Sunday, February 15, 2009

Patent No. 186,232

As is my custom every morning when I wake up, the computer is turned on, I grab a glass of orange juice to drink, then sit down to see what new has arrived on the auctions, and in my emails. It's great to have friends from different parts of the world, who's clocks are advanced in time when compared to mine, or who live on the West Coast of the U.S. There is always a good chance of finding emails sent while I was sleeping. It's all part of the wonderful excitement that is in my life because of glass floats.

This morning there was a great surprise! Pereinar123, got down and did some excellent research concerning the S.H. Davis Gill Net Floats, and found the patent application to the United States Patent Office. Not only did he find the application, but also the drawing of the gill net with attached float. Thanks to Per, all who read this blog, can now see the wonderful historical information

Thanks Per!




Specification forming part of Letters Patent No. 186,232, dated January 16, 1877; application filed December 19, 1876.

To all whom it may concern:
Be it known that we, DAVID W. DAVIS and SAMUEL H. DAVIS of DETROIT, in the county of Wayne, in the State of Michigan, have made certain Improvements in Gill-Nets for catching fish in deep water, of which the following is the specification:
The invention consists in a novel float that holds the net in an upright or perpendicular position in the water after the sinker rests upon and holds the bottom line upon the ground under the water, as will be full here-inafter described.
In the drawings, Figure 1 represents a side view of a gill-net in position in deep water, having the sinkers and floats attached, and Fig. 2 is an enlarged view of the same.
A represents the net-work of an ordinary gill-net; A', the sinker or bottom line; A", the float or upper line; B, the sinker, which is of any heavy metal, in the form of a ring. It is attached to the bottom line by strong cords; as seen at b, or by any other secure means. C is the float, made of glass, is hollow, perfectly water-tight, and made as light as is consistent with strength necessary to prevent breaking in the ordinary way of handling the net. This float, being of glass, and transparent, is not seen by the fish when submerged in water, as it assumes the same color as the surrounding water, it being light in material, has great sustaining power when submerged in water, and is a great improvement over either light wood or cork for such purpose, as either wood or cork become water-soaked when submerged to the depth of two or three hundred feet in water, and after a little while is almost as heavy as the surrounding water, and no matter how light-colored they may be when first used, they soon change to a dark color, and will consequently be seen by the fish, who will invariably avoid them or near proximity to them, while the glass float does not change its color perceptibly, or become heavier by any length of time in the water, as it is impervious thereto.
The form of the glass float may be spherical, elliptical, coniform, or other convenient form; but we prefer the shape represented, with a button or ball, c, and neck c', by which the float is securely attached to the float-line A" by cord or other suitable device passing around the neck c' of the float, and around the float-line A". The glass float C, when constructed and attached to the upper or float line A", has just floating power enough to hold the net A in a perpendicular position, while the sinkers are heavy enough to prevent the floats from raising them and the net from the bottom, where the sinkers rest; and when the net is in such position, it and the floats remain in a stationary condition, as they are so far submerged below the surface of the water that they are not affected by wind or swell upon the surface, and are not moved except when taken up to remove the fish that may be caught in the meshes of the net.
Having thus described our invention, what we claim is-
The glass floats C, in combination with a gill-net, A, arranged to operated as and for the purposes substantially as described.


Ed. E. Kane,
Henry F. Dusing.

Now we know that the original patent was for an improvement in gill-nets, specifically a novel float made of glass. The patent was for a glass float, and as stated in the patent application, that float could take a number of shapes. Per tells us that the grooved Norwegian Egg float did not occur until the 20th. Century. (See Per's comments on the previous post)

Sadly, I have to tell the reader that I do not have one of the S.H. Davis floats to look at and hold, and have never seen one, except in a photo. After making the guess that the Davis float was a copy of the Norwegian Egg, then looking, and looking again at the photos of the Davis Gill Net float, it struck me that the Davis float appeared in the photos to be rounder, and looked thicker in body than the Norwegian Egg. It's shape reminds me of a walnut. Until the day comes when I or one of the readers can actually compare them for us, that is speculation on my part.

Another guess...Is that why the float is stamped with just Samuel Davis' initials? Did he actually perfect the final float shape that the Davis' attached to their gill nets, and so, was credited with the float's invention?

When looking at the photo of the "Plumb Bob," shaped glass float, I cannot help but wonder if there were any ever produced? If so, does one or more exist?

What glass company produced their final Grooved Gill Net Float, and perhaps other experimental shapes the Davis' tried?

How soon after Jan. 16, 1877 did the D.W. & S.H. Davis Gill-Net become available, and used?

When was the S. H. Davis Grooved Gill Net Float first produced? The timing between the patent date, and the first manufacturing of round Cod Gill Net Floats in Boston, Mass. is so close. Just which one was the first American-made glass float?

The Patent No. 186,232 certainly indicates that either the Davis Gill Net Float, or experimental glass floats that they may have tried prior to that float, were the first.

Per has requested me to add the following concerning the photos for this post:
Images copyright © 2009

Kindly do not copy, use or re-distribute the photos from this post without the permission of either Per, or myself.

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