarily applied came, finally the spring
was placed in the hinge and later still the spring and air cushion
were combined. It closes the door and prevents it from slamming.

I believe in keeping fairly quiet about ideas I am working on. But
don't spend your money for a patent too quickly. Many times patents are
taken out, and instead of any danger of someone stealing them, they
can't be coaxed to buy at mere cost. Unless it is really an important
idea, it pays to get them made and see if they will sell before you
take out a patent.

In your notebook where you keep a record of novelties and your ideas,
from time to time, don't fail to record all costs you can learn of and
where different things can be made--the more particular you are about
these matters, the more you will improve your ideas and ability to
properly promote them. Much vexation and lost time can be avoided in
getting up inventions by being exact. "Slipshod" won't do. It defeats
many perfectly practical ideas. The parts of a machine must be shaped
and fitted to a nicety; "whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing

It seems to me there is no end to improvement. I heard of a Yankee
who was traveling in England. He was somewhat of a blower; no matter
what he saw or heard of he claimed they had the same thing in America
much more improved. The Englishmen could not stand it, so they thought
they would get the best of the Yankee. They told him of a wonderful
machine, the most complete ever built. A hog was driven in at one end
and came out a cooked sausage at the other. The Yankee took it calmly
and said yes, they had it in America, but it was a failure until a
fellow-Yankee improved it. "Improve it? a complete machine like that?
why, impossible." "Well," said the Yankee, "he put an attachment on so
that if you did not like the sausage you simply reversed the machine
and the hog walked out again."

Next to the simple or single idea patents: I think the improvements
follow, and indeed many of them are exceedingly simple. It is all right
to improve old patents and new ones, when the improvement has real
merit. I want to take you over an improvement I had patented. I secured
an old trick, in the form of a tin box three inches long, having a
cap at each end. A cent would be dropped in through an opening in the
top. The central portion was double, the outer sleeve was loose and
could be pushed up and down; a slot in its side hid by the cap would
register, when pushed up, with a slot in the inner part; by tilting the
box the cent would drop through these slots into the hand. Then the
loose sleeve had to be worked back into position so that the cap hid
the slot. The operation was slow and somewhat difficult. It occurred
to me to make the box of wood and provide it with a slanting bottom on
the inside. This would lead the cent right up to the slot, and it would
come out without tilting the box; also by using a spring it became
automatic, i. e., the spring would push it back into position.

The trick can be done at least five times while it is done once with
the tin box. It made an A1 trick box. It would be a good seller on the
street, but in stores they would forget how to work it, and stores
can't spare the time to demonstrate, so it did not go well in stores.
The boxes were made complete for $4.50 per gross, sold to jobbers at $7
and to retailers at $9. They retailed at 10 cents. They were made on a
lathe and nicely polished, packed one dozen in a box. I think in nine
cases out of ten it is best to contract with some good firm to make the
device. You will have plenty to do selling it. You can easily get some
one to make the goods, but it is not so easy to get one who can sell
them and push them properly. I tried manufacturing and don't like it.

    Ideas are common and belong to all,
    The methods to the first should fall.

As a matter of fact, you can't patent an idea. You patent the method,
or device. Some patents may perforce virtually cover the idea as a
consequence of there being no alternative. A needle for machines with
the eye in the point, the wedge adjuster in the linotype machines.
Patents of that class, when good, are extra valuable, because they
can't be improved. We also can sometimes make an article in common use
by a patented machine and have a very secure thing. I think wire nails
come under this head. Speaking of wire calls to mind the key ring; many
millions have been sold.

Possibly a brake could be made in the form of a wedge suspended in
front of the wheel by a chain in a way that it could be moved so that
the wheel would run on it and thus stop the vehicle.

I don't know the particulars, and so I only speak in a general way.
A patent was procured on a knife with an irregular or sawlike edge.
It was recommended to cut bread, cake, etc.; could cut without much
downward pressure, which made the bread, etc., soggy. Probably a good
thing. A party patented an improvement, making his knife with a wave
edge for the same purpose. Well, I would have compelled No. 2 to pay
No. 1 a small royalty.

Have you ever seen the little tugboats doing their work, taking the
big ships into dock? Do you know how they steer? They have a propeller
close up to the stern; just beyond is the rudder. Both are in line with
the centre. The turning of the propeller throws a strong current past
both sides of the rudder and away from the tug. By turning the rudder
so that the current strikes it the vessel is forced around; it acts as
though pivoted in the centre, the ends going in opposite directions. In
the early days they tried to move the vessel by blowing wind against
the sails with a bellows stationed on the vessel. They overlooked the
reaction, and were surprised that the vessel did not move.

Can you construct a box having a drawer so arranged that you could put
an object in it, close and open it and have the object disappear?

I frequently meet the gentleman who got up the "Donkey Party." It
certainly was amusing. The fifteen puzzle took the country by storm.
Pigs in Clover was great, but too many imitations. The idea of printing
animals on calico, so that they could be cut, sewed and stuffed at home
was no doubt profitable.

It was clever to shape the crackers like the oysters. An Elephant or
Teddy Bears brand of popcorn might take. The old sand box toys took
well. They operated mechanical figures on the hour glass principle.
Millions of little wire hooks have been sold to hang things on
Christmas trees. A simple device to revolve the tree should sell well.
A small generative battery could electric light the tree. It injures
the showcase to drop the money on it, and at times it is difficult to
pick up the change. The little porcupine-like rubber mat is handy. The
cigar cutter is all right. A revolving needle might be used to improve
the draft of the improperly made cigars; it would be more practical
than the porous plasters frequently recommended on the back of the head
for the same purpose.

