Patent Model for a Life Boat, 1873

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This model accompanied Frank J. Fackrell’s Belleville, New Jersey patent application for an “improvement in life-boats” that received patent number 151,767 on September 17, 1873. The model depicts various features described in the patent including adjustable weights hanging in an open well in the center of the boat to fine-tune the boat's center of gravity. Inlet and exhaust tubes run through the lower hull to prevent the water in the well from "impeding the motion of the boat." The 12-person passenger compartment is covered by a watertight deck, through which the passengers' upper bodies project. Around the top of each opening is a rubber safety-dress "in order to keep the water from getting into the boat around the bodies of the passengers, ajd to assist in holding the passengers in the boat.”
Storms, fires, collisions, and rocky coasts have endangered lives as long as people have worked at sea. During the 1700 and 1800s, increased trade and passenger traffic placed greater numbers of people on the water, and better communication made more people aware of the accidents that happened. These trends led to a surge in the creation and use of life-saving devices on both ship and shore. While Fackrell's proposal may be inefficient and impractical, it is an excellent example of the emerging safety consciousness of the time.
Currently on loan
Date made
patent date
Fackrell, Frank J.
Fackrell, Frank J.
associated place
United States: New Jersey, Belleville
Physical Description
wood (part material)
metal (part material)
overall: 24 in x 8 1/2 in x 6 1/4 in; 60.96 cm x 21.59 cm x 15.875 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
patent number
Patent Models
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Work and Industry: Maritime
America on the Move
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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