Thursday, February 12, 2009

D.W. & S.H. Davis

I know that I'm missing something. Hours of Googling the S.H. Davis & Co. Gill Net Float Patented Jan. 16th. 1877, has not produced the information looked for, but there were a couple of surprises and leads.

Speculating and extrapolating like crazy, the following is presented.

Could the American gill net float pictured above, be an additional proof of the pre-1930's production of American glass fishing floats?

Was the S.H. Davis float actually patented? I'm not certain that the float itself was patented, but am open to be proven wrong. Research caused me to ponder that question.

In the "Scientific American, Vol. XXXVI No.8, A Weekly Journal of Practical Information, Art, Science, Mechanics, Chemistry and Manufactures," dated, Feb. 24th. 1877, there is a listing of the patents for January 1877. In that list is Patent #186,232, for a gill net patented by D.W. & S.H. Davis.

I find it interesting to come across the initials "D.W.," associated with "S.H." The float is not marked with those first two initials, yet the patent for the date embossed onto the float, does. The patent is not for the float, but for a gill net. I could find no patent for a glass gill net float from the date embossed onto the float's glass.

Was the float copied from the Norwegian Grooved Egg, and included with the net in the original specifications for the patent application? Comparing the two floats, I cannot help but make the conclusion that the float is a copy of the Norwegian Grooved Egg Float.

The patent application to the United States Patent Office was done by Munn & Co. Munn & Co.'s Patent Offices, was an agency used to secure patents. It had the knowledge and connections to speed up the patent process, and for a fee, provided that much needed service. The U.S. Patent Office was notoriously slow to issue patents to individuals.

In the advertisements found in the Scientific American, I found the following:

"A complete copy of any patent in the annexed list, including both the specifications and drawings, will be furnished from this office for one dollar. In ordering, please state the number, and date of the patent desired, and remit to Munn & Co, 37 Park Row, New York City."

Googling like crazy, only produced the finding that the company no longer existed, and that I could not find anything more about the patent for the gill net, other than what is found in the Scientific American. Certainly wish that I could be unstuck in time, like Kurt Vonnegut's protagonist Billy, in "SLAUGHTER HOUSE FIVE," and travel back, mail a buck off' and get the specs and a copy of the original patent. Maybe someone reading this post, has a copy of the patent, and can send a photo or copy of it for this blog?

There were two other interesting facts uncovered about D.W. & S.H. They also patented a method to facilitate the shipment of frozen fish in barrels. In a letter showing Patent #165596, dated April 6, 1875, from the Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission is the following:

"Messrs. D.W. & S.H., Davis of Detroit, Mich., introduced a process by which fish are frozen in circular pans of varying sizes suited to the measurement of the barrels. After being frozen, the contents of each pan are removed entire and placed in appropriate position in the barrel, and the barrel headed and placed in cold storage."

So D.W. & S.H. were located in Detroit, Michigan. Does that indicate that the D.W. & S.H. gill net was developed to fish for freshwater fish in the Great Lakes? Just maybe, one or more of those wonderful and rare American Grooved Gillnet Floats can be located in the Detroit vicinity?

The photo showing the Davis Gill Net Float in hand was provided by Ken Busse.
The photo below Ken's photo, is a Grooved Flesland float, also shown in hand.


  1. Anonymous4:19 PM


    I have just sendt you an email and 2 jpg files with patent papework.

    This is a mystery, as we all know from research and newspaper from US and Norway the inventor of glass floats is mr. Faye from Bergen Norway who invented and did research with netted glass bottles and oval shaped glass floats in approximately year 1843 - 1845. Some people belives that glass floats was made at glassworks in Norway several years earlier from the very beginning of year 1800.

    Gill-Nets and floats on the patented paper looks like Dogneck floats or nobbed egg floats....not grooved eggs as shown above.

    And I remember paperworks from Norwegian Patent Office shows the green Norwegian grooved egg patented by the boardmember/glassworker at Flesland Glassverk mr. Oscar Arnholdt Andersen...patent on the grooved egg was from approximately year 1930-35 I don't remember the exact date and year, but I'm still looking for facts. But will not pay hard cash for paperworks at the Norwegian patent office costs $250.00USD I have to win in the lottery first ;)

    If grooved eggs was patented in year 1930- why this S.H. Davis float and pat info in the glass?? Float looks like a float produced in the period from approx 1930- ....look closely at the letters in the glass, very modern and beautiful letters in the glass + the grooved part, it's excellent and a superb glassblower job, not before year 1930!! Or what???


  2. Anonymous5:06 PM


    On the patented paperworks, sitat:
    The form of the glass float my be spherical = Round, Elliptical = Egg, conical or other conventional glass float. But we prefer the shape represented with a button or ball and neck....Grooved are not listed, so I belive they wasn't invented at that time. Nobbed egg floats, yes they are very old and could be the right answer on Gill-Nets.
    But I'm curious about the neck in the patent text, dogneck floats in year 1877 thats WoW...but who produced dogneck floats in year 1877, Denmark and Glassworks situated on the Bornholm island, I don't think so, but you never know!! Anyone from Denmark out there who knows???

  3. I have one of these Davis floats,same as shown,does anyone know the value?