I guess the hen, in her quill, has us all beat on toothpicks. A man who
built a large stack at his mill to get a better draft for the fire had
an eight-inch pipe leading from the fireplace. It met an obstruction
and was divided into two four-inch pipes, one going on either side of
the obstruction and thence to the stack. When the work was completed
the fire did no better than before. The builder was much disappointed
and puzzled. He could not understand it. Can you observe what was the
matter? It should be apparent at a glance. He shut off half of the
draft. An eight-inch pipe is equal to four four-inch pipes. To observe
you must observe. Why do people read fiction? A lady was annoyed by her
hair coming down. She finally bent the hairpin. Her husband patented
the idea and they made a fortune. The idea of a paragon frame for
umbrellas proved a mint. Rubber dress shields, lined, made thousands.
It is said wooden shoepegs paid millions. "Truth is stranger than

Toy guns are pretty old, and mama had always been nervous over the
arrows, caps, etc. I patented the harmless gun in 1883--had it fire a
hollow rubber ball. I supplied the trade for twelve years, and then
sold the patent for $1,200. The invention has paid in all probably
$50,000, and the guns are for sale in the stores as usual. In fact,
all that my patent covered was the idea of a string made fast to the
rear of the plunger and extending back to the outside, on the bottom
edge of the stock, so that the spring or plunger could be pulled back
into position, instead of using a ramrod to push it back, as in other
toy guns. Perfecting the details of this gun called for much more
study than did taking out the patent. At first the end of the plunger
rod would wedge in the barrel on striking the hollow ball. The end of
the plunger was flat, a very small portion of the ball touched it,
and hence would naturally dent and wedge. It was remedied by making
the end of the plunger concave, so that in striking the ball it would
come in contact with a greater surface and not dent. The point where
the string, which was pulled to set the spring, came out of the stock,
would split out, and we could not satisfactorily fasten on a brass
plate with an eyeletted hole. This was overcome by boring the hole
large and gluing in a round piece with a hole through the centre. It
was then cut down in the sandpapering, and was quite unnoticeable. It
worked like a charm. It was difficult to get the hollow rubber balls
at a low cost: two cents each was quoted. They took a square piece of
thin rubber, pinched it up with the fingers, put some water in, then
put cement on the edges, placed it in an iron mold and put it in the
furnace. The water turned to steam and forced the rubber in the shape
of the mould; the vulcanizing would cause it to stay in position, but
many would leak and not shape right. The process was improved by using
tubing cut proper length and pieces punched out of a flat sheet to fit
over the ends. It was a success, and few ever failed to properly shape.
One gross was made at a time. They cost less than one cent each. For a
while $15 per thousand was the best price quoted for the brass eagles
used on the stock for ornament. These were finally secured at $6, and
a number of hundred thousand were used. Seven small wood turnings were
used in each gun. The first lot of one thousand of these turnings cost
$7.50. They were made on a lathe by hand. Then they were secured at
$2.50 per thousand, done by machine, and finally they were contracted
at 70 cents per thousand. A paper tube, painted and silver bronzed,
made a good barrel. I thought these details might interest. They are
"all wool and a yard wide." "One fact is worth a book full of theories."

Toys present a good field for inventors. They pay well usually, and are
easy to handle. You must hold your prices firmly; treat all jobbers
alike, no matter whether they buy one or one hundred gross. If you
favor one you offend all the rest. Be impartial. Cities are growing so
large, rents are soaring so high and store space seems to be getting so
crowded, possibly a fixture of store shelves could be arranged on the
Ferris Wheel plan and put into position above the counter to help the

Mucilage evaporates so fast. They have fountain pens. Can any of you
get up a fountain mucilage pen or brush? I guess we are a little late
for ink bottles and spittoons that won't spill the contents upon
upsetting. A thought in mind seems to constantly annoy. Readers, no
doubt, if they have the patience to read the whole of this pamphlet,
will possibly wonder what it is all about. Well, they need not ponder.
The student who is alive to the subject will understand; he will
take the time and allow his thoughts to dwell on each little subject
mentioned. I believe in as much original gray matter "horse sense" and
facts as circumstances permit, that every time you bump up against it
you find something out. "Sabe."

Have you ever studied the philosophy of trains going around curves.
The wheels have a flange on one side and taper to the other side. They
stand on the track with the flange on the inside. When they come to the
curve, in which the outside rail is always set higher than the inside
one, and is necessarily longer, the flange presses against it, and that
wheel is running on its largest diameter while the opposite wheel is on
its smallest diameter. This fact, together with the slipping, enables
the outside wheel to go over a greater length of rail than the inside
wheel, though both are secured rigidly to the same axle. The train has
a tendency to go straight ahead; the outside rail being higher causes
it to constantly slip a little. The bent rail keeps prying the flange
over, as it were, and the train is brought around the curve safely.

Sometimes it pays to learn some things not generally considered as
being immediately connected with one's regular calling. I heard of
a noted Chinese doctor who had a very bright son who was studying
medicine at college. An epidemic set in, the doctor was sent for and
went from one case to another. He was quite an athlete and a good
swimmer. Soon the village people concluded the doctor was the cause
of all the sickness and decided to thrash him. The doctor ran for his
life, the crowd close on his heels. Finally he came to a river, plunged
in and swam to the opposite side. No one in the crowd could swim--the
doctor was safe. He went home and the bright young son answered the
door and said, "Father, I need the money for some books at college
the teacher recommends." The father's mind was full of thought of the
experience he had just gone through, and he said, "My son, with due
respect to your teacher, I advise that you first learn to swim; it may
some day be more important than any of your studies."

    Don't be an idle spectator of life,
    Create splendor for others' view.

Do I think ladies could invent? Well, at the present moment I feel
like saying most decidedly yes. Why, you yourself made a splendid
observation. Don't you recall saying the horses lost a great portion
of their food by tossing their heads about while eating? Well, yes,
the flies are annoying, but I think there is another reason. Well, you
see they strap the full feed bag to the horse's head. At first the
adjustment is good enough, but as the horse eats the surface of the
food recedes and soon the adjustment becomes bad. The horse can no
longer reach the food, and tosses his head about in an effort to get
it. Well, we observed, thought, and as a consequence have a problem to
work out. Yes, I think we might overcome the difficulty. Why, exactly,
splendid; we can properly adjust the springs and fasten them in the
handle or hanging straps that hold the feed bag to the horse. Then, as
he eats and the weight becomes less, the springs will cause the bag
to rise and the adjustment will be proper throughout. Yes, that is a
real invention. We are inventors. We will use a perforated bag. Why, I
think we might call it "The Automatic Ventilated Feed Bag." The horse
will thank us, and we will become so rich. Salt cellars don't work
good in damp weather--the salt cakes. You should work out that problem
by the "Think a little" rule. A flagpole to operate the flag on the
principle of the spring roller window curtain; make the political
banner collapsible. Pass tops by, too many already; besides I have been
sore on them since youth, when I tried to make one to wind up with a
key and run all day. It was a long time before I replaced my watch, the
works of which I used in that top. Did it spin? "Nope." Postage stamp
affixer. No, pass it. It may do later on when you are more experienced.
I had some dealings with a simple kind: it looked and worked like a
rubber stamp, but the moisture from the sponge soon got in among the
stamps--impractical. It should be quite easy to make a chute wagon that
would unload coal while standing lengthwise along the curb, so as not
to block the cars.

Suppose you wish to cause a toy man to pass around a six-inch circle
and at the same time constantly revolve, could you contrive to make
it work by turning a crank? It is good practice to work all puzzles
and problems you find. It cultivates reasoning and gives you splendid
practice on concentrating your thought. It makes you a close observer
and becomes a valuable asset for use in any walk of life. Some people
don't seem to notice anything--or, at least, very few things. I one
time had an amusing debate with a man. He insisted he moved his upper
jaw in eating. He proved it conclusively to himself by biting on his
finger. How many of you know the difference between a horse and a cow
in getting up? I hope a half dozen dozen and six dozen dozen don't look
alike to you. You must get things exactly as they are in your mind;
then only will you have a true basis to reason from. Don't go through
life with the idea that everything is "about the size of a piece of

Many people will say to those who invent, "How did you come to think of
it? I could never think of anything." The main trouble is they don't
think at all. If they would take an interest in things and examine
them closely, study them until they can clearly explain every detail,
it would be a reasonably short time until they would think of other
things and invent. The inventor should be sanguine and hopeful. It
spurs him on and helps him to wade through discouragement. Possibly as
like produces like, like thoughts produce like thoughts, fear thoughts
produce fear thoughts. You must have a little of the big I in you.

    "He who dares assert the I
     May calmly wait, while hurrying fate
     Meets his demands with sure supply."

I don't mean that you should sit down and expect to invent by mere
weight of thought. That would be like watching the clock to see the
hour pass by. I mean you should make the start. Begin by noticing how
things are done. Interest your thoughts on the subject. Keep the matter
in mind. Time will pass by pleasantly and some morning you will find
your mind engrossed with an idea of an invention or an improvement on
one, and that day will appear the brightest in your life. The more you
study over what others have done, the sooner you will do something
yourself. I fear you won't study. Now let me see; take that trick box.
In No. 1 they tilted the box to get the cent out. Well, by tilting
the box they simply put the flat bottom on a slant and the cent slid
out. That could be improved in working by making a slanting bottom.
Again, in No. 1, after they worked the outer sleeve up so that the
openings registered and allowed the cent to slide out, they then worked
the outer sleeve back into position, so that the side of the cap hid
the slot. That work could be saved by inserting a spring, and so you
should take up each feature, learn the reason why, and impress it on
your mind. Confine yourself to the very simple things. Later on you
will take interest in the larger ones, but at first they would likely
discourage you, though the large inventions are only a combination
of simple ideas. The telegraph sounds big. In the first place, it
was simply a discovery. The electric current magnetized the wire so
that it attracted metal, and would do so no matter how long the wire
(within reason). Now, they could not well arrange to move the magnet
over the paper to do the writing, so they thought to make it stationary
and move the paper. The machine to do this was the biggest part of
the invention. The code or Morse alphabet followed, by arranging the
dots and dashes to represent the letters. If a massive structure were
built of bricks, broad, high walls, square and round towers, high,
commanding, arched doorway, facades, ledges, etc., you would stand and
gaze in bewildering admiration at the grand, colossal structure. Yet it
is only a combination of bricks. And what are bricks, pray? Only clay
molded into shape and baked in an oven. No man ever invented a great
machine unless he was an adept in the line of simple things, or he
engaged assistance from those who were. Don't underrate the importance
of these simple ideas. Take each one up, consider and go over it as
carefully as though it were new--your own thought--and as though you
were going to apply for a patent on it. If you can't enthuse and work
or study in earnest on these matters you are surely on the wrong line
for you. Get off and devote your time to some other pursuit. You must
be in earnest and willing to persevere. Keep everlastingly at it.
Dabblers rarely ever succeed at anything. I saw a patented churn. It
was a plain tank and a long round handle with propeller blades set on
the end. The propeller was pushed down through the cream. It did not
revolve, and hence agitated the cream very much. Then, when it was
pulled up to the top, the propeller revolved and the cream was scarcely
moved. In going down the propeller would move up about one inch and
lock. In pulling up it would move back and unlock. I remember the man
who patented an iron ore washer. It was a large tank affair, say eight
feet long, three feet at one end and six feet at the other. Inside it
was lined with iron plates having a flange projecting upward. These
were fastened so that the flanges formed a spiral from the large to the
small end. An axle was placed in the centre by braces. The large end
almost touched the ground; the small end was, say, two feet above the
ground. The ore dirt was shoveled in the big end. A stream of water
entered the small end. The washer was revolved. The dirt ran out with
the water. The ore was worked by the flanges up to and fell out of the
small end. I met a party who had a patented bung for barrels. It looked
like a straight piece of round wood. I inquired, what is the patent.
He said, bungs blow out of barrels, but his would not, because it was
first made larger at one end than the other, then by driving it through
a tube it was forced equal at each end. The original big end was marked
and put in the bung hole. The liquid would cause it to swell to its
former size. It could not blow out, and to tap the barrel it was driven
in. The shores of Lake Superior are full of fine iron ore, probably
millions of dollars worth. A party got up an electrical separator.
To reclaim the iron sounds big. Let us see. An iron cylinder, an
electrical battery or dynamo to charge and magnetize it, a long trough
with a moving belt in the bottom. The sand and fine iron were shoveled
on the belt and carried up to and fell on one side of the revolving
magnetized cylinder. The iron adhered, and as the separator revolved
it was scraped off on the other side. Some ten years ago I wrote to
a number of chewing gum firms and proposed they make sugar-coated
tablets. They did not enthuse and I dropped the matter. To-day it
forms quite a business. About twenty-five years ago I proposed to put
India-rubber along the water line of war ships, so that when struck
the hole would close and prevent the water going in. To-day every war
ship is equipped with that idea, using cellulose instead of rubber. So,
don't give up your ideas too quickly. Become well convinced before you
drop them. During the past month I read an article stating that the
railroads required a heavier rail. I thought the added weight might be
used to make the rail alike top and bottom--a double rail--so that when
one side wore out the rail could be turned and virtually have a new
one, and it being on the ground would save the handling in the second
case. A special shoe would secure it to the tie. First costs are often
increased to get economic results. I simply advance the idea. Any one
interested can put it in their pipe and smoke it. If any of you use a
rubber ball in the heel of the shoe to make walking comfortable you
may be able to fit a small tube and have it arranged to ventilate the
toe of the shoe. A party made a horseshoe having a toe piece of three
parts. The centre was very hard steel; the outsides were soft. They
wore down and the hard centre stuck up. It was always sharp. He said
the blacksmiths would not handle them because it hurt their business.

It always seemed a good idea to make a wheel so that the spokes formed
a hub at the centre. If all the people were alive to their needs all
hats would be ventilated. The corrugated band is a good idea, as far
as it goes. It should be supplemented with vents in sides or top. Do
you know they paint ships without brushes? Simply spray it on with
an atomizer and sweep with a suction hose. I hope it will be after
my day when some of you get up a machine to do the eating. A cannon
was mounted with mechanism to absorb the recoil and other service. A
hole was drilled through the side of the cannon about one foot from
the end or muzzle. A tube was fitted and extended rearward to the
mechanism. When the cannon was fired the pressure became very great in
the chamber, and the instant the projectile passed the drilled hole,
and until it left the gun, this high pressure or power went through the
tube and worked the mechanism at the rear of the gun. I know hoopskirts
are long out of style. Could a flexible metal band be arranged at the
bottom of pants and end of coat sleeves, so that they need not be sewed
and could be worked to shorten or lengthen them, as desired?

I saw a funnel that had a wire rod running down to the small end. A
ball on the end of the rod was used to close or open the funnel. When
the bottle was full you could close the funnel, and no more would run
out of it. I don't think there is a good nutmeg grater on the market.
The price at retail should not be above 10 cents. It should have a
good appearance, convenient and practical. It should all be enclosed,
fly proof and dust proof--a sanitary grater. There is a chance to
improve a match box to hang on the wall, something that won't show the
marks. You should be alive to the difference between goods being on
sale at stores and taking hold of a specialty and pushing it.

Sometimes the horses are driven with slack lines, and shy or scare
suddenly. Often the driver is bothered to take up the slack. Could you
invent handles to put on the lines that could be moved forward easily,
have them grip so not to slip back until a spring or catch released
them? I don't understand why they don't connect the shafts to the
vehicle so that they could be instantly disconnected in case the horse
ran away.

They sell a number of popcorn roasters. One to revolve should prove a
good seller. The shaking plan is very tiresome. Some arrangement should
be put on the bootblack boy's box to prevent the foot from slipping
off. A propeller rocket could be made to go very high. Could you make
a metal frame that any one, by using a strong manila paper, could make
a pocketbook to hold notes, bills, etc.? How do you like a wire device
to be put on rolls of ribbon to keep them from unwinding in the retail
stores? A watch might be made so that the opening and closing of the
lid would keep it wound up. I have not been inside a school for a long
time. Perhaps they have holders to prevent the chalk crayons from

Did you ever cut a round piece of cardboard in a strip, say one-half
inch wide, cutting round and round to the centre, then set it on a
knitting needle, place it over the stove and see it turn? The heat
from a small wax candle should turn a Christmas tree lamp on the same
principle. Now they make wood lead pencils that require no sharpening.
The lead is loose. A slot down the side of the pencil enables one to
advance the lead as required. Elections call forth many ideas as to
the best form of balloting. I think a very safe form of voting would
be to have two large iron boxes with mechanism and a long roll of
paper, proper width, with the ballots printed on it; a flat space or
table between the boxes; the long paper tape of ballots would be wound
up on a roller in one box and unwound into the other, the ballots to
be numbered consecutively. A voter steps up and proves his right to
vote; then he marks his vote on ballot No. 1, which shows on the flat
place between the boxes. The judges then turn a crank. That ballot
moves into the other box and the next adjoining ballot appears on the
flat place. Such a plan would be free from stuffing, and ought to give
reasonable satisfaction. The various styles of folding boxes are good
illustrations of the single idea inventions. Many flourishing concerns
are based on same. To be an inventor one should be a close observer.
They should make sure of just what they see. I heard of a business man
who had a very valuable horse. He left particular orders that great
care should be taken and see that the horse did not get loose and go in
the new clover field. He went off to his business, some distance away,
and soon a neighbor came at top speed and said, "Your horse is in the
clover field." The business man left his office in great haste and ran
home, where he found the horse in the stable where he had left him.
The cow had been put in the clover field. The neighbor said he did not
look so very close. He saw an animal in the field. It seemed to have
four corners, with a leg from each corner to the ground, and thought it
might be the horse. He wouldn't make an inventor--"A left-over in the
process of nature's selection." A device to turn the sheets of music
for piano players should be worthy of study. Some one ought to get up
a paste that could be put in a tooth and adhere. It should become hard
and be lasting. Most anything to obviate the barbarous riveting process.

Has it ever occurred to you the vast amount of waste going on in
putting up goods in tin packages? It presents a great field for
invention of the simple "lucky" kind. The person who hits the right
thing will become vastly wealthy. Try to devise a shape of package
that will answer and be useful after it is emptied. Now, simply to
illustrate the idea, say we put tomatoes up in a tin cup with a lid
that would serve as a cake cutter. Nice little buckets might answer.
Smoking tobacco packages ought to answer for match boxes to hang on the
wall. Come, now, there is a fortune waiting. Who among the students
will be first to claim it? Nothing would please me more than to hear of
some one or more of you making a hit. Think. "He who would eat the nut
must crack it."

Some people think there have been so many patents taken out already
there is no chance to get up any more. The truth is, no doubt, the
chances are on the increase. New sciences are being developed, as for
instance, electricity, and each new machine turns out work that enables
the inventor to do something he could not well do before. Machinery now
will shape wire to any required form; castings are greatly improved;
wood turnings are cheap and in almost every imaginable shape. The
inventor of to-day has almost every possible detail want at hand, and
so he can undertake things heretofore out of reach. Naturally, as the
country grows things come into demand that were not worth while before.
Indeed, from every point of view the field seems to broaden.

Suppose a two-inch tube has a one-inch hole through the side. It is
desired to cover the hole with a band, so arranged that when the band
is turned it will revolve a rod inside of the tube. Can you reason how
to do it? Grates used under boilers for steam purposes expand when
heated. When cast in one piece the bars warp and soon wear out. A grate
was patented made in pieces; each single bar was loose; due allowance
was made for expansion. They are oval on top, broad and tapering. They
do not warp. The space between the bars widened towards the bottom,
hence the ashes would not clog. Draw an end view of such bars; the idea
will show plainly. I favor drawing to impress thought. The matter rests
with yourself. "You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him

Since so simple a device as an air cushion will render the fall of
an elevator harmless, there should be something doing with trains of
cars. No telescoping. Who will quiet the awful noise of the trolley
car, particularly in cities? Overhead they might slide the cars to
advantage, using a cog motor on third rail. Method is a species of
invention. It lends force to action.

What day of the week was March 20, 1886?

    1.    86--The last two figures of the date.
    2.    21--Take one-fourth; don't use fractions.
    3.    20--The day of the month.
    4.     6--Ratio; see table below.
    5. 7/133--Divide by 7.
          19 and no rem.; Sat., 1 rem.; Sun., 2 rem.; Mon., etc.

Table of ratio, 366240251361, being a figure for each month, beginning
January 3, etc.

Now, I wish you to practice this method to memorize the table of ratio:

    1. Please remember 3.
    2. Think double double, and you have 6 6      366
    3. It is 240,000 miles to the moon            240
    4. Add 11 to the unit side                    251
    5. Add 11 to the hundred side                 361

You should get that in a minute.

For dates in the 20th century add 5 before dividing by 7.

For leap years make the ratio for January and February one less than in
the table.

                     Try this for the Presidents

    Washington                                         Jackson
              Adams                                Adams
                  Jefferson                   Monroe
    W      A      J      -      M      -    M      A      J

                        Van Buren and Harrison
    Tyler                     Polk         and        Taylor
    Fillmore                  Pierce                  Buchanan
    Lincoln                   Johnson                 Grant
    Hayes                     Garfield     and        Arthur
    Cleveland                 Harrison                Cleveland
                      McKinley   and   Roosevelt

Read across the page. Begin with the seven large initials, they will
soon impress on the mind, then get the names they stand for. Then
simply remember Van Buren and Harrison, the remainder in the form given
across the page have a sort of a sing song that soon grows fast.

Incidentally learn the given names.

When we look at the watch we must make a mental calculation to state
the time. I heard of a watch that had three circular openings in the
front case, one on each side and one on the bottom; the latter showed
the second hand. The one on the left showed the hour, and on the right
the number of minutes past the hour were shown. If it were twenty
minutes past ten we would see ten and twenty. There was no mental
calculation required.

No doubt you have all seen the little egg separator, a circular piece
of sheet metal having a concave centre with little slots near the top
of the concave portion. It is placed on a cup. The egg broken and
contents placed in the separator, the white runs through the slots into
the cup and the yolk remains in the separator.

A good ink tablet should be a good thing. They certainly would be a
great convenience, and should do for fountain pens too. I have often
thought that chairs are not made right. When you lean back the front
part of the seat rises and it tends to stop circulation in the limbs.
Could the seat part be so hinged or arranged that the front portion
would not rise, or would it answer to simply have the back hinged?

The stem wind on the watch was a very simple thought, and should have
been forced on the mind every time the key was lost. "Necessity is the
mother of invention."

I advise all who have any idea of inventing to practice drawing. It is
an excellent practice and makes one a close observer. In thinking of
subjects combining several movements or features the drawing clinches
them; oftentimes the idea will slip the mind, and puzzle as we will we
can't recall it at the desired time. "Now you shall wish, but wish in
vain to call the fleeting words again." When you draw it it is there.
You can leave it and take up any part you wish to consider. There is a
lot of studying to do to equip yourself well for inventing. The better
you are equipped the better your chances. But you should look upon the
work as a pleasure. Then each thing you learn will please. I don't
believe in scolding the learning into people. We should aim to make
learning pleasant and agreeable. I know the subject is dry to many. I
don't wish to weary, remember.

    "It's pennies for labor and dollars for thought."

A contractor was building a pier at the seashore. When he tried to
drive the piles down into the sand they would continually bounce up. He
became very much discouraged; he was completely puzzled. It baffled his
wits. A gentleman from the West was visiting at the resort. He became
very deeply interested in the little clams. He was amused to see how
quickly they could go down in the sand. He visited the pier and learned
of the contractor's troubles. He sought him and advised that a hose be
attached to the pile and force a stream of water ahead of it as it was
driven down. The idea worked very satisfactorily. Observation. Yes,
ideas are good things. A cow had fallen in a well that was being dug.
The neighbors gathered about the well, which was ten feet deep. No one
could suggest a means to rescue the cow. An old darkey passing by was
attracted by the crowd. He looked down into the well and saw the cow
apparently unhurt. He said, "Let's git her out." "How?" they sang in
chorus. "Why, jist shovel de sand back inter de well; she'll keep on

During the siege of Paris they wrote letters and reduced them in size
until they looked like mere dots to the naked eye. They were then sent
out on pigeons and magnified to the original size. That is possibly the
basis of a freak thought. Suppose a $1 bill was placed on a hillside;
we go a distance away and take a photograph of one mile square of the
hillside, having the bill exactly in the centre. Say the photograph
is one foot square. Now we cut off one and three-quarter inches all
the way around the picture, leaving say one-half of the same. Then
we enlarge this to one foot square and repeat until the foot square
picture shows say ten feet square of hillside with the bill in plain
view in the centre. If that could be done we could examine the moon and
planets too, very closely.

    "One science only can one genius fit,
     So vast is art, so narrow human wit."

Probably the most uncertain feature of a majority of patents is, will
the people buy them? The theory of most patents is plausible enough.
But often the practice or fact is very doubtful. The public seem to be
whimsical and act as the spirit moves them, oftentimes without rhyme
or reason; things become a fad or are turned down. They spring up and
die like a flower. There is no rule. You must take your chance. It is a
natural stumbling block. You must be sanguine to invent and cautious to
keep off of wrong leads. Take the matter philosophically. Don't allow
it to irritate. You can counsel with practical people and those whom
you expect to use your device. Feel your way the best you can. When
ready, take your plunge, and be satisfied to settle the matter, either
as a success or failure. If the latter, make your bow, "Nor with weight
of words offend the ear."

There seems to be no rule; they come and go. The first time I saw a
match with the handle end fire proofed, so not to burn the finger,
it looked good. I thought all matches would be made that way. Now I
scarcely ever see one.

The little brass-like boxes with a spring lid and about sixty matches,
all for one cent at retail, tells the story of cheap labor by
machinery. I saw a match box in the form of a house. The low chimney
in the centre of the roof was as long as a match and very narrow; a
flat piece with a gutter in the top edge filled the inside of the
chimney. The house would be pulled up and then pushed down; always a
match would be in the guttered end of the piece in the chimney. I did
not examine it, but it no doubt had a slanting bottom on the inside.
The piece in the chimney was stationary. The house would rise high
enough so that the top of the guttered piece would be at the bottom
of the slanting sides. The matches would roll over it, and one would
lodge in the guttered top. When the house was pushed back it was at
the top of the chimney, ready for use. It embodies an idea, and so I
will give it. Some houses become infested with active insects, to the
very great annoyance of the occupants. If you ever happen to have the
occasion, put a few sheets of sticky fly paper on the floor at night;
place a small piece of raw meat in the centre of each. They will all be
there in the morning. They hop for the meat and linger on the paper.
Stop laughing and think. Suppose you had no sticky fly paper nor
molasses, would you think to try a plate with water on it and the meat
in the centre? Thinking how to substitute one plan for another is good
exercise. Look out when you do it, or you will invent. The gyroscope
top is certainly very peculiar in its movements. It is an enigma to
science. It is proposed to run a car on a single rail by having two
gyroscopes mounted within the car. In rowing a boat the position is
such that the power does not continue in full to the extreme end of the
stroke. Possibly the blade could be pivoted to the oar, so that at the
best point in the stroke for the purpose it would press a spring, which
would release itself at the end of the stroke to advantage.

The elbow for stove pipes was a fine idea, also the spring rollers
for window curtains. The mail box in use is good. Indeed, it should
be quite natural for a person to enthuse. I patented a child's riding
stick, hollow wheels at one end, horse head with moveable jaw at other.
Can you reason how to make the jaw work? No doubt you rode on summer
trolley cars and pushed up and pulled down the curtains. But do you
know how they are constructed? The curtain is attached to a spring
roller, and has an iron tube on the end. Two wire cords, one on either
side of the frame, are fastened at the top. Each passes through the
tube and is fastened again at the bottom. Thus the cords cross in the
tube, which can be pushed up, the spring roller taking up the slack
curtain; or it can be pulled down, the curtain unwinding. If you will
only observe closely you will see ideas carried out on every hand. When
you come to invent the knowledge of them will give you confidence and
help you very much. But it will not suffice to simply read of them.
You must study, learn and impress the principle on your mind. It is
learning, not reading, that counts. It has always seemed queer to me
that so many ideas spring up and flourish for a while, then die and
are forgotten. Many good ideas for the personal benefit of the buyer
don't seem to go at all. If an article pleased one generation, why not
the next? It is so in many things and not so in many others. Judgment
is required to distinguish standard from transient. A life preserver,
say of oiled goods, with a spring inside, flat, the size of a plate
when operated, three feet long and able to float a person. Convenient
fasteners for room doors with poor locks, burglar alarms and portable
fire escapes, all worth their weight in gold when required. A few
poles and strands of wire, an electrically controlled carriage and an
operator would drop a life preserver every few feet of the bathing
surface. They are all good subjects for the people in the troubles, but
you would go to bed hungry trying to sell the goods. Two wire cables
across the street from the big hotels, to operate a draw bridge, at
times would save hundreds, as would a tunnel from amusement places.
Steel cars would prevent the terrible fires when wrecked, and save many
lives. It seems the people want something to eat, wear or to amuse for
their money. It has been a much mooted question, and as it involves
an idea it may not be amiss. How to make fire from wood: You would
get very tired rubbing two pieces of rotten wood together. Select a
dry, well-seasoned block; nick or deeply dent the surface with a sharp
stone. Provide an arrow-like stick, and a bow and string much like the
bow and arrow. Stand the arrow-like stick in the dented surface of the
block. The bow has the string fast at each end. Make one wrap of the
string around the arrow, which you steady with one hand and work the
bow back and forth with the other. Mechanics would call it a fiddle
drill. The arrow-like stick will turn rapidly. The friction will create
a dust-like, fibrous mess, which will soon burn. Then blow and have a

Make a currycomb with wire teeth: Have a sheet of metal proper shape
perforated to receive the wire teeth, and rest at the bottom of the
brush. After cleaning the horse pull the metal sheet up, thus cleaning
the comb. For a window sash without weights follow the trolley curtain.
If a stirrup had an open bottom, save a small cleet on each side to
rest the foot on, in case the rider was thrown the foot would turn and
come out.

I don't believe in the strenuous life. It is the "happy medium" that
appeals to me. We must have time to think. I don't mean to hesitate.
We should think in advance as far as possible. Think, so that you will
know better what to do. Try not to become confused; act with good
judgment. A doctor was expecting a load of hay. On returning home at
noon he noticed a load upset in front of his gate. A boy with a fork
in his hands looked bewildered. The doctor inquired and was told the
hay was for him. "Ah, well," he said to the boy, "come in and have
some dinner." "Oh, indeed, sir, I can't; my father would not like it.
I must move the hay." "Oh, yes," said the doctor, "come." The boy was
hungry and willing, but insisted his father would not like it. Finally
he reluctantly yielded. But he ate so fast the doctor cautioned him in
vain. He would reply, "I am sure father won't like it." Finally the
doctor asked, "Where is your father?" "Why," said the boy, "he's under
that load of hay."

I noticed in a paper that the Government desired a device to secure
packages of letters in transit from one place to another. They use
string, and it costs over $200,000 per year. A billion of packages
are tied up annually. At first glance, considering security, etc., I
rather think a telescopic box would be best. But the cost, wear and
tear, extra weight in freight all act to make the box impracticable.
Indeed, if the matter is to be governed by cost, I advise our dear old
Uncle Sam to stick to his string. The common shipping tag which has the
washer-like piece of cardboard to reinforce the tie hole is simple and
good. It is cheap and stronger, indeed, than the metal eyelets.

The ball and socket fastener used on gloves, suspenders and many other
things is very good. It fell in the lap of a Frenchman.

A great variety of fasteners to hold sheets of paper together have
a large sale. In most all cases they aim to hold the paper without
puncturing it.

The name Uneeda was coined, tied fast to a biscuit and became famous.

S. T. 1860 X was an oldtimer. I believe it meant "sure thing in ten
years from 1860."

I think a good ash sifter could be made with a box, say two by three
feet, and a cylindrical sieve on an axle with a crank handle. The sieve
to be provided with a door or lid, the ashes put in and the sieve
revolved. The operation should be easy. It was a good idea to make
circular zinc pieces to put under stoves; also the circular pieces used
in pipe holes to close them in summer. The little bell-shaped guards
hung from the ceiling to protect it from the gas jets was good, very
simple and quite natural. The little burners on the gas fixtures are

I met a gentleman who was blind. He took out a patent for a handle for
a scrub brush. It could be attached and detached at will. The barn
doors hung on wheels on a track was a good job; also the gates that
open when the team approaches. The lawn mower was not slow. Games are
a very uncertain field to work in, though some of the standard games
have been very profitable. They must be gotten up in elaborate manner,
and as a rule must be well advertised. Many little puzzles have paid
well, but they are invariably greatly exaggerated. The matters that
come under the head of copyright are, I think, a good field to work
in. The money success of these things depends principally on how well
they are handled. There are many ways to make sales, many channels to
work in. I am of the opinion that a large per cent. of inventors would
do better to put their inventions out on royalty or sell. I am sure
those who have invented will do so again and again if they are not too
busily engaged otherwise. Hence I claim it best, generally speaking, to
sell or place on royalty, and then invent something else. Inventing is
really a profession--so is manufacturing.

    "Let the cobbler stick to his last."

The strenuous life, like baby's suit, is soon outgrown. Then what
to do becomes important. I think every city of fair size in the
country should have a trades exchange. A man or woman opens a store
and announces they will receive goods of all descriptions to sell or
exchange, give a descriptive receipt for the goods, charging, say
ten per cent. for services, when sold or exchanged. You can make
a good white soap for say two cents per pound; put it up in one
and a quarter pound cakes and sell direct to the consumer for five
cents--give premiums for your wrappers. Take a contract to increase
the circulation of your country or town paper; then visit the people,
prepare an article on the city or town, and write up sketches of those
who subscribe. Mail order business will pay fairly well from any
point if you deal right. Never sell anything unless it is worth the
money, and don't introduce any fake schemes. Get some good novelties,
household articles, books, etc.; select good leaders to advertise, and
when you make a sale enclose circulars of the other goods; soon you
can have a catalogue. Study the papers you advertise in; there are
many quacks--you can tell them by the character of their advertising.
Public catalogues soon become too common; also you should handle the
goods you sell. Then you can control the matter better. Lists of names
are generally drummed too much before you get them. Once you begin to
advertise you will get informed of live papers and live goods to push.

For personal canvassing a clothes bar made of half-inch round pieces,
fastened to ends in the form of an X with an inverted V on top; they
open and close, and will form a dryer, a basket and a sort of table to
air a bed on. They should weigh six pounds and sell for $1.25; cost,
say forty to fifty cents. Say a country weekly, single sheet, one fold,
wants to boom the subscription list. Reserve suitable space, say at the
double corner, for four pages of any book chosen. In a year they have a
208 page book.

    "Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
     The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear.
     Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
     And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

Yes, the woods are full of them. The future inventions will rival those
of the past. You should prepare and cast your net. If you choose "luck"
may come your way, opportunity may faintly knock. You should be alert,
comprehend and intelligently pursue. You must know the form and touch,
lest its presence be unknown.

    "Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
     The saddest are these: it might have been."

Those who would be inventors should take up the helpful studies to
that end, viz.: Mathematics in all its branches, philosophy, physics,
all mechanical works and drawing. Interest yourself in all kinds of
puzzles, observe closely. Begin early in life to study.

    "Children, like tender osiers, take the bow,
     And as they first are fashioned always grow."

Finished! Don't say you do not like it. We can find reasons to like
anything. It all depends on the way we view it. I heard of an Irishman
who imbibed too freely in a Western town and was ridden through the
place on a rail. The people lined the streets and cheered lustily.
After it was all over some one asked him what he thought of it. "Be
gorra," says he, "if it wasn't fur the honor of the thing I'd about as
lave walk."

If this little pamphlet turns out to be a cue which directs new thought
into the vast unlimited field of invention, its mission will be filled.
Possibly some day the subject will be taught in the schools; possibly
those scholars will be the most practical people on the earth; possibly
their influence in the land will wield a mighty Niagara of power.

    THE END.

Mental Nuts

Can you Crack 'em?

A superb collection of 100 old time catch and prize problems; famous
debaters. They have puzzled the people of all times. Pleasingly
referred to in old schoolday talks. Quaint, curious and interesting
puzzles, calculated to call forth the best mental effort. An unique
curio of intense interest. A great home entertainer. On heavy paper,
bronzed and embossed.

By mail 10 cents, stamps or silver.

A Book of Maxims

Illustrated and Alphabetical

Those terse old sayings, so pleasing to the ear, so convincing to the
mind; the flowers of thought, word pictures of speech, 1000 lines of
prose and verse. A desirable reference book.

    "Now you shall wish, but wish in vain,
      To call the fleeting words again."

To those who fear misquoting, this book will prove a valuable treasure.
Many times a well-chosen maxim conveys the trend of thought better than
otherwise a full page would do.

On heavy glazed paper, bronzed and embossed.

By mail 10 cents, stamps or silver.

Tales of Yarnville

It is to laugh. Funniest book ever happened. O. K. anywhere and

68 Subjects, each a Pearl

Entertain your friends. Don't be a wall flower. If you can't sing,
dance, or play the fiddle, learn to tell a good one.

Compact vest pocket size, round corners.

By mail 10 cents, stamps or silver.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

Page 4, "treasuse" changed to "treasure" (solid treasure to the)

Page 5, "maters" changed to "matters" (are about these matters)

Page 5, "geting" changed to "getting" (getting up inventions)

Page 11, period changed to a comma (pushed up, with a slot)

Page 15, "porus" changed to "porous" (the porous plasters)

Page 15, "shelfs" changed to "shelves" (of store shelves)

Page 18, period added to abbreviation (No. 1 they)

Page 19, "willling" changed to "willing" (and willing to persevere)

Page 20, "corrigated" changed to "corrugated" (The corrugated band)

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Learn to Invent, First Steps for Beginners Young and Old - Practical Instuction, Valuable Suggestions to Learn to Invent" ***

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